Story by Megan Whitehead | Nov 28, 2017
Photography by Keith Borgmeyer

How this volunteer makes Jefferson City an incredible community.

I’m going to be honest with you. Until recently, I was completely ignorant about the depth of our community. Jefferson City was a wonderful place in which to grow up and go to school, but I didn’t understand what makes our city — the capital city — special. The capacity of giving here is, without question, truly remarkable. Without really thinking about it, we structure our social events, sporting events, professional lives, and more around giving back to those in need. And as we’ve shown, there is need here. Thankfully, we’re a community of philanthropic warriors, each and every one displaying a passion for what they do.

Innovation

What’s one thing Jefferson City loves as much as giving? Sports. Particularly, youth sports. We’re a community that loves to rally around our kids and teach them the importance of fundamentals. Doesn’t it seem natural to combine these two loves?

“About four years ago, my son and I started a baseball team through [Jefferson City] Parks & Rec,” says Jay Carroll. “I found out how good he really was. He eventually made it onto a competitive team. We were playing about six or seven days a week between practice and games [for both teams]. One day he told me, ‘Dad, it’s too much. I’m just not having fun.’”

That’s when Jay realized something needed to change. His son wanted to play with his friends, but Jay didn’t want his talent to go to waste. And with inflating costs and competition, it’s more difficult for all interested kids to play at the level they want. “I decided we need to do something different,” says Jay. “I’m going to make a movement in this community that it doesn’t matter what family you come from or how much money your family has or doesn’t have — I’m going to figure out a way that friends can stay and play together from tee ball all the way through high school as much as possible. I’m going to find a way to do that and scholarship kids into this organization.”

The Young Wanted, part of the local pro baseball team The Wanted (a nonprofit organization that’s part of the Frontier League), works to teach all young athletes how to play, improve, and be community leaders, all while staying with their friends. “We instill core values into these children to become better leaders in our community and help our community later on in the work force,” says Jay. “I’ve seen great things happen in this town, but I’ve also seen that it’s growing at a slower rate than a lot of towns. I think that maybe something like this would help.”

Along with teaching children the game’s fundamentals and core values, The Wanted gives back to the community through partnerships with businesses and other nonprofits. Currently, the teams work with the Special Learning Center and Special Olympics to fundraise and volunteer, and they hope to increase the number of organizations they help in the future. “Not only do we try to win championships, but we also win championships in life,” says Jay.

In The Young Wanted’s four years, they’ve grown from one team to 11 and have also added softball — they plan on adding basketball and soccer teams later.

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