Windsor Strong Tours B-Devils, Rumble Ponies

We cheer them on, praise them when they do well and sometimes curse them when they don’t. But just how do sports teams help make a community strong? Windsor Strong Academy students went right to the source to find out.

The students took behind-the-scene tours of the Binghamton Devils and Binghamton Rumble Ponies facilities and got to ask executives and athletes about their place in the community.

“Teams can be a big part of the community and provide a source of identity,” said Binghamton Devils Executive Vice President Tom Mitchell.

That’s something he saw first-hand during the Binghamton Senators’ final home game before leaving the area to make way for the Binghamton Devils, who will begin play this season.

“During the last Senators game the emotions in the building flabbergasted me,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell explained to the students ways in which the Binghamton Devils helps the community, including partnering with organizations on fundraising, sending players into schools and reaching out to corporations.

“The ways we can help the community is to run a professional organization and get involved in as many things as we can,” said Mitchell.

After the Q-&-A session the students took a tour of the Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, including a look at the video room, locker room and weight room.

Then it was off to NYSEG stadium, home of the New York Mets’ Double-A affiliate Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Students took a tour of the press box and luxury suites before meeting with a pair of Rumble Ponies players: pitcher Mickey Jannis and outfielder and Eastern League All-Star Kevin Taylor, who explained minor-league life allows players to interact more with the community than if they were in the Major Leagues.

“A lot of young people look up to us and listen to us when we talk. We’ll ask each other if we’re making a difference and we are. We’ll go into a classroom and talk about anti-bullying and kids will listen,” said Taylor.

Another example of the Rumble Ponies contribution to the community is its commitment to an annual charity. This year the team is raising money for A Room to Heal. That organization provides healing spaces in the homes of children battling serious illness. Taylor and a couple of his teammates helped design a bedroom for a 14-year-old boy fighting cancer.

“Baseball is a small part of life but it gives me a voice,” said Taylor. “Doing things off the field makes me feel more complete.”

“Sports is good for the community because of how we’ll come and watch and be there for the team. They know they’re not by themselves,” said Joseph Smith who is entering 7th grade.

“Sports brings people together, different people from different backgrounds,” said Cody Lewis who is entering 9th grade. “You don’t have to be good at it to come together and watch it.”

The students will tour Binghamton University’s athletic facilities on July 19. They will present their findings on how sports helps make a community strong at Binghamton University’s downtown Binghamton center July 27.

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