In the spirit of Thanksgiving it’s worth noting how thankfulness for one’s own gifts can prompt generosity towards those who need some help.
In that spirit, Neumann Baseball visited Aston Valley Baseball League in Neumann’s hometown of Aston, PA last Saturday. Head Coach Dan DiBartolomeo and Assistant Coach Joe Camac, wanting to get involved in the local community, spoke with Bob Weeks from Aston Valley and quickly realized they had both the manpower and the strong community ties to undertake significant cleanup of one of Aston Valley’s little league fields.
“Many of our guys actually played on those fields, so it was pretty cool to give back,” said Coach DiBartolomeo. “It was a lot of work, but the team enjoyed the opportunity.”
Relevant work though it was, the team was surprised at the amount to be accomplished. The field, covered in weeds, needed a complete overhaul and so their time was spent weeding, straightening signs, and completely rebuilding the pitcher’s mound. Their work was in preparation for another service team from the nearby Wilmington Blue Rocks, who had pledged to later come and resurface the field.
With all that needed doing, the team’s original intention to stay between 9:00am and noon last Saturday easily extended an hour and a half past that window.
“At one point we saw the clock and realized we were already there longer than we intended to be,” said senior pitcher and four-year Neumann Baseball veteran Patrick Graham. “We know the drill: Once we start something, we’re going to finish it. It’s important to what we were doing [at Aston Valley], but it’s also important to us as a team. Finishing everything we start matters.”
To the team’s credit, Coach DiBartolomeo indicated that the attitude is natural. “Players could have left,” he noted, “but not one said anything. And if they did, I would’ve said fine, but they didn’t.”
Of course, the nearly five hours spent in manual labor was not for the aesthetic sake of the baseball field alone. DiBartolomeo hoped, too, that the team would gain a valuable perspective as they recalled their own little league days and compared them to the facilities they now call home at Neumann University. That in mind, their work was not only to improve a field but to improve the experience of local children who enjoy playing baseball.
“It comes full circle. Once we were little leaguers and we needed something nice like that. Now that we’re in college and we do have something nice, we give back. Hopefully, we’ll help those little leaguers aspire to the higher levels of baseball,” said Patrick Graham, reflecting on both the cleanup project and his career as a baseball player. “If they know college baseball players are out there on their field, it gives them something to look up to.”
As a final bonus, off-season service offers Neumann’s teams the chance to reconnect with their teammates and their core values. It is a chance to become vulnerable and humble, to put life in perspective, and build bonds that go deeper than game scores or stats. These are what make a team; not wins or losses, but relationships and service to each other in pursuit of something larger than oneself. We’re proud of Neumann Baseball and all Neumann team service projects!
Want to help support Neumann Baseball? Click here to help the team prepare for their annual spring training trip to Florida!