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The Drill: Jason Turner giving back to his community through baseball

Worthington resident Jason Turner, who grew up in Storden, is working through WAYBA to transform the baseball facilities in his adopted home town

 WAYBA chairman Jason Turner is helping the local baseball experience get better in Worthington.
WAYBA chairman Jason Turner is helping the local baseball experience get better in Worthington.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- Jason Turner, a small-town boy from Storden, chose small-town living when he graduated from the University of Minnesota as a young man, and today, he is doing his best to give back to his community.

Turner, the chairman of WAYBA (Worthington Area Youth Baseball Association), is spearheading an effort to continue with improvements to the Worthington middle school baseball field (sometimes called “The Swamp”) in an effort to make it a true jewel among all the other southwest Minnesota diamonds.

Turner learned the benefits of small-town living as a young boy.

“I grew up in the area. I grew up in Storden. I attended Storden-Jeffers High School at that time. I played three sports -- football, basketball and track. My dad (Denny Turner) was a track coach, so track was highly encouraged at my house. Actually, my senior year I played four sports. I played baseball my senior year. Mentioning my dad (who also coached a state tournament S-J boys basketball team), he was a long-time teacher and coach at Storden-Jeffers. He taught for 20 years and coached for about 23 years.”

After graduating high school, Jason attended Worthington Community College, where he played basketball. He then attended the University of Minnesota to study pharmacy. He accepted a position in pharmacy in 1994 and has been in Worthington ever since.

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Worthington’s high school, Legion and amateur baseball field is mostly vacant now in the latter days of July 2022 as its primary teams are no longer in action. But it was a good year. The infield and the grass were well-manicured all spring and summer. And several improvements already completed through the partnership of city, school and WAYBA are well-received by the baseball community. But there is still much more to do.

Plans have been conceived to move the batting cages, to create an arched entry to the complex, to replace the chain-link backstop and to extend and replace it with netting. WAYBA hopes to cover the main set of bleachers with a steel structure, secure an elevated viewing deck above the third-base dugout, and fashion a berm beyond the left-field fence area to improve viewing options there.

People may donate to the Baseball Field Capital Campaign through WAYBA’s online site at worthingtonyouthbaseball.com.

The Globe met with Jason Turner recently to talk about his youth, his life’s choices, and the ball field campaign. You can see our video online at www.dglobe.com . Here is a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: You’ve lived in Worthington since 1994, and you’re still here. Why?

ANSWER: “I kind of thought I’d be the cliche -- the small-town kid leaves the small town, goes to the Twin Cities and never wants to come back. It just must be how I’m made, ‘cuz it was actually quite the opposite. I couldn’t wait to leave the Twin Cities. I love going to sporting events up there, but I just didn’t appreciate the rat race, and it wasn’t really where I wanted to start my pharmacy practice.”

QUESTION: How did WAYBA arrive at the decision to begin its baseball field fund-raising campaign?

ANSWER: “As the chairperson of WAYBA, we kind of took tours around the area -- even the Tri-State area -- and got to see some really nice facilities in other towns. After doing that for a few years, it kind of dawned on me, ‘Why can’t we have that in Worthington?’ Our field, itself, was pretty good. The school had upgraded the facilities out here to improve the dugouts, improve the bathrooms, put in irrigation, and so the groundwork had kind of been set for something to happen. The administration of the school district, and also the city kind of decided that if we want to create a community where people will want to stay and raise their families, we need to create some cool things for people to do.”

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QUESTION: Growing up, have you got any favorite sports memories to tell?

ANSWER: “The main things that stick out to me are the stories that my dad would tell. He always loved the underdogs. Coming from a small town like he did in Round Lake, and then going and coaching at a small school, most of the time we were underdogs. He always talked about kids who -- maybe they were a little bit meek and lacked confidence -- and he would always talk about, ‘You know what, sports are really a neat thing for what it can do in a kid’s life. You show a kid that you believe in him and show a little confidence in him, and pretty soon they’re believing in themselves.’ And he said the funnest thing about coaching kids is seeing that moment when they do something for themselves that they never thought they could do.”

Related Topics: BASEBALLTHE DRILL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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