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Dominican Baseball Academies Train Both Muscles & Brain

Dominican Baseball Academies Train Both Muscles & Brain

Posted by Julissa Montilla on August 13, 2015

Big muscles and little academic development was the combination applied to Dominican baseball players that, since the signing age is 16 or so, used to quit their studies in order to devote all their time and energy to the physical training in the field.

This reality has begun to change as some academies are now aware of the importance of giving their players a comprehensive education.

Due to the high competitive level in this sport, only five out of one hundred young players hired by a team can play in the Major League Baseball, so the dreams of a significant number of these boys are cut short and, without the proper education, they could have problems in the academic sphere.

But even if they succeed in the sport, the educational level gives added value to those baseball players that could cope with difficulties if they go to the United States without the right education in terms of culture or language, among other areas of knowledge.

New York Mets’ was one of the first academies to do something about it, as in 2006 they launched a comprehensive study program.

“This is a new generation of baseball players, who no longer spend so many hours training in the field, but studying in classrooms, so they grow as both baseball players and human beings” Juan Henderson, manager of Mets in DR, points out.

The physical training of his boys kicks off at 7 a.m. and by 3 p.m. they are all studying in classrooms. An alliance has been agreed with CENAPEC, an educational institution backed up by the Dominican Ministry of Education that has detected in baseball player a trend to quit studies. This institution presently has agreements with five academies, which are sent up to 8 specific professors.

Its executive director, Ramon Sosa, underscores that the impact of education on baseball players is very important due to their influence on other young people. “These boys are shown on TV, their words reach out to hundreds of thousand people and the multiplying effect is incredible if they speak correctly. That’s the message we’re sending on the Dominican education, on our people”, he highlighted.

Juan Henderson, manager of Mets in DR.

Arizona Diamondbacks is another team that takes education seriously. They are presently the only ones that include the online platform provided by CENAPEC in their study program, thus allowing their baseball players to keep on studying in case there are transferred to another country before finishing high school.

“The great social changes around the world are based on education. You have a well-focused player, with higher knowledge level and polished image” Marcos Rosa, manager of the Arizona academy, say and highlights that the main goal of the US-based head office and the owner of the team is having players with full-package development. “It’s not only about developing an athlete, but a professional”. In late January 2015, the Philadelphia Phillies Academy graduated 7 players during an emotional ceremony.

The Protagonists

The beneficiaries of this academy-level revolution are astonished. Their parents were worried about their children quitting studies. So they were extremely surprised as they knew that their boys can continue studying.

“When I signed in I dropped out of school in the 1st year. When I came here they sent me to study and my mother was very happy. I felt great because I would have both plan A and B. If I cannot reach my goal, I can have another profession” Jose Martinez is in his 4th year in high school.

“After the graduation I feel like I’m more prepared for life because it’s not only about baseball. We’re baseball players, but we are human beings too” Jean Carlos Rodriguez graduated in 2012.

The 30 academies based in the Dominican Republic have educational programs.

MLB Causes a Stir

Formal education is not mandatory in terms of Major League Baseball and its academies, just as the study of English language is, but since 2011 the Santo Domingo-based MLB office is causing stir in the industry for academies to take its importance into account, they told PanamericanWorld.  They already have a Community Education Division that is in charge of generating programs with different educational solutions for all clubs, based on their needs.  

The 30 academies based in the Dominican Republic have educational programs, although each of them picks up the one they prefer according to their needs and budget. Five of them (Phillies, Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Arizona DBacks) feature a formal program with all the subjects that are taught in Dominican schools, and the other 25 develop a program based on skills for life, such as etiquette and protocol, personal finances, Dominican and American history, among others.

Results

By means of the formal education program carried out with CENAPEC, nearly 500 young players have gotten their degree. NY Mets have already held seven graduation ceremonies for a total of 70 people, some of which are playing in MLB: Henry Mejia, Jeuri Familia, Juan Lagares and Rafael Montero.

Financial Education

Depending on the potential of a player, he can be given up to four million dollars upon signing in and that’s way too much money for a teenager. This is the opinion of some people that have witnessed how they lose control as they go from shortage to abundance. That’s the reason why MLB, by means of its official bank in the DR, delivers talks on financial awareness in an effort to give them guidance on the use of their resources, as well as psychological consultancy.

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