Ahead in the Count

The D.R.

written by Dan Spring

I just returned to Los Angeles late Monday night from my 5th trip to the Dominican Republic and thought I’d share a little story.

 

Quick background: the reason for the yearly trips to the DR that many coaches on this blog have participated in is John “Coach Mac” McCarthy’s Beisbol y Libros program.  Located in Consuelo, a small town about 30 minutes outside of San Pedro de Marcoris, the ByL program has been running in one form or another since 1999 as a way to use baseball as motivation for students to get after it in the classroom.  Needless to say, most families in Consuelo are extremely poor and in addition to lacking basic needs such as three meals a day and health care, the baseball-crazy kids there are without gloves, balls, bats, and helmets; they play baseball in the street with sticks as bats, rocks as balls, and milk cartons as gloves.  Coach Mac’s program provides any child in Consuelo the opportunity to participate in daily practices on well-maintained fields with equipment and trained coaches, as long as they keep up with their studies in the classroom.

 

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Every week during lunch at our Spring Training Summer Baseball Camp, Coach Flikke or I tell the story of the Dominican little leaguers and how different their lives are from those of our campers.  We talk about how little money they have, how many of the kids in Consuelo go to bed hungry every night, and how all any of them really want is a baseball glove to call their own – something I certainly took for granted growing up and I’m sure many of our campers do as well.   We also relay to our campers how much we admire the Dominican’s love for the game and how it is reflected in the joy they exude whenever they are on the diamond, despite the difficulties they face in their daily lives.  The point of telling the story is not to make our campers feel guilty for the luxuries they have, but rather to make them feel thankful for the little things that are often taken for granted.

 

We wrap up the story by encouraging the boys and girls to bring in any of their old baseball equipment to donate to the kids in Consuelo, and every week I drive away from the field with dozens of gloves, hats, batting gloves, balls, and cleats to bring with me on my trips to the D.R.  I’m extremely proud of how generous all our campers have been with their equipment over the years; but one story of selflessness last summer really stands out.

 

Graham, one of our long-time campers, was planning his 12th birthday party and decided that he wanted to do something special for the kids in Consuelo.   So, in lieu of asking for presents for himself, he asked all his friends to bring a brand new glove to his party so that he could then, in turn, give the gloves to the ByL program.  When all was said and done, the program in the Dominican had 25 new gloves to use at its practices.   Graham decided that the joy the Dominicans would get out of receiving new baseball gloves would far outweigh the joy he would get from another year of presents for himself, and he acted upon that notion.  

 

The simple act of putting other’s needs ahead of your own is an impressive thing to see; to witness that level of self-awareness and selflessness from a 12 year was just awesome.  We often talk about the virtues of being a “giver” and not a “taker.”  Graham exemplified what being a giver is all about.

 

As coaches, winning games is fun and watching our players succeed on the field both as individuals and as a team is definitely rewarding. 

 

But stories like Graham’s…that’s really why we coach.

December 3, 2008 - Posted by | Sports Around the World, written by Dan Spring

1 Comment »

  1. Spring,
    thanks for taking me back to some wonderful memories of a country and people who appreciate things to the core. playing a game on a field there, with the sun setting, and cows ( they were supposed to be cows anyway) sauntering through the out field, sugar cvane fields in lieu of corn fields, with kids who had been there since sun rise, is a memory i will take to my grave with me.

    Comment by mwhitey | December 5, 2008


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