Coach Talk: South baseball player goes above and beyond
Jon Cohn, Glenview resident
12:30 pm CDT May 7, 2019
It all started with a family meeting.
Not all such meetings go well. When close family members sit down to “discuss topics” — especially when it is mom, dad and teenager — rarely do things go smooth. In fact, sometimes quite the opposite.
Fortunately for the Glenview-based Malis family, thus was not the case. In fact, their little meeting held last year could be labeled nothing less than a smashing success.
Zac, a junior at Glenbrook South and starting second baseman this spring for the Titan baseball squad, sat down with mom Michelle and dad Bryan and talked about what they could do for some kind of community service project; something worthwhile they could get involved in.
Zac, through his love of baseball — he has played since age 5 in Glenview Youth Baseball, Glenview Patriots travel, The Blaze elite team and currently with the Wheeling-based Athletic Barn travel team — came up with the idea of donating to an underprivileged area that might be in need of some quality baseball equipment.
“I thought I have always had great facilities and great equipment growing up here in Glenview, so wouldn’t it be cool to do something to help those kids that also love baseball but maybe are in an area that can’t afford quality baseball equipment?” he said.
The idea had immediate support from both mom and dad.
Next came the research stage.
He searched the internet for different ideas and different programs that he could help and found one in Chicago called Lost Boyz, a baseball organization located on Chicago’s South Side. The organization runs baseball teams and clinics with the mission to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.
“Perfect,” Zac thought, “exactly what we were looking for.”
Now came the hard part.
Forming an official charitable organization and getting recognized as a non-profit 501c3 can be a painfully tedious process, but here’s where a little family support comes in.
“Thankfully my mom is a lawyer and she helped me through that process,” Zac said.
Next came the name; they choose turn2baseball.
It was perfect.
It has the double meaning of turning to baseball to stay off the streets and helping develop life skills and also with Malis being a middle infielder, turning the double play is often referred to as turning two.
Next up was the actual project.
“We decided to do an equipment drive,” Zac said. “Asking people for any kinds of baseball equipment or related donations and then we would deliver it to the organization.”
With great help from Glenview Youth Baseball and also the high school led by sophomore coach Terry Harris, word got out about the drive and the need for baseball equipment.
All of a sudden the Malis family garage became a holding area. In came baseballs, bats, baseball pants, catcher equipment, cleats, mitts and more.
“We estimated about $3,000 worth of equipment was collected,” he said. “The best part, though, was delivering it. We went down to the organization and they were doing a clinic for the kids. Then they brought out some of the equipment we donated and we were able to see the looks on the faces of the kids and how excited they were.
“It really made you appreciate what we have here in Glenview.”
Titan baseball will certainly come up with some big victories this season. But clearly on the backs of the Malis family, they got one of their biggest “wins” before the season even started.
If you want to check out the project, go to turn2baseball.xyz.
Cohn has been a coach, physical education teacher, sports announcer and athletic supervisor in the community for over 35 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.