Baseball has been life for Jack Hollinshead since his childhood, playing in 95-degree heat every weekend of the summer with grit in his heart and a smile on his face. Growing up watching his father lead The Littlest Heroes, a local nonprofit that helps kids who are fighting childhood cancer, he knew he wanted to do something similar using his love of the sport.
“I saw firsthand the impact you can make when you’re passionate about something,” recalls Hollinshead about deciding on the mission of his own nonprofit. “Kids should be given the opportunity that I had. I was blessed to have my parents supporting me, providing the financial support to go to the trainers, private lessons, and play on elite travel teams.”
That support and opportunities provided the vision for his non-profit, My Inner Warrior Foundation, committed to providing strong baseball programming and opportunities for young athletes in the city of Cleveland — a vision that became contagious as childhood friends began joining the roster, each bringing unique skills to the organization. And all while earning their undergraduate degrees.
With its leadership made up entirely of college students, many of whom play on their respective universities’ baseball teams, the My Inner Warrior Foundation has teamwork at its core. With a strong focus on community collaboration, the foundation partners with the Cleveland Baseball Federation (CBF) to provide new equipment, travel team funding, and instructional clinics to kids in CBF programs. CBF, which assists the City of Cleveland’s Recreation Department in the administration of its entire sandlot program, manages free recreation baseball leagues for more than 2,400 boys and girls ages 4 –18 at dozens of ballparks and recreation centers across the Cleveland area.
“We have purchased about 60 brand new baseball bats and are about to give [CBF] three sets of team cleats for three of their travel teams,” Hollinshead says. “Our goal is to help as many kids as we can.”
Beyond bats, cleats, equipment bags, and empowering “extras” for players to enjoy, the My Inner Warrior Foundation has sponsored 75 – 100 kids to attend local baseball clinics. College players and friends of the Foundation volunteer their time to coach and teach structure, dedication, and what it means to be part of a team to these young players. For some, it’s having a real impact.
“We had a kid who came to our instructional camp last summer and didn’t know how to throw a baseball or swing a baseball bat, but we were able to pull him aside a lot to give him one-on-one instruction,” says Hollinshead. “Within those three days, he picked up on the fundamentals, and this summer, he made one of CBF’s travel teams.”
Not only is their pivotal work felt in Cleveland’s communities, but professional athletes are also taking notice. My Inner Warrior Foundation has partnered with Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer to host the Bauer Outage Wiffleball Camp at Baldwin Wallace Baseball Field in Berea. The free, sold-out event will welcome 100 young baseball and softball players to a full day of instruction and wiffleball with Trevor Bauer and fellow Indians teammates.
My Inner Warrior Foundation continues to host unique experiences like these, including other active events like basketball tournaments and yoga sessions, which foster healthy habits and create a positive community for Cleveland’s kids. In true team athlete form, however, Hollinshead refuses to take credit for all of My Inner Warrior Foundation’s ambitious work.
“I am so grateful to the other students who help me out with this,” he says of his fellow executive team members. “Having them help me with everything we do is what makes My Inner Warrior possible.”