Blake Urquhart is giving back through the game that's given him so much. An assistant baseball coach at Canisius College, Urquhart is starting a foundation so kids around the city of Buffalo can experience the sport the same way he has.
What You Need To Know
- Urquhart created the First Run Foundation
- The goal is to help underprivileged kids enjoy a game that can be expensive
- He hopes to hold the foundation's first camp in August
The back of Urquhart's car, which he calls "the headquarters" of the foundation, leaves little doubt.
"We've got about six or seven helmets in here thus far. We've got a couple sets of catchers gear," he says, digging through piles of equipment.
This guy lives and breathes baseball.
"I've been in the game of baseball since I was, whew, probably that tall," he says while holding his arm out just below his waist.
His path around the bases has taken him across the country before bringing him to Canisius College four years ago as an assistant coach.
"Come to realize, this is the place I was always supposed to be," he admits.
Even at the NCAA Division I level, being a baseball coach isn't necessarily a lucrative vocation. So to help make ends meet while following his dreams, Urquhart has been a substitute teacher at the Stanley G. Falk School in Kenmore.
"Every single day I was able to be in a different classroom and build connections with these kids and be a positive role model for these kids," he says.
And in those kids, he's seen some of himself, recalling tough financial times for his family when he was younger.
"Growing up, life wasn't always easy and it is [not] for a lot of people," he says. "It's never an excuse, but for me baseball always provided an outlet."
And that's something he wants to provide the next generation. It's the idea behind the First Run Foundation, a not-for-profit he recently started to help kids get in the game, even if their families can't always afford it.
"A lot of these kids are not being afforded the same opportunity and privilege a lot of the kids I've worked with over the years and that's not right," he says.
The foundation is looking for donations of new or used equipment, money or time and talent. Urquhart is hoping to hold a free baseball camp for a small group of kids from the Stanley G. Falk School in August, then expand if he can.
"I try to be the coach and teacher and the person that I needed when I was growing up," he says. "That's my true, true calling. I just want to do that."
Others who want to help or join the team can learn more on the foundation's website.
"We're trying to make a difference in this local community through the power of sport to use this as a platform to learn about life and continue to grow," he says.
Score it an inside-the-park homerun.