Getting everyone in the game
St. Louis Youth and Sports Outreach provides equipment for children whose families have a hard time affording the costs associated with playing sports.
By Charlotte Beard
It’s not uncommon for most grade school and high school children to be involved in some form of extracurricular activity outside the classroom. Sports is a major area of involvement for youth. However, many parents cannot afford the various costs of their child being involved in sports.
St. Louis Youth and Sports Outreach (STL YSO) has been meeting that need since its founding by Billy Mayhall and Neil Thomas in 2015. Mayhall had a child on the team he was coaching that could not afford what was needed to play. Due to Mayhall’s provision of some extra equipment he possessed, the child was able to participate. This occurrence gave him the idea to get with a group of his friends to help a few more children.
“One thing led to another,” Mayhall stated. “We were completely bombarded with stuff. It started in my garage then I had to go buy a trailer. Then the trailer was overflowing, and we reached out. The church was gracious enough [to let us be here]. We have three rooms here.”
STL YSO is located at the rear entrance of New Horizons Presbyterian Church on 9424 Everman Avenue in Overland. The nonprofit’s hours of operation are Sundays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Wednesdays 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Mayhall shared the driving force behind him running the nonprofit.
“I believe in sports. They not only physically make a kid stronger – mentally [it makes them stronger], it builds character, it shows kids ‘hey look if you’re going to be working with a team…you have to work together as a team.’ I want them off the video games and I want them outside playing.”
Mayhall stresses that no child should be unable to play sports.
“If money is an issue and you don’t have [the funds] just let us know. That’s why we have our fundraisers. We do ask if you can, bring [items] to trade in; we do want to replenish what we [give away]. We have a company that re-laces [baseball] gloves for us but sometimes they’re just beyond saving.”
STL YSO, which operates with seven board members and various volunteers, is funded by two fundraisers a year. Their Rock n Roll Bingo will take place July 28 at ABC Ball Park in the gymnasium located at 10050 Livingston Ave in St. Ann . The event allows 10 people to a team. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the event will start at 7 p.m. Every Sunday the outreach gives away something that has been donated to them by Metro Pawn.
“We are here,” stated Mayhall, “because of Metro Pawn located on St. Charles Rock Road. They make our fundraisers ‘ginormous.’ We never have to ask…they call us…they donated the Harley Davidson. They donate stuff because they believe in us. They are great people. Without Metro Pawn this [outreach] probably wouldn’t be here.”
The other fundraiser for STL YSO takes place in December. The outreach hosts an annual pool tournament at Just Bill’s Place at 2543 Woodson Road in St. Louis; specific date to be announced.
Mayhall shared that the two events support them well for a year. The church provides them free rent for the three rooms of space they use to display sports equipment, as well as free usage of the church’s utilities. The money raised by STL YSO totally supports youth in the community.
John Shelton, who has been volunteering with the outreach for approximately a year, shares a belief in what is being accomplished.
“[Billy] said it a million times, we’re not here to build a large bank account we’re here to take care of kids. You can do that in a couple fundraisers a year, not constantly asking people for things, and be willing to give back.”
Another volunteer, Sherry Barks, shared, “I just started recently; I’ve known Billy through a mutual friend. I’ve come to [STL YSO] functions…if he needs something I’m here and vice versa.”
STL YSO offers support to the community in various ways besides sports equipment to youth. Annually they host a toy and diaper drive. Mayhall states that they work with various people in the community to drive their efforts, including Korey Johnson of the Korey Johnson Foundation.
“We get the toys out to Shriner’s Hospital, St. Louis Crisis Nursery and various organizations,” he said.
In February the organization hosted a five-hour free haircut event for 37 youth provided by The Blue House Barbershop. Additionally, STL YSO gives two college scholarships each year. Recipients include one graduate from Ritenour Senior High School and Eatonville Senior High School. Each one gets a $2,000 scholarship. The scholarship is named after Officer Blake Snyder who died while in the line of duty in 2016. Those who are interested in more information can contact either of the schools who will direct them to the school’s counselor. The number for Ritenour is 314-493-6105 and Pattonville can be reached at 314-213-8051.
“We serve everywhere,” stated Mayhall. “We have people coming from Fenton, Pacific, St. Peters, St. Charles. I work with the St. Louis Crisis Nursery a lot and what people don’t realize is that the largest homeless rate is in Wentzville. [We also work with] H.E.R.O.E.S. Care. I donated [approximately] 50 helmets… [many things] to them. [One of their representatives] said to me ‘we’ll try to keep it where we stay on the Illinois side; we don’t come over here too much to keep from stepping on your toes.’ This is about helping children, this isn’t about an ego. If you help a child next door to me I’m grateful for it. There is no ego involved here. It is all about the kids. [H.E.R.O.E.S. Care] is a great group of guys.”
STL YSO provides equipment for all sports except football and hockey due to certification and compliance requirements (comparable to a child’s car seat). For more information visit: www.stlyso.org. STL YSO Facebook Page
CUTLINE: Photos by Charlotte Beard Billy Mayhall (left) stands with his son Austin at STL YSO in New Horizons Presbyterian Church.