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socioeconomics and youth sports

the breakdown: podcast

how do towns provide an equitable sports experiences to players from different socioeconomic backgrounds?


Bob mckee, jon solomon and steve trifone spoke with tara lynch about private and public sports in cheshire and meriden, connecticut. 

Featured voices:

Record Journal.png

bob mckee

maloney high school

athletic director

photo courtesy record journal


jon solomon

aspen institute and project play contributor

photo courtesy twitter

Cheshire Public Schools.jpg

steve trifone

cheshire high school

athletic director

photo courtesy cheshire public schools

interview with ricky marrero

part 2.

map featuring cheshire and

meriden connecticut.

Youth sports are becoming more competitive and expensive, and some athletes are left behind. More children are participating in both private and public sports, leading to specialization at an early age. Many families are hoping their child has what it takes to get a college scholarship and in turn, the family pays thousands of dollars for travel teams, extra training and school sports.

States like Connecticut have a huge divide in access to youth sports because of the income gap. In affluent towns like Cheshire, the median household income is more than $107,000 and students have greater access to elite sports. Just over the town line, in Meriden, Conn., the median household income is about $53,000 and private sports are usually too expensive for most families.

How can students from low-income towns keep up with athletes who have parents or guardians in the middle- and upper-income levels?  Maloney High School baseball coach Ricky Marrero had an idea. The Meriden, Conn. native remembered his time playing baseball in the town and how the teams were consistently good, competing at the highest level in the state. When he took over his hometown program just a few years ago, the team had a 1-19 record and a losing mindset.


“It’s like they expected to lose,” Marrero said.

He knew the best teams had players who participated in summer and fall baseball, playing more than just the spring season. While he wanted his athletes to do the same, he knew not every family could afford it.


Marrero launched CT Riptides Baseball, a more affordable youth AAU-like program. He wanted to subsidize costs for his players and create a more active middle school program to prepare future athletes who will play in the Meriden high schools.

interview with ricky marrero part 1.

While the odds of playing Major League Baseball are low, Marrero hopes his athletes have fun, develop as young adults and garner college exposure via tournament play. Marrero also notes that players on his private team come from all backgrounds, combining affluent and low-income players.


"It’s more than baseball. We change the mindsets of these kids. We are trying to build successful adults. We hold them accountable for things they weren’t accountable for before,” Marrero added.

He hopes the CT Riptides players will develop into future Maloney Spartans, who will compete at the highest level in Connecticut, giving Meriden baseball players an equitable opportunity to succeed.

the breakdown:

swinging for the fences

the breakdown: by the numbers

This chart compares Cheshire and Meriden

This chart compares Cheshire and Meriden, two Connecticut towns in New Haven County. Featured on the chart are median household income, high school students at Cheshire and Maloney High School, annual number of student athletes and average number of athletes who go on to play college athletics per year.

coach's corner

Learn more about Cheshire high school lacrosse with coach devine.

Is college recruiting accessible to all athletes?

Watch and hear from Mike Devine, Cheshire High School Head Lacrosse Coach and Team Connecticut Lacrosse Club Coach. Devine shares his perspective when working with students during the college recruiting process.

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