Diamondbacks pitcher gives guitars to Alice Cooper teen center

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Kevin Ginkel has agreed to donate a guitar to Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Centers for every strikeout he throws at Chase Field this season.

Ginkel, whose song is Cooper’s’ 80s hit, “Poison,” also provided tickets to the Diamondbacks games for teens in the center as well as transportation to the games.

“I want to find ways to impact the community and help kids find their passion,” says Ginkel. “And what Mr. Cooper is doing here is really cool.”

Legendary rocker and wife Sheryl Cooper will be in downtown Mesa on June 7 for what he calls the “smooth” opening of a second Solid Rock Teen Center at a former elementary school at 122 N. Country Club Drive .

The first Teen Center opened in 2012 at the southeast corner of Thunderbird Road and 32nd Street in Phoenix, built in partnership with Genesis Church and Cooper’s Solid Rock after more than a decade of fundraising, primarily through its concerts. of Christmas Pudding and its spring golf events.

The centers offer free music, dance, arts and vocational training programs for teens 12 to 20 years old.

Ginkel said he was glad he could help

“There are so many different ways that kids can find ways to express themselves here,” says Ginkel. “And I think it’s really good that I’m just a little spoke on the wheel helping out.”

As of June 1, Ginkel had already struck out 13 batters at Chase Field – and 13 more on the road, but those don’t count towards free guitars.

He would like to get that strikeout total up to about 80 or 90, with 40 or 50 of those at home.

“That’s kind of the point,” he said.

The Launcher sees this partnership with the Cooper Center as a “better way” to donate.

“I think money is cool and everything,” he says. “But giving a real guitar that a child can play is so much more precious.”

Cooper agrees.

A guitar becomes a part of the person who plays it, he says.

“Great guitarists never lower their guitar. They always learn new things. And it’s something that you will never totally conquer. Because no one has ever totally conquered the guitar.”

Ginkel, like many athletes, loves music

Ginkel does not play the guitar.

“Unfortunately,” he adds.

His musical tastes range from classic rock (Pink Floyd, the Eagles) to post-grunge (Creed and Nickelback).

Cooper says most of the athletes he has met love music.

“I’ve never met a baseball player who didn’t want to play an instrument,” he says, mentioning the drums of former D-Backs pitcher Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson.

“The funny thing is we’re going to talk to these great baseball players and the only thing they want to talk about is music. And we’re sitting there like, ‘I wanted to be on the field. for the Tigers. ‘”

Ginkel says he sees a parallel between professional athletes and musicians.

“As baseball players we know we have a certain type of skill that a lot of other people can’t,” he says.

“But we’re always trying to learn and improve. It’s just in our nature. If we’re struggling, it’s like ‘Why don’t we try this? Or why don’t we fix this?’ It’s just the mindset of wanting to improve at something. “

Cooper worked with the Phoenix Suns on a new teen center

Cooper has teamed up with the Phoenix Suns on Mesa’s new teen center, which he says “looks spectacular” and includes a cool new feature.

“The Suns gave us $ 50,000 to build a basketball court, which we don’t have here,” he says.

“I think there’s going to be a little more outdoor stuff there. Even though there’s an art studio, a recording studio, all the guitars, a dance studio, everything. But there’s a whole lot of outdoor space that we don’t have to have here. “

He even made them quit monkey bars back when it was a school.

“I said ‘Leave them in place,'” says Cooper. “I said the kids would hang out by the monkey bars. Because it’s a cool place to hang out with your friends. And I think pickleball has become so popular that we need to build some pickleball courts there. I mean it’s obvious. “

Now that the second center is about to open, Cooper says he would like to continue to develop.

“Detroit needs 10,” he says.

“Chicago needs 10 of them. New York could use how many. We’ve had people come over to us and say, ‘Put one in our city.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But it’s not a McDonald’s. It takes a lot of work. And you have to start slow. ‘”

The aim of these centers, as always, is to give children a constructive outlet for their energy.

“All kids really need is something to connect with, something to put their energy into, which they really love,” the rocker said. “Because if they don’t, there’s so much on the street that they’re sucked into that is destructive. If I were a teenager right now? Boy. Navigating this world would be difficult.”

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-4495. Follow him on twitter @EdMasley.

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