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Old 04-05-2008, 06:47 AM   #1
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Default Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

Hometown Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes
Saturday, April 05, 2008
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Terrelle Pryor was not the first high school athlete who Charlie Batch mentored and helped through a national recruiting process that eventually saw the two-sport star from Jeannette High School sign with Ohio State. He was merely the one with the highest profile.

Batch, a backup quarterback for the Steelers, has been doing that for several years with other high school athletes from Western Pennsylvania, some from sports other than football, such as Pitt basketball player DeJuan Blair. Another is Schenley basketball standout Deandre Kane.

Through his foundation and summer basketball league in his hometown of Homestead, Batch has befriended several of the top athletes in the area and served as an adviser and sounding board during their recruiting process. He just happened to receive a lot of attention for helping Pryor, maybe the most heavily recruited high school quarterback in the country.

"With Terrelle, it just magnified everything," Batch said.

Batch, though, wants to be able to assist more high school athletes who might need help handling the letters and phone calls from college coaches and making recruiting trips to some of the top programs in the country. And he wants them to know they can do that, merely by contacting him through the Web site for his Best of the Batch Foundation -- batchfoundation.org.

And here's the best part: He is doing it for free, just as he always has with young athletes from his summer league or through the mentor program of his foundation, which is designed to teach life skills to disadvantaged youths in Western Pennsylvania.

"Being one of them years ago, when I had to go through it, there were a lot of things I didn't know as far as the whole process," Batch said. "Now that I've been there and done that and had the opportunity to share my insight, I'm more than happy to do that."

Batch has received the support of Steelers president Art Rooney II for his venture, which will not begin until the Steelers season is over. He said he will not limit his role to just football and basketball players, though he admits those are the sports "I'm very familiar with. I don't have much experience with the other sports." But he also cautioned he is not running a headhunter service for high school athletes who are seeking scholarships.

His role will be to help those who receive scholarship offers from big-time college programs and who want to seek the counsel, experience and perspective of a person who played at Steel Valley High School, was recruited to Eastern Michigan and was a second-round draft choice of the Detroit Lions in 1998.

And, because of time limitations, Batch figures he might be able to help only six to eight athletes a year, depending on when the Steelers season ends.

"I reached out to him because he has been through the show," said Blair, Pitt's standout freshman center who played at Schenley and met Batch playing in his summer league. "He didn't come from my neighborhood, but he grew up the way I grew up, his family didn't have a lot. Being from the Hill [District], not having money and not having things, he gave me friendship. It's great to be a friend of a pro player."

Batch did not have to mentor Blair like he did Pryor, mainly because Blair decided early he was going to attend Pitt. With Pryor, Batch made a recruiting trip with him to Michigan to meet with new coach Rich Rodriguez -- it was after the Steelers season ended -- and was handling all the phone calls and requests from media outlets around the country. The requests only escalated after Pryor canceled a Feb. 6 news conference at his high school on the morning he was to announce his college selection.

He eventually chose Ohio State over Michigan on March 19.

"It was so much easier with him," Pryor said the other day. "I'm sure I could have gone through it without him, but he took the load off your shoulders. We'd all be sitting there on a conference call and he'd ask the questions. That's why we did that."

In the end, the process convinced Batch he would like to be able to help more young athletes who might have to go through a similar ordeal.

"With Terrelle, it brought more things to light," Batch said. "There are a lot of things they didn't know, the family didn't know, and there are a lot of things you learn along the way. When I came in, I try to bring some type of normalcy to everything -- being able to ask right questions and focus on things they might not necessarily focus on.

"The media exposure wasn't as much as when I was going through it. Now, everyone is calling. It's amazing how fast the phone number spreads around. That part got a bit overwhelming for him. He didn't want to take those calls and didn't want to tell those people no or say something that might come off the way he didn't want it to come off. That was passed on to me. I said, 'You tell them call me.' "

Batch, though, is clear about one thing: He did not tell Pryor, nor does he tell any of his athletes, which school to choose.

"At the end of the day, I want to lay everything out on the table and, at the end of the day, weigh the pros and cons of each school and make sure they understand the decision is for themselves," Batch said. "The decision they make is for the next four or five years of their life."

But, as Blair discovered during his first year at Pitt, that wasn't the end of the relationship.

"I look up to him," said the Big East Conference rookie of the year. "Every chance I get I call him. When I was at the Big East [tournament], I'd call him. He'd be at the home games. It was outstanding to see him come to games to see me. Hopefully, I can grow up to be like him."

Batch's work with kids, and the impact he has on their lives, has not escaped the attention of District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., who has three sons who play in Batch's summer league, which is for boys and girls, ages 7 to 18.

"I can't think of when it was, but we had a problem in a couple schools and we thought, who would be the best person to deliver a message to the kids at school, and the overwhelming consensus was Charlie," Zappala said. "He's a very effective advocate. A lot of guys in professional sports, they're not very accessible. In the summer program he runs, there are kids who won't make it to Pryor status. But they have a chance to talk to someone special."

And enlist his guidance.
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

Great read. Nice to see a pro athlete, one that is definately one of us (localy), give back to the area and help out with what these young athletes are going through. The best part is that it is all free. Totally genuine. Whats interesting will be to see how much this service will expand once C/B retires from football. Would like to see some of these guys give back and duplicate what has been done for them if they make it to the pro level. Keep doing what you do Charlie Batch. You will prosper from this in the future.
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Old 04-05-2008, 10:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

Charlie's a good man. I'm proud he's a Steeler.
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

Jeanette??? wtf, they are like 2-3 time reigning state champions. Terrelle Pryor anyone.
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Old 04-05-2008, 06:35 PM   #5
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Default Re: Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

Charlie Batch is a class act-I wish there were more pro athletes like him. A good read, & nice to hear instead of the usual antics going around the NFL & pro sports in general.
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

Charlie Batch-A Fine example of a True Pittsburgh Steeler.

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Old 04-05-2008, 10:56 PM   #7
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Default Re: Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

I loved him in Detroit, love him more now. I wonder if he would mentor a few Caol Region kids!
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Old 04-06-2008, 06:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Charlie Batch volunteering to mentor local athletes

Charlie devotes alot of his time to different things he's a good man.
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