Parents Pay it Forward to Valley softball coach helping players succeed on and off field

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Mike O'Dell received $500 for all his volunteer work for the girl's softball team in Maricopa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Mike O'Dell received $500 for all his volunteer work for the girl's softball team in Maricopa. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
O'Dell started the Maricopa Sandlot Club softball team as a way to expose girls to a sport that's not only fun but also life-changing. (Source: CBS 5) O'Dell started the Maricopa Sandlot Club softball team as a way to expose girls to a sport that's not only fun but also life-changing. (Source: CBS 5)
O'Dell got a little emotional when he received the Pay It Forward reward. (Source: CBS 5) O'Dell got a little emotional when he received the Pay It Forward reward. (Source: CBS 5)
MARICOPA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Mike O'Dell spends time hitting ground balls and running batting practice.

"You've got to work out schedules with different teams and places, and reserve fields with the City," said O'Dell. "It gets a little hectic sometimes, but the amount of time is worth it for what we do for the kids."

O'Dell is one of the hardest working girls softball coaches in Maricopa, and he doesn't get paid a dime, juggling work and family to make a difference in young athlete's lives.

A couple years ago, O'Dell started the Maricopa Sandlot Club softball team as a way to expose girls to a sport that's not only fun but also life-changing.

"Teaching them that discipline and hard work are more than just softball things," said O'Dell. "It's about life lessons that you learn working together with your teammates, putting in the work to get something done, whether it's sports related or not."

Parent Jeremy Merchant has seen what an impact O'Dell has had on the girls and the community, so he reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to a coach whose dedication to his players is on display every time he takes the field.

"In talking to my daughter, she felt that he deserved to be recognized," said Merchant. "We felt as parents that he needed to be recognized for all the stuff that he does."

A CBS news crew showed up at practice last week to present O'Dell with $500.

"We wanted to thank you for all of this, and doing what you do, day in and day out, so we decided to submit you to CBS 5 Pay it Forward," Merchant told O'Dell. "This is all of us saying thank you for everything you do, so here's [sic] 500 bucks."

"I played sports growing up, and it did a lot for me and my structure," said O'Dell. "Hopefully, we can give that to the girls, to give them the same feeling going forward."

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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