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Bong Chay (Baseball) in Viet Nam 2010

Phil RognierPhil Rognier After 40+ years experience coaching and teaching baseball of all levels, Phil Rognier created the FirstSwing Foundation to help kids get their first swing at organized baseball. As Executive Director of FirstSwing, Phil has been involved in baseball since 1947 and has created a FUN and exciting educational curricula that teaches the fundamentals and mechanics of the game(s) as well as incorporating the essence of being a good solid productive citizen. The mission of the foundation is to teach youngsters the proper way to throw, hit, field, run, and condition, as well as the concepts of decision-making, problem-solving, responsibility/accountability, work ethic, manners (yes manners!), integrity, courage, and all the other important traits of a solid citizen and future spouse and parent! Phil played college and professional baseball, has a Masters Degree in Education and has developed educational curriculum programs for youth and professional players and has directed and consulted youth camps for the past 20 years. Phil, we are happy to report, has been one of WebBall's most enthusiastic advocates for a number of years, and FirstSwing is among those contributing to WebBall's own charity efforts. www.firstswingcamps.com (Click to close.)

The FirstSwing Foundation is a federal 501c3 and Washington state non-profit. FirstSwing promotes the notion that sport(s) is a process, not an end in itself, and teaches its importance in developing productive citizens with critical thinking skills, a strong work ethic, nutritional/conditioning knowledge, and the assets to become a loving spouse and caring parent!
FirstSwing Executive Director Phil Rognier, has just returned from a five week trip to Vietnam and Singapore. This is the second year that Coach Phil and the Foundation has spent time developing their  "Baseball Connect" program exposing and teaching the game of baseball to Vietnamese and other SE Asian youngsters. 

Training the trainers

FirstSwing provided interactive Coaching Clinics, youth camps (ages 4-18), school presentations (elementary through the university level), public demonstrations (to include the first Hanoi Baseball Film Festival), a U.S. Embassy media conference, and a number of other educational activities. Coach Phil also taught at the University of Hanoi and spoke to local gatherings explaining not just the game of baseball but its value as a viable environment for teaching many of "life's little lessons". 

This year, Coach Phil travelled to twenty elementary, junior high, secondary, and university schools in Ha Noi and Singapore.  Included were extensive teaching sessions, the first ever PONY game in Vietnam history, the creation of a University of Hanoi SIFE team, the beginning of an American Studies library at the University, and the first American-Vietnam player exchange. 

"A very receptive audience with a new passion for the game."
Four local Seattle youth (ages 10-15) traveled to Hanoi and participated as youth demonstrators, peer instructors, as well as active participants in the games.  At each school and event, the game of baseball was explained and demonstrated with students(and many adults) participating in hands-on drills and games.  Students, teachers, coaches, and parents played with enthusiasm and caught the fever!  The lack of team game/sports and reliance on vicarious sedentary activities provided a very receptive audience with a new passion for the game.

FirstSwing provided fundamental Coaching and Player handbooks (translated into Vietnamese) as well as volumes of equipment to include balls, bats, gloves, caps, uniforms, and other necessary items to perpetuate the teaching and development of the initial baseball program that began in 2009. Microsoft, Fluke (Danaher), Klouter Baseball, and a number of local Vietnamese businesses contributed generously to assist "Baseball Connect". The University of Hanoi, and the Hanoi Youth Baseball Club (Coach Tom Treutler) will continue to oversee training of coaches and players. An immediate result of the project will be a 2010 US-VN exchange with a team of youngsters from Hanoi arriving for one week in August to participate in FirstSwing camps, a tourney, and to see the Mariners and Aqua Sox play!

No longer just a "comic book sport"
Bong Chay (Baseball) is no longer just a "comic book sport" in Vietnam, but a newly welcomed healthy and outside team activity.  Despite the lack of open fields and deep financial pockets, the Great American Pastime is taking roots and the Vietnamese youth teams already are competing at the international level. Who knows, maybe a Vietnamese Ichiro will develop and end up in Seattle?  Baseball Diplomacy works in funny ways!!
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