League 42, a youth baseball league founded in 2013, is taking on a new challenge — after-school tutoring led by a former NFL player.
Stevan Clark, a former National Football League player, will serve as the director of the league’s new Leslie Rudd Learning Center. He has 30-plus years of experience in education, including directing the Wichita school district’s North Learning Center for 10 years before retiring recently.
The center will provide tutoring for children ages 5-14 involved in League 42. Elementary school students will have access to reading tutoring and middle school students will be tutored in math.
“We think it’s important to put our two cents into helping kids learn to read and better their math skills, and that’s what we’re going to do in our center,” said Bob Lutz, executive director of League 42.
“The education part is just as important, it’s more important, than what goes on on the field or the court or anything like that,” Clark said.
The center will be housed in a 10,500-square-foot building on 1212 E 17th Street that’s still under construction. The building will also hold a community center and an indoor baseball training area.
The plan is to start small.
“We think it’s a good path to start modestly and gain momentum and try to reach as many kids as we can through that process,” Lutz said.
Clark said that while baseball is important, students need to be well-rounded.
“We got a tons of kids that are always interested in playing ball, whether it’s baseball, football, basketball whatever, and a lot of times they forget the other part of it,” Clark said. “Everybody wants to be a pro, or they want to be a college athlete ... well, you could be the most talented running back or the most talented baseball player in your hometown, but if you don’t have the credentials in the classroom, they won’t look at you.
“Getting that across to today’s youth is harder than it’s ever been.”
Clark, who played at Kansas State University before moving on to the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers, started a teaching career in Manhattan after a knee injury prompted his retirement from the NFL in 1984.
.Before the center opens in January, Clark has a plan.
“What I plan on doing is finding out what’s going on in the classrooms, what programs are being used, and then evaluating students individually and figuring out where their weaknesses are and how we can help them,” Clark said.
“We’ve got to find out how this is going to work, because it’s something that hasn’t been done before.”
Lutz said Clark is the perfect fit for the role.
“He’s been in education for a long time, he’s also a former athlete ... so he relates to our kids on many different levels and we believe he’s the perfect fit to run this program,” Lutz said.