Porter, players talk to disadvantaged youth

Porter, players talk to disadvantaged youth
June 29, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Astros manager Bo Porter and outfielders Justin Maxwell and Brandon Barnes addressed a group of disadvantaged youth on Saturday prior to Saturday’s game against the Angels at Minute Maid Park as part of Porter’s SELF Foundation.

The trio spoke of the virtues of balancing sports with education and commitment to 28 youngsters, ages 7-13 from the SpringSpirit Baseball organization.

“Sports is a career with a timeline,” said Porter. “Education will last forever.”

They had a receptive audience. Especially when the youngsters were told they could watch batting practice, about 20 feet behind the batting cages. Meaning the kids could watch Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Chris Carter, Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez up close and personal.

SELF is an acronym for sports, education, life skills and faith.

“Today is a day at the ballpark for our foundation,” said Porter. “We go into the community and try to find a group of kids from an under privileged area, bring them to the ballpark, give them the experience of getting around the Houston Astros and Major League Baseball.”

One of the topics Porter spoke about was the importance of commitment in sports.

“You learn what commitment is all about,” said Porter. “From a team standpoint, you have to commit your time, you have to commit your effort, you have to commit your energy to doing what’s best for the team.

“Commitment is the ability to carry out the action long after the move in which you made it has passed.”

Maxwell stressed education but told the kids to not spend all their time on electronic devises and get out and play.

“The more that you guys play outside, the better you’re going to feel physically,” said Maxwell. “And the more activity you do with other people, the more it’s going to help you in the classroom because you’re going to be more interactive.

“The most important letter in the acronym is the E – education. My dad always told me baseball is not going to be forever so you’re going to have to have a backup plan.”

When addressing the kids, Barnes said, “Make sure your head is in the books, and make sure you’re doing everything you can do to be the best person you can be. And go out there and have fun.

“Life’s fun, baseball’s fun, school is fun. Sometimes it may not seem like fun but at the end of the day it’s all worth it. I think you’ll all agree 20 years from now.”

SpringSpirit Baseball is a Houston-based non-profit organization working to mobilize community leaders and other organizations to create a unique community facility and programs that benefit Spring Branch youth.

Ana Mendoza from the organization said the players’ talk had a major impact on the kids.

“They’ll impact their lives,” said Mendoza. “Some of them are at-risked kids and have little opportunity to come (to Minute Maid Park). People like (Maxwell, Barnes) talking to them and telling them to dream big, they can make it. (The kids) were like I can be one of them one day. The kids were excited.”

The SELF Foundation was established in 2012 by Porter and his wife Stacey.