How Joe Maddon Changed My Life

How Joe Maddon Changed My Life

He's more than just a good baseball coach.

There's one name that's been filling my Facebook feed recently: Joe Maddon. Being that he is from my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, everyone seems to have a story of how they know Joe. Although I can't say I know him personally, I can say that the work he has done within my community has greatly impacted me. This is the story of how Joe Maddon changed my life.

People often fear what they don't understand. I live in an area where this is particularly prevalent. During the recession, the price of living greatly dropped in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. This lead to an influx of people from New York and New Jersey, locations where it was very expensive to live, looking for jobs and cheaper housing. Many of these people were Latino. This change in the population demographic led to a ripple effect that I still witness every day.

It is extremely difficult to see a sense of community when the people of said community are divided by misunderstanding and racism. I grew up seeing a divide in school, and have also come to see a divide in the workforce. Joe Maddon had also witnessed this divide within the community that he grew up in. His goal was to "transform Hazleton through integration." And so, along with his cousin Elaine, Joe started the Hazleton Integration Project within the Hazleton One Community Center.

The only idea of community I ever really knew was the basic description defined by my social studies textbook; I'd never fully seen it for myself. That was until the summer before my junior year of high school. I began volunteering at the Hazleton One Community Center, which is a summer and after-school program for children of all ages. The program is open to all children; however, it is primarily attended by Latinos. Prior to this, I had always considered myself to be opened minded, especially compared to those around me. It wasn't until I realized the good that was occurring in my community did I truly open my eyes to my surroundings. The community center offers services to people of all ages and races. There is tutoring and Rosetta Stone and meals - all at little to no cost. It was not only the services that astounded me. I met the most wonderful, genuine people. How was it possible that the people that I'd grown up hearing people complain about would end up being some of the best people I've ever come to know? People that had been categorized as lazy and unintelligent were some of the most hardworking people I had ever met and had overcome more hardships in their lives than anyone I'd ever met.

I entered the community center on the first day excited to make an impact on the lives of others. What I never expected was how strong of an impact others would have on my life. The lessons I've learned from my time at the Hazleton One Community Center, and the lessons I'll continue to learn as I continue my work there, are lessons that I will take with me throughout my life.

So to Joe (and Elaine), I say thank you. Thank you for giving the children of Hazleton a safe, fun place to attend. Thank you for providing important services to those in need. Thank you for seeing the best in our community, and for never giving up on it when so many others had. Most importantly, thank you for making me a better person. No matter what the result of the 2016 World Series is, Joe will always be our hometown hero.

If you would like to learn more about the Hazleton Integration Project, please visit This is an amazing organization run by amazing people and I am so unbelievably lucky to have been involved with it.

Cover Image Credit: Kyra Schell

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A Catcher Doesn't Stop Being A Leader When It's Time To Hang Up The Cleats, It's A Lifestyle That Lasts Forever

Catcher play a big role on the diamond and it's not just to catch the ball.

They wear "The Tools of Ignorance" and have a very important job on the diamond. Whether it be softball or baseball catchers have a big job behind the plate.

The catcher is the leader of the team.

They control both the infield and outfield. They relay messages from the coaches to the rest of the team and they are the coaches right-hand man. They get on the umpires good side to get calls and work for their pitchers to get strikes.

Besides controlling the team the catcher has one very important person to take care of, the pitcher.

A pitcher has to trust that their catcher will stop whatever they throw at them, whether it be a good pitch or a bad pitch. Catchers have to know each pitcher on a very personal level to keep them composed on the mound. They must know how each pitcher throws, what they throw, and what is working that day.

Being a catcher doesn't end when you leave the sport.

The relationships you build from being a leader stay with you for life. When you leave, your pitcher is still your pitcher. Your second baseman is still your second baseman. Your team is still your team. You're not just a teammate anymore, you're something so much more. Something you only get from being behind the plate and taking care of our team. They are your family and will be your family forever.

The catcher isn't just a player on the field, they are the leader. They are the go to for anything that needs to be done. They pick up any player who is down and take care of each player. Being a catcher gave me many great relationships and I am forever thankful.

Cover Image Credit: Mallory Lewis

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4 Reasons Why The Boston Red Sox Will Win The AL East

I am SO pumped for the 2018 season.

Opening Day is just a small handful of days away (thank GOD) so most of the teams in baseball are done making big, impact moves. That means it's time for me to put on my thinking cap and give y'all some predictions. This week, I'm talking about the AL East of course.

The Yankees and the Red Sox are really in a dead heat for the top spot, while everyone else in the division is literally a joke. Especially the Rays. Today, I'm gonna hit you with five reasons why the Red Sox will win the AL East for the third straight year.

1. J.D. Martinez

Obviously, the acquisition of J.D. Martinez is huge for this team. They desperately needed offense, and Martinez really fits in nicely in the lineup. You can read more about my thoughts on the acquisition here. Also, seeing a 3-4-5 lineup of Benintendi/Ramirez/Martinez go toe-to-toe with the Yankees 3-4-5 guys (Sanchez/Judge/Stanton) is going to be very, very entertaining.

2. Bullpen

Call me crazy, but I like this Red Sox bullpen. Even more than the one that the Yankees have. I'll take Craig Kimbrel over Aroldis Champman any day, and I've got serious questions about Dellin Betances's ability to pitch deep into the season after what happened last year. And the numbers agree with me: In 2017, the Red Sox had the #2 bullpen in baseball, while the Yankees had the #3 one. It may be a small fraction, but that's all it takes to edge out your competitor, especially when the division is gonna be as tight as it will be this year.

3. Starting Rotation

Call me not-so-crazy not this one, folks. The Red Sox have guys that are ready to rock and roll in that rotation, including a rested Chris Sale and a new-and-improved David Price. Drew Pomeranz is lights out (when he's healthy) and Rick Porcello can settle solidly into a good 3 or 4 down the stretch. I have a lot of questions about the Yankees rotation (which you can read about here) and less when it comes to the Red Sox.

4. Andrew Benintendi

Oh, you KNEW my man Benny Biceps was gonna make the list. I — and everyone else — is anticipating a huge year from Benintendi, and he's gonna be the player that really pushes this team over the edge. Did he cut his hair? Sure, but he still looks GREAT and is ready to kick some ass.

What other reasons have you got as to why the Red Sox are gonna be the 2018 AL East champs? Let me know below, and if you think the Yankees are gonna win, don't let me know below!

Cover Image Credit: Hannah Martian

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