PORTLAND, Maine — Throughout the course of the season each team will offer baseball camps to the local youth. Some are week long and some are short 2-hour clinics but all of them offer an opportunity to influence those in attendance.
This year, I have been a part of three clinics (two in Portland, another in Pawtucket) where I had the opportunity to give instruction to the local ball players. Some players have only been coached so being in a position of coaching others can be very challenging for them. Others are very comfortable giving instruction and connecting with the kids who attend the camps.
These camps become a great opportunity for both the campers and the instructors to grow on and off the field. I can still remember my freshman year psychology class when we discussed how someone learns. My instructor always enjoyed sharing the different ways we learn and how effective they are. She always encouraged us to, "Teach it to each other! If you can teach it then you truly know it!"
During each of these camps everyone walks away having learned and grown. Whether it is finding a new way to teach a child to throw a pitch, or helping them build confidence in themselves to learn a new skill.
Each time I get to work with these kids I realize how much their personalities and demeanors range. From the excited child who doesn't know what the word "shy" means, to the child who lingers in the back and skips their turn in line because they are intimidated by the situation.
Working these camps and giving private lessons has given me great perspective on how challenging it is to be a teacher or coach. You are not just teach math or how to field a groundball, you are helping those children build character, confidence and a sense of self-identity.
I have also learned that we are all teachers and coaches, even if we don't carry that name. Children are incredibly observant and most of them see the subtle things we do each day. When we hold the door for a parent pushing a stroller or help someone pick up something they dropped, we are teaching children that other people matter and being considerate of them is important.
At the end of each camp I always remind the children of two things. First is to work hard at everything they do. Whether you practicing baseball, cleaning your room or doing homework... never let yourself settle for anything less than your best. Second, thank whoever brought you to the camp and tell your family that you love them.
Over my career in baseball I have realized these are the two things that truly matter. Hard work and love in your heart will take you much farther in life than a new curveball grip or changing your batting stance.
"It take a village to raise a child" is a proverb that holds true now more than ever. Whether we want to or not, each of us has great influence on our own children, our neighbor's children and on one another. The influence of our actions has a ripple that extends much farther than we may see.
So take an extra moment each day to mentor a child, stop for the man in the crosswalk and hold the door for that mother pushing a stroller. You will bring joy to their life and yours.
Michael McCarthy is a former Cal State Bakersfield pitcher who now plays for the Boston Red Sox' Class-AA team in Portland, Maine. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mmccarthy35