At the beginning of the year, most college baseball teams get together to come up with a motto for the upcoming season. “ONE HEARTBEAT,” “We’re busting ours to kick yours” and “UNCAGED” (College of Charleston) are prime examples of such proverbs that could only be created by the brilliant minds of your favorite student-athletes.
Luckily for the Paladins, we did not have to have this type of meeting before the season. Our motto was clear from day one. Furman Baseball: It’s for the Kids.
This motto began when the SoCon gave us the challenge of “Keeping Tabs on the Kids.” This is a league wide competition to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
While we try to stay away from soda, our team was able to find some other beverages that can be purchased in cans. No matter the time or day, we took our community service very seriously and always kept the kids in mind.
The next thing that we did for the kids was volunteering at the Mauldin Miracle League. The Miracle League is an organization that allows special needs children to play the game of baseball.
I could talk for days about the special times that I had working at the Miracle League. It was such a blast, and I know our whole team enjoyed the experience.
While my Yankees team really improved throughout the year, the life lessons that I was taught through working with these children are far more valuable than any baseball tips that I had to offer. The smiles on the player’s faces made each and every trip worthwhile. They showed us what true joy really means, no matter your circumstances or limitations.
Because we play at such a competitive level, we start to stress over our success and no longer view baseball as a game. Working at the Miracle League and interacting with the kids made me realize why I fell in love with baseball at such a young age.
Knowing how much we love doing it for the kids, our pitching coach Chris Edwards recently organized an opportunity for our team to raise money for a great charity. The St. Baldrick’s foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.
We would all have the chance to raise money for the foundation, and shave our heads after our game against South Carolina.
There was a competition between the two schools to see who could raise the most money during the game, which seemed a little unfair because out of the 6,000 people in attendance, only about 200 were wearing purple and white.
After losing a tight game with the two time defending national champs, three barber stations were set up on top of the dugout and the hair started to fall.
We ended up raising over $10,000 for St. Baldricks, which was enough to beat South Carolina in the most meaningful competition of the night. It was a truly special time for our program, and I hope that it continues as a tradition for many years to come.
I know that this sounds hypocritical coming from one of the few guys on the team who did not shave their heads. I have rocked the buzzed look before and it was not a pretty sight, so I made efforts to raise money but did not partake in the haircut that would reveal my oddly shaped head. My new look would be so hideous that it would scare people away from the good feeling that was brought on by the event, so I made an executive decision that was in the best interest of all who were involved.
If you have any other service opportunities and would like us to help out, please feel free to reach out and we will try to make it happen. While we are facing the academic home stretch and a key part of the season, we will be able to find time to lend a helping hand.
It’s for the kids,