I Love Medical School: An Update from Salomon in the Dominican Republic

09/17/12

Swapping his baseball bat for a stethoscope may have been one of the most natural transitions Salomon ever made. The young Dominican athlete-turned-medical-student just finished his second year of university, and is excelling in his studies. This talented third-baseman from the Children of the Nations (COTN) I Love Baseball program (ILB) will soon be providing health care for his countrymen. “I want to be a doctor because I believe that I have a calling to serve others, and through medicine I can put this gift into practice,” he says.

The news of Salomon’s progress comes as no surprise to Ben Holman, the USA coordinator of I Love Baseball. When Salomon entered the program in Barahona, Dominican Republic, in 2008, he was a shy, insecure teenager with loads of potential on the field and in the classroom. Ben and the ILB coaches saw it as their duty to nurture Salomon’s inherent abilities while Salomon’s sponsors provided the means for him to succeed. “He’s always been a smart kid, he’s always been talented, and I Love Baseball helped pull that out,” Ben says. “I’ve seen him develop into a leader ... and understand who he is.”

When he entered the ILB program four years ago, Salomon says he was a pretty average teenager in Barahona. His family had enough money to feed and clothe themselves, but paying for a good education was a different story. “They couldn’t afford for him to go to college on their own,” Ben says. Salomon was a talented pitcher, but because of the stiff level of competition amongst ballplayers in the Dominican Republic, turning pro was a lofty and unreliable goal. As he was considering his options for the future, Salomon learned of the newly-formed ILB program. “The program interested me a lot because in it I could see an opportunity to be able to progress more as a baseball player and also I could advance in school,” he says.

Most young men in the Dominican Republic don’t have the chance to advance in school the way Salomon has. Looking for an easy ticket out of poverty, many drop out of school to chase baseball careers that quickly fizzle due to injury or lack of ability. The care Salomon’s sponsors and other ILB supporters provided allowed him to focus on his athletic goals and, more importantly, his studies. “Back then, I didn’t have to worry about equipment for playing, or about having the time to eat, because we would eat immediately after practice,” Salomon says. “Now I don’t have to worry about materials for university, and I only have to worry about improving and giving my best in order to maintain my good grades and become a professional.”

Along the way, as Ben said, Salomon also developed into a leader. Today, in addition to studying his neuroanatomy and biochemistry lessons at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Salomon directs the university student ministry in his church. “Also, if the Lord permits, I would like to be part of one of the missions from my church,” Salomon says. Ben marvels at the transformation he’s seen in Salomon, who now passionately speaks and teaches others about Christ.

All of these blessings in Salomon’s life—the baseball training, education, and spiritual and leadership development—are what the I Love Baseball program strives to provide for each of the young men enrolled in it. “The opportunity is in all of the guys,” Ben says. “We’re just trying to pull it out of them.”

Get involved with I Love Baseball. Go on a Venture Trip to the Dominican Republic, or sponsor a child, ILB player, or university student today!