Results tagged ‘ Spring Training ’

Baseball and Education: Spring Training

Fact: Only 1 out of 14 minor league players will make it to the major leagues; Including those that come for just a “cup of coffee”.

Earlier this year, former major leaguer, Shawn Green, tweeted, “Excited to watch the Stanford game…technically I’m still a junior there (I’m on the 30 year plan!)”.  For the former All Star, not finishing college is a bit of a joke but for the hundreds of minor leaguers who do not make it the major leagues, the absence of a college degree can severely limit their post-playing opportunities and income.

When I coached for the Brockton Rox, a minor league team in the CanAm League, players would talk to me about what they wanted to do after their playing career. I guess because I was working on my PhD in Sport Psychology, they figured I must know something about school and career transition. I tried not to disappoint.

Since coaching for the Rox and later becoming the first woman to throw batting practice to major league teams, I have been working at Sport in Society at Northeastern University. Sport in Society uses the power of sport to help create social change. Their mission and my life mission are the same – Thus I love my job! Sport in Society is making the world a better place and sometimes that starts on the baseball field.

There is an epidemic in the baseball community of players starting college but not finishing. Last year, one MLB team’s opening day roster included 18 players who had gone to college; but not one player had actually graduated. Yet the average major league career is only 4 years. When their playing career is over, we must wonder what comes next?

Sport in Society and Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies have teamed up to offer a customized online degree program for professional baseball players. We help the players arrange their classes around the baseball season and we provide a personal support system to help them succeed.

For the next 3 weeks, I will be at Spring Training talking to different MLB clubs and letting the players know that they can play baseball AND get an education. Each day, I will blog about my experiences and explore further the question of baseball, education, and the future of our ball players. Thank you for joining me on another part of my baseball journey.

*For more information on Northeastern University’s online degree program or Sport in Society, please send me a note and I’ll get right back to you.

Being Strong

“A strong woman is a woman determined to do something others are determined not be done.”
– Marge Piercy, American novelist

The other night, I was brushing my teeth, when the mirror finally caught my attention. For the first time in a long while, I saw my shoulders. And I saw that I was strong.

My strength and conditioning trainer, Michael Zolkiewicz, reminds me often, “To pull my shoulders back and walk like an athlete.” Through my years in boys’ baseball, I learned that acceptance often comes at the price of feigning invisibility. This included downplaying achievements, rarely talking, and never showing that I may be stronger than them. In short, eyes to the floor and shoulders in.

As I was sharing some of my angst over the limelight of Spring Training with Springfield College’s Head Baseball Coach Mark Simeone, he tried to comfort me, “But you are used to being different and being stared at.” And I replied, perhaps too quickly, “But I’m much more comfortable staying at home.”
And then with a breath of confession, murmured, “I just don’t live my life that
way.”

I am in the gym 6 days a week strengthening my arm and overcoming a pitching injury that once left me unable to wash my own hair. Between the medicine ball
training, the never-ending variety of planks, and the exhausting plyometrics, my
arm has become strong, durable, and pain free. Today, when I was throwing BP to the Springfield College team, a varsity player looked at me after his 6-hit
rotation and offered, ” You K’d me like three times.”

I think it’s time for me to redefine what acceptance is. Invisibility is no longer an option. And while I’m being noticed, I will pull my shoulders back, walk like an athlete, and know that I am strong.

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