Team Prime Time Nonprofit
To Hold Charity Casino Classic
“There are over two million kids with special needs across the county who still don’t have a chance to play high school sports,” is the message from Team Prime Time Sports.
Residents can help by attending the first Prime Time Charity Casino Classic on Wednesday, January 23, from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica, sponsored by Social Bluebook and Brothers Heineman.
The event will feature a celebrity poker tournament and casino night fundraiser. The silent auction offers an on-field batting practice with the Milwaukee Brewers, and tickets to a game in Ryan Braun’s family/friends’ section, plus a personalized signed bat. (Ryan Braun was the National League home run leader (2012) and National League rookie of the year (2007).
The auction also includes batting practice with the Seattle Mariners, four tickets to the game and a personalized signed bat. Or just come out and meet Braun, Lucas Ciolito, a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox who graduated from Harvard-Westlake 2012 and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake 2014).
This Pacific Palisades-led event is being organized by Wade Clement, 25, who played PPBA baseball and AYSO and club soccer, and competed in gymnastics. After high school at Harvard-Westlake, he attended Duke, where he played soccer.
After graduating, he joined Team Prime Time, a nonprofit founded in 2012 by Santa Monica resident Peter Straus. The organization pairs a student with disabilities with a student mentor.
“Playing sports has always been the most important part of my life,” said Clement, who is the program manager for the high school league, which matches students (coaches) with special-needs students (athletes). Many of the peer coaches come from the varsity teams at their respective schools.
At a chance meeting at Gold’s Gym, Clement explained his job to Steve Heineman, a Palisadian and retired Santa Monica police officer.
“I saw this as a way of giving back to kids who didn’t have access to sports,” said Heineman, who has served as a youth baseball coach and worked for the Police Athletic League for 14 years. “Sports was one of the greatest things in my life.”
He admitted that he hadn’t been one of the greatest students in school, but like so many young people, sports gave him a grounding, an identity.
Clement invited Heineman to come to Dorsey High School to see how the program worked.
“When I saw it in action, the interaction between mentor and mentee, I knew I wanted to be involved,” said Heineman, who has now joined the Team Prime Time board.
Clement said that the relationship between the coach and mentor go beyond the field, that often those who have special needs are ignored in mainstream schools. But a mentor, who is often a high school star, changes that just by saying “hi” to the kid in the hall or including his/her “player” at lunch.
Heineman’s sons, Scott and Tyler, who played baseball at Oregon State and UCLA, respectively, and now play in the minor leagues, aiming for the majors, recently got involved with Team Prime Time.
It started with “Any gear laying around the house disappeared,” Tyler said, and Scott noticed that his Oregon game-day glove all of a sudden appeared on Twitter with another athlete.
Scott laughs as his dad explains, “But it was unclaimed, it was just lying around the house.”
Both Heineman siblings wanted to help support Prime Time, but as Tyler, a catcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization explains, “Playing in the minor leagues, you don’t make a lot of money.”
As a hobby, Tyler took up magic in 2015. When he’s in town, he performs for the Prime Time kids and will do so at the upcoming fundraising event.
Tyler has founded Deluxe Trading Cards, which features decks signed by professional baseball players, and donates 100 percent of the proceeds to Team Prime Time.
There will be a deck at the silent auction, signed by Mike Trout—as well as decks signed by other players (Visit: deluxeplayingcards.com and follow Tyler on twitter @theineman13).
“I want my involvement to grow,” said Scott, an outfielder in the Texas Rangers organization, who was named the Rangers’ 2018 Minor League Prospect of the Year by MLB Pipeline. “My goal is to have a career in the Big Leagues and be an ambassador for Prime Time.” (Follow Scott on twitter @ScottHeineman)
There are still sponsorship levels available for the event, starting at $1,000 for an RBI Sponsor. Poker participation is $250 and a general casino ticket and the opportunity to bid on silent auction items is $100.
With the money raised, “We will use it to expand the program by adding games and seasons for the schools currently involved,” Clement said. “We also hope to establish new leagues, targeting Inglewood and the South Bay.”
For more information about the event, visit: teamprimetime.networkforgood.com/events/9964-brothers-heineman-and-social-bluebook-present-prime-time-charity-casino-classic or email Clement at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More About the Team Prime Time:
The Team Prime Time program started in 2012 with just two high schools: Venice and University. Seven years later, 29 schools in the Los Angeles area have instituted the successful model, along with two schools in Oakland and two in Honolulu.
At each school up to 32 students can participate. The start-up cost is about $7,500 to cover uniforms, equipment, transportation and the salary of the [school’s] head coach. After the first season it’s $5,000 per school and the cost is about $150 to $250 per student.
Students who serve as coaches are 58 percent more likely to graduate high school on time than peers who don’t participate. These same students are 37 percent more likely to graduate high school than students District-wide.
One hundred percent of the special needs athletes who participate in Prime Time Games have either graduated or completed high school.
Of the 85 percent of “coaches” who graduated high school on time, they are either enrolled in college, a trade school or are in the military. About 89 percent of the special-needs athletes who have participated in Prime Time Games are attending college or working.
Clement was asked why he thinks the student coaches fare better than most of their peers. “Students find purpose in school,” he said.
High schools served by Team Prime Time are Canoga Park, Chatsworth Charter, Cedarland Academy, Crenshaw, Culver City, Dorsey, Fairfax, Hamilton, Los Angeles High, Panorama, Reseda, San Fernando, Sun Valley, Sylmar Charter, Taft, University and Venice.
Middle and elementary school students participating include Daniel Webster, Emerson, Hillview, Joe Walker, Lassalette, Mesa Robles, Newton, Palms, Sparks, Valinda School and Warren Lane Elementary.