Dominican Athletes Share their Love for Baseball with Local Children

12/18/14

Standing in the middle of happy chaos, Rob Allan wonders where to begin. Boys had come from every corner of the community and were bubbling over with unrestrained excitement—the I Love Baseball (ILB) team was here to teach them! 

 
Rob had traveled hundreds of miles with a Venture Team to put on this baseball clinic in the Dominican Republic. Now all he has to do is find a way to channel this enthusiasm into something organized. With sudden inspiration he draws several lines into the dirt. “I need ten boys here,” Rob says, pointing to the first line. Soon everyone is in place and ready for their first lesson in baseball mechanics. 
 
The Venture Team and the boys from the I Love Baseball program led baseball clinics in several different communities in the Dominican Republic.
 
Baseball is more than a national pastime here in the Dominican Republic, it’s an obsession. And in this struggling batey—an old Haitian migrant worker camp—a visit from high school players in the ILB program is a special treat. They’re seen as experts in the sport, and they represent hope and possibility.
 
The ILB players worked closely with the boys from the communities, demonstrating the basic movements and shouting out encouragements.
 
Rob assigns an ILB player to each group. They demonstrate the drills and explain the basic movements and roles of pitching, catching, infield, and outfield. The boys can’t wait to start. They practice each movement over and over while the ILB team cheers them on.
 
“Atta boy! Bueno!” 
 
The boys don’t mind these simple practice drills. This is their time to shine and they work hard until every movement was perfect.
 
“It was magical,” Rob says later. “Within three hours I saw a completely unorganized, disarrayed group of village kids transformed into a little organized machine.”
 
                           Sometimes the players had to share the ‘baseball field’ with the local livestock.
 
“They all want to be just like those ILB kids,” says Rob. Most boys in the Dominican Republic dream of playing professional baseball. It’s not uncommon for boys to quit school and practice full-time in the hopes of being drafted into the big leagues. But only one percent make it, and the rest end up back home without an education or plans for the future. 
 
The ILB program is designed to end this destructive cycle. ILB equips players for success—no matter what career they choose—through academic excellence, expert coaching, and Christian guidance. The players are thankful for all the opportunities the program has provided them. This baseball clinic was a fun way for them to ‘give back’ and encourage kids who love the game as much as they do.
 
 
“It was so exciting to see them step up, lead, and love these children,” says Joanna Harmon, a former COTN consultant in the Dominican Republic.
 
“Not only did they teach baseball,” Joanna says, “they also individually valued each one of the children. I saw the kids light up because someone was believing in them.”
 
                                             The ILB team always stops to pray before practice. 
 
“This wasn’t all about baseball,” says Rob. The ILB team is setting an example for every young boy who dreams of going pro. This clinic was a perfect opportunity to show a different side of baseball. “If we can build men of character through baseball, then we’re ahead of the game,” Rob says.
 
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