D.C. Batter Up! seeks to promote youth baseball and softball in the District of Columbia in the belief that participation in these sports helps student athletes develop skills - such as leadership, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and commitment to excellence - that lead to exemplary achievement and a successful life.
DC Batter Up! is a District of Columbia not-for-profit corporation that awards scholarships to baseball and softball student athletes in the city and makes grants to D.C. based youth baseball and softball programs. Each Spring, DC Batter Up! selects several Koczela College Scholarship awardees from boys and girls in the District who have submitted applications. If you are a high school senior who resides in the District of Columbia, is a member of a Varsity baseball or softball team at a D.C. based high school, and requires financial aid to attend college beginning in the fall after high school graduation, you can apply for the Koczela Scholarship by completing the form found on this website.
Our organization was founded in 2008 by District of Columbia residents Henry Champ, Jack Koczela, and Jimmy Ervin. The original idea was to encourage the city to stage an annual D.C. high school citywide baseball championship in the newly built Nationals Park that would allow for the broadest possible participation from District high school teams and players. The founders approached the DC Mayor's office to support the effort. The Mayor enthusiastically approved of the idea, but suggested that the games would be better run by a private group rather than by the city. With that, The D.C. High School Baseball Classic, Inc. (DCHSBC) was born.
The initial games took place at Nationals Park on May 31, 2008 as part of a full day of youth baseball celebration organized by the DCHSBC. Four games were played, including a public school championship (semi-final 1), a private school championship (semi-final 2), the citywide championship (featuring the winners from the two semi-final games), and an All-Star game that was open to players from each varsity baseball program in the District. This model was intentionally established to allow equitable participation by as many schools and players as possible. In the first year, the All-Star and Championship games were broadcast live on Comcast Sports. Additional game day activities in the stadium included a partnership with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation under which over 200 D.C. youth were brought to the stadium to watch the games, attend a motivational clinic, and receive a free lunch in the ballpark. A fan zone in the centerfield plaza featured games and activities supported by sponsors such as Modell’s Sporting Goods, The Washington Post, The U.S. Army, and Congressional Bank (the title sponsor for the games for the first three years).
Having successfully initiated the baseball event, the DCHSBC turned its attention, in 2009, to ensuring equitable treatment for softball. It organized citywide high school softball championship and All-Star games operating under the same format as their baseball counterparts. The annual baseball and softball championship and All-Star games became what they are today: a much anticipated fixture on the local high school sports scene. In addition to its role in organizing and sustaining the high school baseball and softball events, the DCHSBC also provided financial assistance to local youth baseball and softball programs with the goal of fostering these sports in the city’s underserved Wards.
In 2012, the city created the D.C. State Athletic Association (DCSAA), which was modeled in part on the D.C. High School Baseball Classic format. For several years thereafter, the DCHSBC and the DCSAA operated the baseball and softball championships and All-Star games under a private-public partnership. Eventually, the DCSAA assumed full responsibility for the operation of these events, thus allowing our organization to fulfill its mission in other ways. After careful consideration of how best to serve the community in the years to come, the DCHSBC decided that it would continue to offer assistance to local baseball and softball programs, but also shift its attention to another need facing youth athletes in the District – funding the transition to higher education. In 2015, our organization established an annual scholarship program to recognize exceptional high school senior student athletes continuing on to college. That same year, we began operating under the name DC Batter Up! to reflect our new role in community affairs, with its focus on funding the scholarship program and renewing our function of making grants to youth baseball and softball programs in the city. In 2019, DC Batter Up! formally named its scholarship program after longtime community activist and DCHSBC co-founder Jack Koczela.
Over the years, the DCHSBC, now operating as DC Batter Up!, has raised and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of youth baseball and softball in the District of Columbia.
Henry Champ (1937-2012)
Henry was CBC Newsworld’s lead correspondent in Washington DC and served as Chancellor of Brandon University in Canada. Henry spent three years as a minor league association player and remained active in senior baseball throughout his adult life hitting .312 in the Ponce de Leon League.
Jack is an entrepreneur and real estate acquisition executive. Jack is a lifelong D.C. resident. Of Jack’s many defining traits, tireless community advocate and diehard baseball fan rise to the top. He has served as chairman of a local non-profit school management company, and has been an active leader in several school and recreation related efforts.
Jimmy is founder and President of Velocity Communications, a DC based event marketing and production agency. He is active on multiple community boards supporting city programs and development.
Partner, O'Donoghue & O'Donoghue LLP
Adjunct Professor & Senior Fellow, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business
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