Hounds with Purpose is a space for alumni to share their stories of purpose and vocational engagement beyond their years at Assumption. This blog is created by the Center for Purpose and Vocation and the Career Development and Internship Center (CDIC) to better connect students and alumni through experiential storytelling.
“What Do You See? How Baseball Taught Me to Live a Meaningful Life”
By: Alex Richardson ’19
What do you see when you look at a ball, bat, and glove? Growing up I thought of these items as just material goods that you would get right before the season started. Now, my opinion has changed. These items can allow you to travel, pursue an education, and save lives.
Growing up in the Caribbean Islands, my father was born with baseball in his blood. It is only fitting that he passed it down to me. At a young age, I only viewed baseball as the sport I played whenever I got the chance. It was not until high school, that I truly realized the type of impact that this sport could have in my life. My sophomore year in high school, I traveled to the Dominican Republic with the Boston Red Sox’s Lindos Sueños [Sweet Dreams] program. Early in the morning, we built houses in the village of El Mamón, one of the poorest villages in the island. While we took breaks from the hot beating sun, we had to figure a way to cool off, and what other way to cool off than playing some baseball. We were frantically searching for how we could accomplish this since we did not have any of our equipment. When glancing around the village, we made eye contact with some of the local kids playing baseball using a broom stick and bottle caps and the rest is history. Every single day we played alongside the children from the village and in that moment, I realized why some of the best players in the world come from the Dominican Republic. Throughout the week, we noticed that all these children were running around playing barefoot and had ripped clothes, but they never lost their zest for life. At the end of the trip, all my teammates and I came back with empty suitcases but with hearts full of compassion and appreciation. Baseball along with other sports have been a staple for individuals finding a sense of community and friendship. Despite the hardships one undergoes in life, baseball can help a person endure the present and dream of a better future for themselves and others.
Soon after my trip to the Dominican, I started the college search process. To me, college was a giant question mark. For most of my time in high school, I was at a loss for college until my summer baseball team, The Base, helped guide me on my path. They provided me with free SAT preparatory classes and tutoring sessions. This organization collaborates with various colleges and institutions across the country to give away academic scholarships. I took advantage of those partnerships and applied to Assumption where I was accepted and played baseball all four years. Throughout my college experience I was able to learn so many valuable skillsets that prepared me for my career but three stood out the most, relationships, hard work, and empathy. The partnership between The Base and Assumption University has literally turned urban youth’s dreams into reality, including my own.
My experiences in the Dominican and with The Base have showed me that not only can baseball change lives, but it can also save them. During the summer of 2015, my Base summer league team had a game under the lights at English High School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Prior to the game, Angel, our catcher, called to inform us that he was at his cousin home and was unable to make it to the game. Later that night, I woke up to phone calls and text messages from my teammates breaking the news that Angel was murdered. His cousin was in a gang and, unfortunately, he had enemies. Angel was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and to this day, this memory keeps me up at night. The reason I share this story is that I want you to think; and imagine how many lives have been saved because of this sport.
The other day I was watching the OWN Network which is the Oprah Winfrey Network. Every year she invites some of the world’s most powerful motivational speakers to her “Supersoul Sessions”. In this session, she invited a man by the name of Wes Moore. During his session, he spoke to the crowd and talked about the difference between your job and your work. Your job is the thing you do to make money and pay the bills. Your work is the thing that you are most passionate about. The thing that makes your heart beat a little faster. In certain career paths, you can separate the two through doing your 9-5 job while volunteering in something that you are passionate about. For me, I can combine both through working with the Worcester Red Sox. Every single day I wake up and use the resources of a baseball team to help improve the community. Whether that is hosting fundraisers for non-profits at Polar Park or creating thoughtful and impactful programs through our WooSox Foundation. I have seen first-hand the immense power that baseball and ballparks must transform and elevate communities.
Baseball can allow you to travel around the world, pursue a higher education, and save lives. If the alarm clock goes off in the morning and you are not happy about it, then you are not doing what you want to. Once you live in your purpose, when you discover your gift, you cannot wait to wake up. Every single morning baseball is on my mind. Not the sport itself, but the impact that it can have in improving lives. So, the next time you look at a ball, bat, or glove, ask yourself; what do I really see?
By: Alex Richardson
Edited by: Sydney Huckabee