Results tagged ‘ Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy ’

Mentoring: A Grand Slam Experience

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By John Walls
YBA Mentor

John Walls with Scholar AthleteOne hour. You’d be surprised how much you can get done and what a difference you can make in that time. For about as long as it takes to watch my favorite Netflix show, the time I spend mentoring at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy is giving me the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of young people, and to form relationships I hope will last for years to come.

As part of the Academy’s mission of focusing on helping youngsters in some of D.C.’s more challenging areas develop better academic and life skills, mentors in language arts, math, and science work regularly with scholar-athletes. I’ve been working with fourth graders Chalore and Kayla since the fall, and we just added Mikael to our group last week.

They’re quite a bunch! Sure, we might not always get through every lesson plan. Conversations about school, movies, dance teams, or whatever, tend to weave through the time we spend together. And I’ll admit, I’m not always sure I’m getting through to them.

But then you have one of those moments.

The eyes light up. The giggle’s for real. Or you can genuinely sense their pride when you give them a “Great Job!” when working through a nightly reading assignment. You know that being there, when you’re supposed to be, just for them, and really listening to what they have to say is making a difference.

That’s what mentoring is all about.

It’s a blessing to have the chance to be a positive role model for young people who really need that in their lives. The Academy is playing a vital role in the community, and it really is a privilege to be a part of it. You can watch Netflix any time, but you can make a difference in a child’s life, right now.  Give it a try!

YBA - Girls

January is National Mentorship Month, a great opportunity to highlight the work of theWashington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy – a new, state of the art education and recreation facility in Southeast D.C. – where Nats players and community volunteers alike have forged strong mentoring relationships with youth from at-risk communities.

For more information on how you can serve as a mentor at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy please visit: http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/youthbaseballacademy/getinvolved.jsp

No Excuses Mentoring: What you give is what you get

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By Christine Jackson
YBA Mentor

My plate is full. My schedule is already very tight. I can’t fit another thing into my life. I’m super busy!

20150127_190417All of these are valid excuses for NOT mentoring. But, at some point, when a little bit of time suddenly appears in your schedule, then what will your excuse be? While we are feeding our minds with how hectic our lives are, there are so many young people starving to get a little one-on-one time with one of us!

I came to this realization as I considered whether I could commit to mentor one night a week at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.  Of course, I made a mental note of my daily full-time work schedule and all the other items on my to do list. I remembered how exhausted I was after teaching school every day (over 20 years ago).  The list of excuses kept growing, but eventually, I made a decision to make a difference.

The factors that lead to students dropping out by ninth grade are well documented. As a parent of two young-adult children, I was familiar with the impact that significant adult relationships had on my children as they navigated through adolescence. I also know first-hand, growing up in D.C.’s Ward 8, how easily a child can slip through the cracks or become a victim of substandard education and low socio-economic conditions.  I was fortunate enough to have strong relationships with many adults, especially my parents, who forced me to read books throughout the summer, re-do homework until it was correct, and encouraged me to explore creative writing to express my vivid imagination far beyond the dismal condition of my immediate community that I saw on a daily basis.

So Tuesday nights became more beneficial to me as I saw the faces of Charles, Levon and Andre light up whenever I engaged them in a conversation about their lives. A little game time playing UNO or tackling brain teasers also helps to stimulate a little healthy competition! My momentary weariness quickly fades into their excitement each week. In fact, I know my words of encouragement and affirmation will stay with them long after this mentoring year ends.

It’s rewarding to be among the cadre of mentors who give to the lives of our scholar athletes each week with the realistic expectation that there will be a return on the investment manifested in the productive lives of our mentees!

 

YBA - Main Field Logo

January is National Mentorship Month, a great opportunity to highlight the work of theWashington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy – a new, state of the art education and recreation facility in Southeast D.C. – where Nats players and community volunteers alike have forged strong mentoring relationships with youth from at-risk communities.

For more information on how you can serve as a mentor at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy please visit: http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/youthbaseballacademy/getinvolved.jsp

Step Up To The Plate: Celebrating National Mentorship Month at the Nationals’ Youth Baseball Academy

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by Tal Alter

Over 20 years ago, Charles Barkley kicked up a national debate about the impact of professional athletes in society.  “I am not a role model,” he famously quipped.

While the indirect effect of professional athletes on kids might be up for debate, what’s absolutely clear is the meaningful difference a direct and consistent mentor can make in the lives of kids who need positive influences.

January is National Mentorship Month, a great opportunity to highlight the work of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy – a new, state of the art education and recreation facility in Southeast D.C. – where Nats players and community volunteers alike have forged strong mentoring relationships with youth from at-risk communities.

Tal Alter pic for mentoring blogAt the Academy, we call these young people our “scholar-athletes” – a term that reflects our two-fold commitment to helping them become physically fit and develop baseball skills, but also achieve academic success, enhanced confidence, and – ultimately – become young men and women of character.

All of our scholar-athletes live in either Ward 7 or 8, neighborhoods experiencing the challenges of high crime and poverty rates.  In these areas, fewer than 30% of elementary school students receive proficient test scores in math and reading, with astonishing high school dropout rates. Of youth who complete the 8th grade in these two Wards, 60% have vanished from the system by 10th grade.

These harsh realities can seem overwhelming and disheartening. But with a mentor at their side, our scholar-athletes are empowered to triumph over these statistics. At-risk youth who have a mentor in their lives are 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities.  They’re more than twice as likely to hold a leadership position in a club or team.  They’re more than 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who don’t have a mentor.

But approximately 9 million at-risk youth will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor, thus missing out on a relationship that could positively change the arc of their future.

We’re helping to close that gap at Nats Academy, where community volunteers turn out every night to serve as coaches, tutors and mentors for our scholar-athletes. They are dedicated to being a real, consistent and positive presence.

Over the coming weeks, we’re going to introduce you to some of these remarkable individuals. People who’ve made the decision to stand-up and declare “I am a role model,” and are putting those words into action.   They’ll be guest bloggers here on the Curly W blog – giving their first-hand perspective on the Nats Academy and the role they play in the lives of the young men and women we serve.

We hope their stories inspire you to become a mentor – at the Nats Academy or wherever you have a chance to make a positive difference in the life of a young person.

For more information on how you can serve as a mentor at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy please visit: http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/youthbaseballacademy/getinvolved.jsp

 

Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy Looking for Mentors

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by Kyle Mann

As the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy (WNYBA) enters its second year of core programming, the organization is looking for qualified volunteers from the community to support its academic enrichment programs.

The commitment for mentors is two hours, one day per week, and it is important that mentors are able to commit each week so they can become role models for the program’s scholar-athletes. These mentors will build a rich community that exposes young scholars to new perspectives and many forms of support. Mentors, in turn, are rewarded with the experience of making a dramatic and clear impact on the lives of young people.

Those who are interested, please see below, or visit the WNYBA website to apply. Applications received by September 5 will receive priority consideration.

The WNYBA is located at 3675 Ely Place SE. Street parking is available, and a shuttle is provided from the Stadium-Armory Metro (Orange/Blue/Silver lines) at 5:30 pm.

Washington NationalsGeneral Information:
Creative programming, based on nationally acclaimed models, will help boys and girls:
• Develop a passion for and skill in the game of baseball.
• Improve English Language Arts, Science and Mathematics outcomes.
• Be physically active, learn about nutrition and how to cook healthy foods.
• Grow through the years with an organization committed to their success.

Teaching Mentors Commitment:
What
: Teach a small group of third, fourth, or fifth graders in a core academic subject: Math (STEM), English Language Arts, or BrainFood (only available Thursdays) using provided baseball-themed lessons.
When: One night per week: (Tuesdays: 6:00 – 7:45 pm; Wednesdays: 6:00 – 7:45 pm; Thursdays: 4:00- 6:00 pm or 6:00 – 7:45 pm (as a Brain Food Assistant!)) plus 1 hour of lesson preparation per week.

Qualifications:
Mentors do not need to have any prior teaching experience to be a mentor and the curriculum is pre-developed and highly-structured. All we ask of you is your time and your energy. You will be a role model to your scholars, and you will play an important part in their lives as you develop relationships with them.

Requirements:
• Ability to make an academic year long commitment, September to May.
• Ability to lead engaging activities and lessons.
• Complete an interview, background check process, and TB Test.
• Flexibility and willingness to learn and attend all required trainings.

The following qualities are preferred but not required:
• Experience working with youth.
• Experience with curriculum and instruction.
• A working knowledge of the rules of baseball/softball.

 

Nationals players make final day of Summer Academy at YBA a memorable one

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 Washington Nationals

by Kyle Mann

On the final day of its Summer Academy Program, the scholar-athletes at the Washington Nationals’ Youth Baseball Academy had a few special visitors.

Aaron Barrett, Ian Desmond, Kevin Frandsen, Scott Hairston and Adam LaRoche visited the YBA on Friday morning, and though the experience was surely one the nearly-100 scholar-athletes participating would never forget, the Nationals players may have been the ones most impacted.

“It’s been a blast to be here,” LaRoche said of the Academy, a place he referred to as ‘The Disneyland of Baseball.’ “It was two hours of nothing but fun and smiles.”

The schedule for the day included games played simultaneously on the Academy’s three fields, one overseen by Hairston and his two sons, Dallas and Landon, one run by LaRoche and his daughter, Montana, and another by Barrett and Frandsen.

Desmond, who hosts a group of 20 Academy scholar-athletes at Nationals Park every month during the season as part of his Ian’s Academy All-Stars program, is also a Youth Baseball Academy Board Member. Serving in a role best described as roving fun instructor, he rotated between fields, alternating teaching proper footwork around the second base bag and giving one-on-one pep talks to future stars.

“All we can do is try to make an impact,” Desmond said. “It’s good for the kids, the parents, it’s all positive.”

While the constant chants supporting every batter emphasized how much fun this day was for the kids, Summer Academy coach Travaughn Kinney reminded his team about the importance of striving to be your best.

“Focus on having fun, but we love to win,” he told his team as they took the field.

Kinney, a two-sport college athlete from D.C., discussed the importance of baseball for children as part of their development.

“Baseball teaches patience, and kids from (this area) need that,” he said. “Baseball truly requires a team, and that’s my favorite part about the game.”

The Youth Baseball Academy is about a lot more than baseball, and the Summer Academy program is no exception. An integral part of the YBA’s year-round youth development program, the Summer Academy provides a safe, fun, and active learning environment that furthers its mission to use baseball and softball as vehicles to develop literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. The program also teaches scholar-athletes how to lead healthy lifestyles through fitness, proper nutrition and cooking lessons in a safe, nurturing environment.

The scholar-athletes partaking in the Summer Academy included rising fourth and fifth graders who participated in the Academy’s inaugural After-School Program, and rising third graders who started with the first Summer Academy.

In future years, Academy attendees will matriculate through the eighth grade while a class of rising third graders is added. To supplement learning at the Academy, the scholar-athletes took part in weekly experiential-learning field trips, including to the United States Botanic Gardens, the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater and the National Zoo.

But playing baseball with their favorite Nationals on the program’s final day may have offered the biggest highlight.

Here’s a photo gallery from the day:

 

Give With Us

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by Noah Frank

The #NatsWeekOfGiving has been chock-full of events both in the Washington D.C. community and around the world. From Denard Span and Ross Detwiler’s recent visit to The District, to Adam LaRoche embarking on the Chairman’s USO Holiday Tour, every day has brought new chances to give back.

Don’t forget to show us how you are pitching in this holiday season for the chance to win a Denard Span autographed jersey or an Adam LaRoche signed ball. To enter the contest, simply submit a photo on Twitter of what you are doing to give back with the hashtag #NatsWeekOfGiving by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, December 14. See complete contest rules here.

With that in mind, here’s a look back at the week so far, along with details of how you can get involved this weekend.

Monday:

Span and Detwiler arrived in Washington and headed straight to the nearly completed Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy for a tour of the facility. From there, it was off to Kimball Elementary – the current home of academic programming for the Academy until the building is finished in January – where the two interacted with the first class of Academy scholar-athletes. They answered questions about baseball and their lives off the field, and signed autographs for the children.

From there, they were off to the Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation’s 24th Annual Christmas with the Redskins Party. Academy participants Geornae, 10, and Delonte, 9, were Span and Detwiler’s special guests at the event.  The players spent the evening with them, eating dinner, playing games and opening Christmas presents.

Tuesday:

A little snow didn’t slow Detwiler and Span down as they made their way to MedStar Georgetown Hospital’s Lombardi Cancer Center to meet with pediatric patients in conjunction with the Hope for Henry Foundation. They were joined by Screech as they decorated an amazing, intricate Nationals Park gingerbread house, designed Nats ornaments and took pictures and signed autographs for the children. The visit also included personal room visits for those unable to participate in the larger group activities.

Wednesday:

LaRoche checked in with his first dispatch from the USO Holiday Tour, which had taken him to Greece. Already one of the team’s most involved players when it comes to military stationed in the D.C. area, LaRoche has been a perfect fit for such an adventure.

“I’ve never been around so many people who genuinely appreciate us being here,” he said in a recent email from abroad. “We continue to try to make it clear with our troops that we’re getting more out of this than we think they are.”

Meanwhile, back at home, Nationals staff took part in Project USO Elf  and helped distribute holiday gifts to military families. They were joined by Racing President Bill, as well at John “Cakes” Auville, John-Paul “JP” Flaim and Danny Rouhier, who helped gift-wrap and deliver donated presents.

You can still take part in the #NatsWeekOfGiving by taking part in Wreaths Across America’s wreath laying event at  Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday.  Nationals front office staff along with 106.7’s Holden Kushner will be at the event along with thousands of other volunteers. This special day pays tribute to all who lost their lives in service to our country. If you are unable to make it but would like to donate to the cause, you can do so before midnight tonight. Sponsors for wreaths are sill needed and you can contribute at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.  You can keep up with the organization on Twitter @WreathsAcross.

Thanks to all of you who have joined us thus far. It’s not too late to get in the spirit of the #NatsWeekOfGiving!

LaRoche Launches #NatsWeekOfGiving

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by Noah Frank

On Thursday, the Washington Nationals announced our #NatsWeekOfGiving, which will run through next weekend and will include visits from players, mascots and staff to the Youth Baseball Academy, MedStar Georgetown, Arlington National Cemetery and more. But the week launched in earnest on Friday, when the USO announced that Adam LaRoche has been invited by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, to take part in his upcoming Holiday Tour. LaRoche follows in the tradition of Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen as Nationals players to take part in the military venue tour.

“They said it’s something you don’t want to miss,” said LaRoche of his conversation with his teammates about their experience on the Holiday Tour last year. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for four or five years.”

LaRoche will be joined this year by Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Bridget Kelly, former New England Patriots offensive tackle and three-time Super Bowl champion Matt Light, actor/comedian Thomas “Nephew Tommy” Miles, stars of A&E’s hit reality show “Duck Dynasty” Jep and Willie Robertson, and former correspondent on NBC’s “The Voice” Alison Haislip.

Much like Detwiler and Stammen last year, LaRoche admitted that he really didn’t know how to mentally prepare for the trip, as he has no idea what to expect. Nevertheless, LaRoche’s experience with veterans in the states has helped fill him with anticipation for the trip.

“All they want is to be back over with their brothers in arms,” LaRoche said of the Wounded Warriors he has visited with at Walter Reed Medical Center over the past three seasons. “If that doesn’t inspire you a little bit, there’s something wrong with you.”

We will have coverage of LaRoche’s USO Tour experience right here on Curly W Live.

In the meantime, you can take part in our #NatsWeekOfGiving by submitting a photo on Twitter of what you are doing to give back this holiday season. To enter the contest, simply submit a photo with the hashtag #NatsWeekOfGiving by 11:59pm on Saturday, December 14. Our Grand Prize Winner will take home an autographed Denard Span jersey and our top runner-up will win an Adam LaRoche-signed ball! Click below for official contest rules and let’s get the giving underway.

- OFFICIAL #NATSWEEKOFGIVING CONTEST RULES -

Bolstering Baseball Beginnings

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by Noah Frank

While the headline news of the day may have been the announcement that Adam LaRoche would join Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey to take part in his upcoming USO Tour (more on that later), there was another event happening at Nationals Park on Friday. New Nationals Manager Matt Williams met with a couple dozen youth baseball coaches and administrators from Washington, D.C. to discuss the future of the game in our nation’s capital.

Ray asks a question as Williams and local youth baseball coaches look on.

Ray (left) asks a question as Williams (back right) and local youth baseball coaches look on.

Over lunch at the Red Porch, Williams fielded honest questions and concerns and interacted with the group for the first time. He listened to stories of the youth baseball landscape in D.C. and the challenges that face those charged with coaching and mentoring our local youth. And while the group was never going to solve every issue in a single lunch, the event offered an opening up of dialogue with the most publicly visible coach in The District.

“I think it’s awesome for the baseball community and for the D.C. community to have the Nationals extend their hand,” said Clark Ray, Executive Director of the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA). “I know these guys are just ecstatic about having the opportunity here today.”

The dream of revitalizing baseball among D.C. youth is a project that will take years to become a reality. The official opening of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in January will help further that process, but initial conversations like the one on Friday help set the tone for accomplishing those long-range goals. They also provide a little inspiration for the coaches working hard every day to spread the dedication for the game they love to the next generation.

“Just that reverberating through the community will help elevate baseball in the city moving forward,” said Ray of the event, and how it can help the coaches involved. “I think it gives them a little more moxie. I bet you some of these coaches will speak with a little more passion after today. It’s great for baseball.”

Celebrate #GivingTuesday With The Nationals!

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#GivingTuesday is a national movement that recognizes the Tuesday following Thanksgiving as the opening day of the giving season. Nonprofits across the country participate in a competitive, 24-hour online fundraiser for their causes.

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation — the Nationals’ charitable arm — is proud to be a major supporter of the new Youth Baseball Academy and other important community projects that focus on children’s education, health and recreation.

Click the link below between 12:01 a.m. and midnight on Tuesday to learn about our work and make a donation to help improve the lives of families across the D.C. region.

Additional prize money will be awarded to nonprofits with the most donors during the hours of 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., so please donate during those hours if you can!

- LEARN MORE AND DONATE TODAY! -

Progress on the Academy

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by Noah Frank

On Thursday, members of the local media were invited on a tour of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Ward 7, to take in, first-hand, all of the progress there. Turf has been laid down on two of the three fields, including  Field One, a full-size baseball field. The framework of the facility’s centerpiece – an 18,000 square foot building that includes eight classrooms, a teaching kitchen, batting cages and a fitness area – has been built, and crews worked around the touring party during Thursday’s visit as they remain on target for a January 2014 completion date.

For your own first-hand view, explore this gallery for updated photos of the beautiful site as it begins to come together, and click the link below to follow the progress live from our on-site camera.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

- Click Here to Watch Live Progress on the Academy -

Read more at nationals.com and masnsports.com, and watch video from the tour at CSNWashington.com.

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