It’s the final game of the season for the baseball teams of P.A.C.E. Omaha, which stands for Police Activities for Community Engagement.
“These kids come up to practice, they come up to games, and committed to the program all summer, so we just want to celebrate that for them and their families,” said Rich Gonzalez, Executive Director of P.A.C.E., and retired Captain with the Omaha Police Department.
“Throughout the season, the relationships that they build with the police officers is what we want because these are the police officers that they’re going to see in their neighborhoods,” said Gonzalez.
Now in its 3rd year, the P.A.C.E. program has grown to 20 baseball teams with over 300 kids.
The equipment, uniforms, field, and food are all provided free of charge with volunteers from OPD, Sarpy County Sheriff, and more.
“I keep coming back because it just gives me a full, warm heart to be a part of these kids lives and to coach them everyday and we’re learning about discipline and teamwork,” said Virginia Mustangs coach and Sgt. Dannette Culler.
Mayor Stothert was even on hand to pass out a hearty meal for the players.
“These kids see that we’re there for them, that the community’s there for them,” said Gonzalez.
Kids who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance, have spent this year learning to be a part of a team.
“I’ve been playing for three years now. I get to meet new people and I get to play a lot with everybody,” said 1st Baseman Julian Guerrero, 13, affectionately known as J.J.
And have learned plenty of life lessons as well.
“He’s not like he used to, he’s more respectful ‘cuz he knows that if you don’t respect you’re not going to get nowhere,” said Vicente Guerrero, J.J.’s dad.
“You just see their team come together as a family. You see their, the players become positive about being around the coaches, about being around the kids.”
The final game was won by the P.A.C.E. Jaguars of North Omaha, 8-4. The end of year celebration for P.A.C.E.’s soccer teams will be next Saturday on August 6th.