It’s been said that “a family that trains together, stays together.”
But for numerous student-athletes at Vacaville Christian High School, that adage has adopted new meaning this summer during its six-week summer program in affiliation with The Leaven.
The Leaven, a Christian non-profit that works in partnership with various community organizations to provide mentoring and tutoring to at-risk children, has held its Summer Success Program at the Alamo Gardens in Vacaville and the Groves Apartments in Fairfield with the dedicated assistance of Falcons student-athletes.
However, the connection between The Leaven and VCHS is far from new.
Dating back to the late-2000s, when the local non-profit and VCHS first teamed up, Falcons’ assistant baseball coach Danny Lindsey distinctly recalls taking part in a similar program while playing baseball at VCHS. Now, as a coach, Lindsey has seen the efforts of his Falcons family go full circle as The Leaven’s regional director for the Vacaville, Suisun and Fairfield area.
“I love what athletics does, and not just for the fact that it’s fun, but how it brings people together,” Lindsey said. “For me, having been an athlete who competed at VCS and played in college, to see the athletes care so much is amazing and it’s hard to describe. Seeing them give back to other little kids can bring tears to my eyes and it has.”
Since Lindsey took advantage of the opportunity in 2009-10, The Leaven has blossomed from one location to 16.
Beside fellow Falcon pitcher Quinlan Sweany, VCHS senior Justin Neace participated with The Leaven for the fourth time last week. Although the baseball team wasn’t the only club to take part in the heartfelt endeavor.
Along with VCHS athletes like Grace Richard, Tyler Kenyon, Adam Grabowski, Emma Alvarado and Maxie Harrington, Neace wholeheartedly enjoyed the opportunity to be a role model and tutor for disadvantage children these past few weeks.
“It’s amazing,” Neace said. “You’re like a mentor to them. If they don’t have someone there for them (at home), they have us and it’s hard to explain. A lot of them don’t have a father figure and I’ve talked to the kids and some of them have said how they haven’t been able to meet their dad. And that really hit me.”
Last week, the 6-foot-6 left-hander made fast friends with a 6-year-old from Fairfield. While the conversations were limited as Neace tossed grounders his way, the impact he made was quickly made apparent given the sense of glee that emanated from the pint-sized prospect’s face.
“The best part of it is seeing how much these kids appreciate us. These kids are known to get in trouble sometimes and when we’re there they’re well behaved … I’m grateful for the experience that VCHS has provided and we really do have more than some schools.”
The Summer Success Program is currently in it’s fifth week and will conclude next week as the school year quickly approaches. But for the young baseball coach and The Leaven employee, this collection of student-athletes are an outlier amid the individualistic world many have come to know.
“You always think of kids, especially in our generation, and how they’re into themselves and that they tend to do their thing,” Lindsey said. “But that’s not the case for these athletes. It’s great, not just to see them go and do it, but to see that they find more meaning behind it means a lot for someone like myself.”