Gear Up To Level Up helps area youth “play ball”

by Benita Fuzzell

]Gear Up To Level Up, a program established by Lynn Busby, was created to provide baseball and softball equipment to those in need, to help level the playing field.

An avid baseball enthusiast, Busby worked within the baseball industry before returning to his home county to accept the position of Director of the Housing Authority of Hickman. He grew up in Fulton, attended Fulton City Schools and Murray State University. He has appreciated and enjoyed baseball in all aspects, from playing to coaching to managing.

He soon realized there are children and youth within the local communities who might not be able to participate in the sport for a variety of reasons. His vision, however, was to make sure one of those reasons would never be because purchasing uniforms or equipment put a financial burden on families.

Busby, for the past five years, set out to collect and purchase boys’ and girls’ T-ball, baseball and softball shirts, belts, socks, pants, helmets, cleats, gloves, masks, equipment bags, balls, bats and other essentials, in sizes to fit the very young all the way through high school students.

Each year, in March, he sets up shop at the Housing Authority of Hickman’s Community Outreach Center, at 1703 S. 7th St. in Hickman, and displays his collection, in a manner which could rival the most popular sporting goods stores.

Arranged carefully in sizes, laundered, cleaned, polished and repaired, if necessary, 90% of the items displayed have been purchased by Busby, as he has scanned yard sales, estate sales and clearance racks. The other 10% of the hundreds of items collected have been donated by individuals, or from facilities such as River Town Mission in Hickman, The Bridge in Union City, or Greater Vision of Troy, Tenn.

Some of the items are actually “trade-ins”, as families and youth bring in items outgrown or no longer needed, to replace their selections for the current baseball or softball season.

The best part? Every item in the make-shift store, is free.

Most often, the Gear Up 2 Level Up shop is open for browsing from 3:30 or 4 p.m. to 6-6:30 p.m. on week days and extended hours on Saturdays.

The items are available to Twin Cities Youth League, Hickman Youth League and Wingo Summer Youth League, Obion County Youth Baseball League and Union City League t-ball, softball and baseball participants, so far, Busby said.

Busby will accept clean items in good condition, and will welcome volunteers to help with set up and other tasks.

His goal is to see this program grow and expand into much more than just the provision of equipment.

“I would like to see this area host a Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run event, and soon. I have plans to apply for a Major League Baseball Youth Development grant for the Hickman Youth League program, and possibly others. The grant provides for equipment as well as other needs,” Busby said.

For more information, contact Busby through his facebook page or Housing Authority of Hickman.