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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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything

They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.

Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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The Oakland Athletics Are Boring, Fun, And Winning!

"Moneyball" is alive and well.

Whenever the Oakland Athletics baseball team is brought up in conversation, it's most likely in the context of "Moneyball", the 2011 film starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Pitt assumes a charismatic role as Oakland’s general manager, Billy Beane, while Hill serves as a more robust version of Beane’s assistant, Paul DePodesta. While I believe that "Moneyball" is an extremely flawed interpretation of the 2002 Oakland Athletics season, the film received critical acclaim for its ability to convey the sophistication behind sabermetrics, an empirical analysis of baseball.

I was only three years old when Oakland shocked the baseball world by remarkably winning twenty games in a row and capturing the best record in the Major Leagues. Four years later, I fell in love with the A’s during the 2006 MLB Postseason, most likely due to the team’s vibrant green and gold colors. I can proudly say that I have remained a loyal Oakland supporter ever since.

Despite my unconditional love for Oakland, the team never fails to frustrate me. The A’s play in a small market and do not maintain disposable funds like the Yankees and Red Sox do.

Thus, Oakland is often unable to resign its standout players once their contracts expire. It's difficult to develop a successful franchise with such little money, but the A’s have always found ways to acquire quality talent at bargain prices.

This season is no different. As I write this, Oakland currently sits at 25-22, two games out of a Wildcard Playoff spot. According to Spotrac, the A’s also have the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball at $71 million.

$71 million? Sounds like a lot of money, right? Well, $71 million is essentially chump change for other big league clubs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers payroll for 2018 is $187 MILLION. How many wins do the Dodgers have? 20. The Dodgers have 5 fewer wins than the A’s despite spending $115 million more on their players. Baseball is crazy!

I’ve tried my best to watch as many A’s games as possible this season. 47 games later, I can confidently label this team as BORING. They are so damn boring that it's sometimes difficult to watch them play for nine whole innings without falling asleep.

It seems as though every at-bat ends in either a strikeout or a walk. Not many players on the team are capable of making contact with the ball consistently.

Yet, at the same time, Oakland can be such an exciting team. When they aren’t striking out or drawing bases on balls, the A’s are belting baseballs into the outfield seats. Oakland is fifth in the MLB with 60 home runs and leads the majors in homers on the road.

Pretty impressive for a team whose core pieces are Khris Davis, Matt Olson, and Jed Lowrie.

Most importantly, the Athletics are winning. After missing the postseason three years in a row, Oakland has a legitimate chance to reach the playoffs this season. Beane has cleverly assembled a group of 25 players at minimal cost who are keen on winning.

I’ve always embraced the underdog role. Underdogs are challenged to overcome adversity in their pursuit of success. Oakland is much the same way, and that is why I connect so well with the players and organization as a whole.

Critics claim that the “Moneyball” strategy is dying and that sabermetrics are outdated. The Athletics are here to prove haters wrong. It's still early in the season, but Oakland continues to exceed expectations.

Only time will tell if the boys in green and gold can keep it up for the remainder of the year, but I am optimistic about this team’s future.


Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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