How Joe Maddon Changed My Life

How Joe Maddon Changed My Life

He's more than just a good baseball coach.
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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 http://hazletonintegrationproject.com/. 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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To The Coach Who Took Away My Confidence

You had me playing in fear.
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"The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure."

As a coach, you have a wide variety of players. You have your slow players, your fast players. You have the ones that are good at defense. You have the ones that are good at offense. You have the ones who would choose to drive and dish and you have the ones that would rather shoot the three. You have the people who set up the plays and you have the people who finish them. You are in charge of getting these types of players to work together and get the job done.

Sure, a coach can put together a pretty set of plays. A coach can scream their head off in a game and try and get their players motivated. A coach can make you run for punishment, or they can make you run to get more in shape. The most important role of a coach, however, is to make the players on their team better. To hopefully help them to reach their fullest potential. Players do make mistakes, but it is from those mistakes that you learn and grow.

To the coach the destroyed my confidence,

You wanted to win, and there was nothing wrong with that. I saw it in your eyes if I made a mistake, you were not too happy, which is normal for a coach. Turnovers happen. Players miss shots. Sometimes the girl you are defending gets past you. Sometimes your serve is not in bounds. Sometimes someone beats you in a race. Sometimes things happen. Players make mistakes. It is when you have players scared to move that more mistakes happen.

I came on to your team very confident in the way that I played the game. Confident, but not cocky. I knew my role on the team and I knew that there were things that I could improve on, but overall, I was an asset that could've been made into an extremely great player.

You paid attention to the weaknesses that I had as a player, and you let me know about them every time I stepped onto the court. You wanted to turn me into a player I was not. I am fast, so let me fly. You didn't want that. You wanted me to be slow. I knew my role wasn't to drain threes. My role on the team was to get steals. My role was to draw the defense and pass. You got mad when I drove instead of shot. You wanted me to walk instead of run. You wanted me to become a player that I simply wasn't. You took away my strengths and got mad at me when I wasn't always successful with my weaknesses.

You did a lot more than just take away my strengths and force me to focus on my weaknesses. You took away my love for the game. You took away the freedom of just playing and being confident. I went from being a player that would take risks. I went from being a player that was not afraid to fail. Suddenly, I turned into a player that questioned every single move that I made. I questioned everything that I did. Every practice and game was a battle between my heart and my head. My heart would tell me to go to for it. My heart before every game would tell me to just not listen and be the player that I used to be. Something in my head stopped me every time. I started wondering, "What if I mess up?" and that's when my confidence completely disappeared.

Because of you, I was afraid to fail.

You took away my freedom of playing a game that I once loved. You took away the relaxation of going out and playing hard. Instead, I played in fear. You took away me looking forward to go to my games. I was now scared of messing up. I was sad because I knew that I was not playing to my fullest potential. I felt as if I was going backward and instead of trying to help me, you seemed to just drag me down. I'd walk up to shoot, thinking in my head, "What happens if I miss?" I would have an open lane and know that you'd yell at me if I took it, so I just wouldn't do it.

SEE ALSO: The Coach That Killed My Passion

The fight to get my confidence back was a tough one. It was something I wish I never would've had to do. Instead of becoming the best player that I could've been, I now had to fight to become the player that I used to be. You took away my freedom of playing a game that I loved. You took away my good memories in a basketball uniform, which is something I can never get back. You can be the greatest athlete in the world, but without confidence, you won't go very far.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Silies

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5 Awesome Tweets For The City Of Champions

Boston has done it again this week with yet another Championship Title

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I have grown up in Boston during a time where all of their sports teams have thrived. Since 2002, one of our major sports team has won a championship title every year. This past week the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, and Boston fans are yet again going crazy over their city of championships. Here are some awesome tweets that have been released about the city's amazing streak.

1.@PatriotsSBLII

"The Red Sox ended a 630-day championship drought for the only city that measures its championship drought in days."

2. @sargvn

"How lucky are we to live in New England where we piss excellence."

3. @stoolpresidente

"My favorite part of being from Boston is being better than everybody else."

4. @Ian_OConnor

"On 10/17/04, the Red Sox entered 9th inn of ALCS Game 4 down 0-3 & 1 run to greatest closer ever, about to go 86 years w/o a title. They've won 4 World Series w/3 managers since that night. The haunted franchise now haunts everyone else."


@AdamMKaufman "The #Patriots won last night. The #Celtics and #Bruins won tonight.
The #RedSox #WorldSeries parade is tomorrow. Boston fans are dressing as winners for Halloween."

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