MISSOULA, Mont. - The Missoula Osprey with help of their partners, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana and Sylvan Learning, kicked off the club's biggest and most successful community program, Hit the Books, in nearly 30 area elementary schools.
The Osprey started the Hit the Books Reading Program in their inaugural season in 1999 and have seen participation grow over time. 4,777 students spanning 241 classrooms are participating in the 2015 edition of Hit the Books, where annually nearly 50,000 books are read.
"Hit the Books is one of the best reading programs in all of professional baseball," Osprey Vice President/General Manager Jeff Griffin said. "The program is incentive based designed for Missoula-area students to set goals and follow through with achieving them over a seven week period."
Hit the Books is set up like a baseball game, meaning there are nine innings (three books equals one inning), where students receive a different prize for each inning completed. Every student that participates gets a letter of achievement and is entered to win a Kindle Reader. Other prizes include Osprey themed school supplies, an exclusive dessert party with team mascot Ollie, and ticket vouchers to an Osprey game. Over $100,000 in prizes was awarded to area students in 2014.
The program culminates with a celebration at one of eleven Osprey home games designated as Hit the Books Nights, where students are honored for their achievements.
"The program wouldn't be what it is today without the support of our partners," Griffin said. "We are also very proud of all of time the students and teachers put in to make it a success. Educators tell us the program helps motivate students as summer vacation approaches."