WeWannaPlay has been assisting local student-athletes for years, helping them offset the costs associated with playing varsity sports at Frankfort, Franklin County and Western Hills.
The non-profit organization also had another idea to help.
“We’ve talked about a scholarship for a few years,” said Jeff Howard, the chairperson on WeWannaPlay’s board of directors.
“We threw it out there and no one bit on it. Then J.T. (Riddle) came aboard and made it happen.”
The J.T. Riddle Athlete of the Year Scholarship is available to student-athletes who are currently seniors at Frankfort High, Franklin County and Western Hills.
Riddle, a Western Hills graduate who was Kentucky’s Mr. Baseball in 2010, is donating $2,000 for the scholarship.
“I thought that was a great idea for $2,000 a year and what they’re going to do,” Riddle said. “I haven’t really had a chance to have my own non-profit group, so I’ve been working with them (WeWannaPlay). Jeff was my coach growing up, him and Buddy (Ritchie), and I played baseball with Marcus (Howard).
“When they came to me about putting it in my name, it was a great opportunity. I’ve worked with them the last few years as a way to help kids, and not just kids from Western Hills but from all around town.”
One female and one male student-athlete from each of the three public high schools will be chosen for the scholarship.
From that group of six, one female and one male student-athlete will be selected to receive the J.T. Riddle Athlete of the Year Scholarship, and each will be awarded $500.
The other four finalists will each receive $250 for the WeWannaPlay Recognition Scholarship.
This is a one-time scholarship and is not renewable.
Among the qualifications are a student must be enrolled in the Franklin County Public School System or the Frankfort Independent School System, must have a 2.5 grade-point average or higher upon graduation and must be a student-athlete who is listed as a player and participated in a KHSAA sanctioned sports program with the high school they are currently attending.
For more information about qualifications and the process of applying for the scholarship, students should check with their school counselors.
WeWannaPlay will host an awards banquet for the scholarship on April 26 with the food and venue donated by Terri’s Catering.
Riddle, who was a member of the Florida Marlins, is currently a free agent.
“I have officially been a free agent as of Dec. 2,” he said. “I went to arbitration a year earlier than expected. They had to make a decision to tender a contract or non-tender. My salary was going to raise, but I’m not sure of the exact number. They decided to let me go.”
Riddle spent three seasons with the Marlins and appeared in 223 games, playing shortstop and the outfield.
“I’ve had about eight to 10 offers, mainly minor league with an invite to big league spring training,” said Riddle, who added he hasn’t received an offer from the Cincinnati Reds. “That seems more likely, starting out in the minor leagues, Triple-A, like where I was three years ago. If someone gets hurt I can get called up and take advantage of the opportunity.
“I’m waiting to see what the best offer is. It’s my decision, and that’s kind of nice. My daughter is in kindergarten, and I think it might be nice to play a little closer to home.”