Varsity Extra

Meridian baseball player’s pen paves the way for a big payday for YMCA

Rocky Mountain’s Gabriel Hughes pitches to a Post Falls batter in the state 5A baseball tournament May 17, 2018, at Borah High in Boise.
Rocky Mountain’s Gabriel Hughes pitches to a Post Falls batter in the state 5A baseball tournament May 17, 2018, at Borah High in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Gabriel Hughes got his start in athletics through youth programs with the Treasure Valley Family YMCA.

Hughes is now a senior at Renaissance High in Meridian with a 4.16 GPA and a scholarship to play baseball at Gonzaga.

Thanks to a 250-word essay, Hughes is making it possible for others to follow in his footsteps.

Hughes’ essay was recently selected as a spotlight grant winner through Gatorade’s Play it Forward program, and he chose the Caldwell YMCA as the recipient of the $10,000 gift.

“We are honored that the Caldwell YMCA was chosen as the recipient of this grant,” said David Duro, CEO of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA. “Last year, over 6,300 local youth participated in Y Sports programs. This award will help us reach our goal to provide financial assistance to anyone in need.”

Hughes is the reigning Gatorade Idaho Baseball Player of the Year after leading Rocky Mountain to a 24-5 record and a 5A state consolation title. Hughes went 7-1 on the mound with a 1.84 ERA, striking out 59 in 45 2/3 innings. He also hit .461 with four home runs and 31 RBIs.

Gatorade’s Play It Forward program works in collaboration with Gatorade Player of the Year. Each state player of the year gets to choose a local or national youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant from Gatorade.

Every state winner can then write an additional essay to compete for one of 12 Play It Forward grants of $10,000. Gatorade chooses one winner for each of the 12 sports it recognizes for player of the year.

“The connection and role that Treasure Valley Family YMCA has had in Gabe Hughes’ life truly came through in his essay,” said Forrest Johnson, Assistant Marketing Manager for Gatorade Player of the Year. “We look forward to seeing the Treasure Valley Family YMCA continue to positively impact the youth of their community.”

Hughes said he submitted the essay a few months ago and had forgotten all about it until he received the news that his essay was chosen.

“The Y in Caldwell does such an amazing job with the youth programs helping kids who might be at risk and just giving them an outlet, especially through sports, to do something else with their lives,” he said.

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