Danville Dans' Jeanie Cooke Honored By ABCA
Jeanie Cooke of the Danville Dans (Ill.) was honored with the 2024 ABCA Travel & Youth Baseball Service Awards at the 2024 ABCA Convention in Dallas. The ABCA Travel and Youth Baseball Service Awards were introduced at the 2023 ABCA Convention and honor coaches who have made or are making significant contributions to youth in their community through the sport of baseball.
Cooke, the co-owner and General Manager of the Prospect League's Danville Dans summer collegiate team in Illinois, began her work in youth baseball through the American Legion Youth Baseball League program in Danville, where she volunteered as a hitting coach for 11- and 12-year-old players. Now, Cooke integrates local youth in with her collegiate summer league team. The Dans invite all kids ages 10 and under to attend their games and then come onto the field post-game to interact with players. The team hosts several youth summer camps as well and the Dans are actively involved and support the local Challenger League, a program for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. The Dans organization has expanded to support two Junior Dans teams that feature youth players from the surrounding area.
In 1977, Jeanie Cooke's husband asked her to become the hitting coach for his 11-12 Little League team, and she jumped at the opportunity. Jeanie's passion for baseball began as a child, watching her father catch in the local Twilight League. She loved that as a coach, she could help children find that same love of America's favorite pastime.
In 1987, fellow baseball fanatic Rick Kurth asked Jeanie to help him save historic Danville Stadium. Together, they realized to bring life back into this wooden stadium, they would need to bring in a team. To keep the love of baseball growing, she made sure children were a focal point of every Dans' game. Children wearing their Little League uniforms got in free. After each game, kids (of all ages) could take to the field, run the bases, and ask players for autographs. Thirty-five years and hundreds of Sharpies later, kids still get in free, run the bases, and get autographs at… every game. Hundreds of boys and girls have completed the Dans baseball skills camps hosted by the coaching staff each summer. Believing everyone deserves the thrill of a homer, Jeanie also arranges for Danville Dans to help children with special needs compete in the AMBUCS Challenger League.
Congratulations to Jeanie Cooke and the Danville Dans.
About the Prospect League
The Prospect League is a premier Midwestern wood-bat collegiate summer baseball league with 18 teams across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. The League provides college players with a professional setting with excellent competition and high-quality facilities while delivering exciting baseball action and affordable all-ages entertainment to its communities. Known as the Central Illinois Collegiate League from 1963-2008, the Prospect League has a proud tradition as one of the original and most recognizable summer leagues. The League's rich history includes Hall of Famers and NCAA Champions, nearly 200 alumni in Major League Baseball, and more than 800 professional players. For more information visit prospectleague.com.