Mark Arjes of Owatonna's Youth 1st organization is entering a busy time. They will co-host a free Play Ball MN baseball and softball clinic on Saturday in Owatonna. Team award presentations crowd late summer and approximately 300 of those teams will parade around Target Field before a Twins' game.

The Saturday, June 23 clinic will be held at Manthey Park and is open to boys and girls. Kids age 6-9 are 9-10:30 am and players age 10-16 are 10:30 am-12 pm. Participants get a Play Ball Minnesota gift and a free picnic lunch. There will also be drawings for special prizes and a free photo booth. This is the eighth straight year Youth 1st has assisted with the Play Ball clinic.

On Thursday the Owatonna Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Ambassadors welcomed Youth 1st as a member of the chamber. A number of partnering businesses attended the ceremony at the Four Seasons Centre. Arjes founded Youth 1st in March of 2010 with the goal of impacting the culture around youth sports.

Arjes spoke on Thursday of seeing a shift away from the fun associated with youth sports to a more competitive, year-round approach of focusing too much on the results. Youth 1st promotes the conduct of encouraging positive actions, developing character traits and unifying community leadership.

He said Youth 1st representatives hold meetings with coaches and parents at the start of the season to present their message.

submitted photo by Youth 1st (2015)