The Detroit Public School League opened its 2011 baseball season Tuesday, but Renaissance High basked in the thrill of victory even before its team took the field.
At a jam-packed assembly in the school’s gymnasium, the Phoenix players learned to their joyous surprise that Renaissance High has been chosen as the recipient of Comerica Bank’s $10,000 Grand Slam Grant.
From more than 70 metropolitan Detroit high schools that applied, Renaissance High’s proposal was selected the winner by a team of judges that included representatives from Comerica Bank and guest judge Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge.
“Narrowing down the field of applicants was a very difficult decision, given the need that extends throughout our community,” said Thomas Ogden, president of Comerica Bank-Michigan. “Though all the schools were deserving, we ultimately felt Renaissance demonstrates the strongest investment in Detroit youth and the future of baseball.”
Leon McKissic, Renaissance High’s head baseball coach and athletic coordinator, said the grant will be used to purchase needed equipment and to establish a mentoring program that will include youth baseball clinics.
Renaissance will formally receive the grant during an on-field presentation Saturday April 9 when the Detroit Tigers play the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. In addition, more than 100 Renaissance High students and staff will be in attendance at the game and Principal Gail Russell-Jones will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“This grant is going to give our team an opportunity to have some equipment it ordinarily wouldn’t have, but more importantly, it’s going to allow us to reach out to the community,’’ Russell-Jones said. “Comerica Bank and the Tigers are two of the businesses in the city of Detroit that are giving back to the community, and I’m very grateful.
“It’s quite an honor that we were chosen, but it’s indicative of the outstanding coaching staff we have, and particularly our head baseball coach and athletic coordinator Leon McKissic who actually wrote the proposal.”
“We’re fortunate that they picked us,’’ McKissic said. “For Comerica Bank and the Tigers to step up and help out like that, it’s unbelievable and definitely appreciated.”
“This is huge because we really need new equipment,’’ said Renaissance senior outfielder Clarence Stone. “The Tigers are my favorite team and I support them no matter what. I’m really happy that Comerica and my team did this for us.”
The grant announcement ceremony was hosted by Ryan Field from Fox Sports Detroit, while Detroit Tigers’ mascot PAWS was on hand to pose for pictures and lead the exuberant student body in the Wave. The students really got excited during a raffle conducted by Ogden and the Tigers’ DTE Energy squad. Several lucky members of the audience won gift bags that contained Tigers tickets among other goodies.