Baseball and Education: Our FutureMarch 29, 2012
“She was the only girl on her Canyon del Oro Little League baseball team and played second base. John Green said his daughter wanted to be the first woman to play major league baseball.”
– Christina-Taylor Green’s Obituary. Age 9, Victim in the Tucson Shootings.
I took off my Christina-Taylor Green “Hope” bracelet and placed it on my closet shelf. I was officially done with my three and half week trip through Spring Training. It was a long haul but I loved it. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to combine my three loves: education, baseball, and helping people.
Joe Neikro pulled me aside from the other women who were trying out for the Colorado Silver Bullets and told me he had seen enough and to expect a phone call in a few months. I can’t find the words to describe the euphoria that I felt the night I received that phone call or the thrill of signing my first pro contract.
Before I got to the Bullets’ camp, I was having some arm troubles, but I figured I could just work through it. It was a spring training game under the lights and I was called in to get us out of a jam. Men on 1st and 2nd, with no outs. On my first pitch the runner got caught stealing third; I then struck out the second batter; And the next guy grounded out. No one scored. Inning over.
After the game, I was summoned by coaches Joe and Phil Neikro. Later, when I left the lockerroom, I saw my grandfather beaming at me. He said I was the best that pitched that night and that I was sure to make the team. I gave him a hug. But I had just been cut. And just like that – my pro baseball dream was over. And I didn’t sleep for a month.
Getting “cut” can have serious ramifications. Twenty percent of elite athletes require considerable psychological adjustment upon their career termination (Lavallee, 2005). Helping athletes both prepare and cope with retirement can help lower career transition distress (Wippert & Wippert, 2010; Lavalle, 2005; Baillie & Danish, 1992).
Like many of the minor leaguers that I talked to during this spring training trip, I also left school early to pursue a professional baseball career. Then when I was released I went back to school. Through my education, I have had the amazing opportunities to chase other dreams – some I have caught – others I’m still running after – and ones I haven’t even dreamt yet.
Sport in Society understands that an education can help players prepare and cope with retirement. Northeastern University has made it possible for professional baseball players, coaches, and umpires to chase their dreams while also preparing for their life journey.
In a discussion on the benefits of our program, I shared that, “a degree would likely make the players better husbands and fathers.” And without hesitation, the Assistant GM replied back, “And it will also make them better players.”
This is what baseball AND an education can do.
-To read more about Justine’s journey through spring training, visit http://justinebaseball.mlblogs.com.