North Central Missouri College alumni, Cle Ross, is making a difference with inner city youth ages three through eighteen with the love of baseball. Through his leadership as the Executive Director of Kansas RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), Cle helps disadvantaged inner city youth with mentorship through educational programs and activities related to baseball and softball. Kansas RBI is a non-for-profit organization that has helped more than 5,200 youth since its start in 2010. Kansas RBI is the only little league in the state of Kansas affiliated with Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals (www.kansasrbi.org).
Cle attended NCMC from 1999-2000 where he played for the Pirates Baseball team. After graduating from NCMC, he attended University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff. He continued to play baseball at the NCAA Division 1 level and received a degree in Mass Communications. Cle stated, "I loved my time at NCMC. I built friendships that still exist after 17 years that will last a lifetime, for example, last week I was visited by a good friend from New York who I met at NCMC while we were both playing sports. One significant change I seen coming back to NCMC is the diversity; I love seeing students on campus from a variety of backgrounds getting an opportunity to become educated while displaying their talent playing sports on the collegiate level."
"I will forever be grateful to the good Lord for blessing me with a good mother and the opportunity to play baseball at NCMC. NCMC gave me my first chance to play on scholarship, which meant I could finally focus on how I played instead of how I was going to pay" said Cle. "NCMC, baseball, and some of the friendships I built on campus helped me become a better student, athlete, and overall person. Leaving the city life and returning to the small town environment that Trenton offered was the best thing that happened to me, it reminded of Wellington, Ks the place where I grew up and allowed me to get back to the core values that I learned as a child. I understood that my goal to play Division I baseball was a wish if I didn't have a plan, so I spent a lot of my free time at the Ketcham Center working on my weaknesses to make myself a better player."
Cle went on to say, "It doesn't matter where you start it's all about where you finish. Effort is between you and you. Most people don't realize that I never got a chance to play high school varsity baseball and had to walk on my first year of college, but the driving force behind my success was the desire to play at a higher level then every player that played varsity in front of me during my high school years. When the dust settled, I made a believer out of a lot of people who doubted me by playing at a higher level then every player on all of those teams except two brothers who played AA and Major League Baseball. NCMC was the launching pad and foundation that allowed me to have a record-breaking career on both the Junior College and Division I level while becoming the first member of my family to play professional baseball."
Recently, Cle was inducted into the 2017 NCMC Athletic Hall of Fame for his success as an NCMC baseball player. In 2000, Cle set the single-season school record for stole bases at 43. He also has played at NCAA Division 1 level and minor league baseball. Cle also was a major component in the revitalization of the Barton-Ross Complex which bears his namesake. With these efforts, Kansas City, KS youth now have a "Class A" baseball field to practice and play (www.ncmcpirates.com). Cle said, "I pray being inducted into the NCMC Athletic Hall of Fame will give a young man or woman who is currently in a hopeless environment hope that they can go to college and do anything they put their mind to; if I could do it so can they."