Mentoring Viable Prospects (MVP) is a treasure trove of Black baseball talent in America. Few college recruiters are aware of MVP. Steve Kletke, Canadian by birth and assistant baseball coach at Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa is one of them. He knows the value of Black college baseball players to a college program.
In July, Kletke traveled from Iowa to Decatur, Georgia to scout Black high school prospects competing in the Mentoring Viable Prospects (MVP) program, a three day baseball showcase organized 15 years ago by a group of Atlanta area coaches who played Black College baseball. The MVP is designed to give Black high schoolers exposure to college recruiters and professional scouts.
After a stalwart career in the junior college ranks, Kletke was recruited to play baseball under the tutelage of James Cooper at Grambling State University, an athletic leader among Historical Black College and Universities (HBCU’s). While at Grambling, Kletke led the SWAC in home runs on the way to a conference championship and a berth in the NCAA D1 regionals.
Additionally, he learned the value of an HBCU education. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a masters in sports administration from Grambling State.
After assessing the talent during the 2017 MVP Tournament, Kletke sauntered into the press box at Georgia State University Baseball Field, where the showcase has been held for the last 15 years, with a smile on his face.
“Well, did you have a successful week,” Greg Goodwin, CEO of MVP asked Kletke?
“Yes,” he said enthusiastically nodding his head.
Then Goodwin asked the question that he most wanted to have answered.
“Did you sign any kids this weekend?”
“I made three offers,” Kletke said.
“Three offers,” Goodwin said smiling, then added, “This is why we do this, to give these kids an opportunity to see college recruiters.
Goodwin was beaming. So was Kletke. He promised to return for the MVP 2018 tournament to entice some of the most talented Black high school players in the country to cast their lot in rural Iowa. One of the nation’s top D1 junior college baseball programs.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changers Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at email@example.com