Breaking Barriers: Jackie Robinson’s daughter visits the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy
A black-and-white photo of the legendary Jackie Robinson hangs in the hallway of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. Every week, hundreds of the Academy’s scholar-athletes walk past this image, which serves as a reminder of the obstacles that the Hall of Famer was able to overcome during his groundbreaking career.
On Thursday, Feb. 11, 70 scholar-athletes at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a tangible connection to history when Jackie Robinson’s daughter, Sharon, visited the Academy.
Sharon’s visit was linked to the 20th Anniversary for Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, an educational program she founded. This initiative is one of the many ways in which Sharon has carried on her father’s legacy – by dedicating her life to teaching children how to overcome obstacles, as her father did while breaking baseball’s color barrier.
The 2016 Breaking Barriers program includes an essay contest that will reward 20 students in grades 4-9 with prizes such as trips to the 2016 MLB All-Star Game and the 2016 World Series. The contest encourages students to share stories describing how they have used Jackie Robinson’s values to handle difficulties in their lives.
A warm and engaging spirit, Sharon’s passion for children was evident in the way she interacted with each of the scholar-athletes during her visit. From high-fives to hugs, the students were thrilled to be in the presence of someone so intimately connected to one of baseball’s most important figures.
“Everything the academy is doing here is so critical for these kids,” Sharon said. “Having a place like this that is beautiful, they have lots of people that support them, and they have people from their own community supporting them, as well as older mentors and teachers. It makes me feel very hopeful. I’m glad the Nationals have made this a part of their commitment to the community.”
Brandon, a fourth-grade scholar-athlete, was particularly excited to meet Sharon. Brandon had just completed a class project for Black History Month, where he wrote about Jackie Robinson’s life and the trials he encountered throughout his career. Brandon received an A+ for his effort, and was given the special opportunity to share the project with Sharon, who certainly knows Jackie Robinson’s story well. Sharon was impressed by Brandon’s work, and even said he found a picture of her father she had never seen before.
Sharon commended the Nationals and the Academy for their dedication to the development of underserved youth in the Washington, D.C. community.
The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy was grateful for Sharon’s visit and her dedication to youth across the country. Sharon’s afternoon at the Academy gave each of the students a special experience they will never forget.