(Photo: Buddy Putnam (South Florida) speaks to students at Moreau Elementary School in Glens Falls earlier this month.)
Article from Perfect Game USA
When he is not serving as the President and General Manager of the Glens Falls Golden Eagles, Darin Williams works as a prison guard at the maximum-security Great Meadows Correctional Facility.
Through interacting with these troubled lives on a daily basis, Williams has built a vision to impact the community using the student-athletes on his baseball team.
“I want to reach kids before they make mistakes and become a menace to society,” Williams said. “The way that professional athletes act makes kids believe that if they can do whatever they want if they are good at sports.”
Noticing this problem, the Golden Eagles teamed up with a number of schools in the Glens Falls community. A reading program has been created that rewards students by the number of books they read. The more they read, the more chances there are to win prizes like tickets to the games or memorabilia. One of the team’s sponsors, TD Bank, has pledged that if a student reads 10 books over the summer, they will open a $10 savings account in their name.
Along with the reading program, players are sent into the schools to talk about the importance of academics and staying active. They read to the kids, and often tell stories of great baseball players they knew who are no longer playing the game because of mistakes they made off the field.
“Bringing the players into schools gives the kids good role models,” Williams continued. “They are able to see that in order to become good in athletics, you need to do things the right way.”
“We try to make at least two school trips a week,” Ross Kivett, the Golden Eagles’ second baseman said. “I’m a big proponent of reading. It helps give the kids an imagination and with that you can go anywhere. I try to tell the kids that you need to work your mind as well as your body to stay healthy.”
Along with helping out in the schools, the Golden Eagles look to continue their success on the field in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Since the team’s creation in 2004, Glens Falls has won four regular season titles and made the playoffs six times. Their 31-17 record in 2011 was the best in the league, helping them win the East Division crown in the inaugural season of the PGCBL.
Leading the Golden Eagles in 2012 will be Chase Griffin, a catcher from Georgia Southern University. Griffin was named the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American after a tremendous rookie season in which he hit .320 with 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBIs.
“Chase is a very intense kid,” Head Coach John Mayotte said. “He had an outstanding freshman year, and being named the Freshman of the Year in a major conference is quite the honor. There are parts of his game that need to improve, but there are also parts that are already pretty darn good.”
Along with Griffin, the Golden Eagles offense will have a number of other talented players. Ross Kivett, who has started at Kansas State in both of his first two seasons, has gotten off to a hot start and is currently hitting .404 with two triples and seven stolen bases. However, Coach Mayotte might be the most impressed with Canadian product Emmanuel Forcier.
Hailing from St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Forcier has spent the past year at New Mexico Junior College, working on his baseball skills and adapting to the United States. In his first eight games with the Golden Eagles, he has shined, hitting .462 with a homerun and five RBI.
“He speaks limited English (96.57% of people in St. Hyacinthe speak French only), but he is an outstanding all around player,” Mayotte added. “He is one of those young guys who doesn’t realize how good he could be.”
On the mound, the Golden Eagles will lean heavily on Northwestern right-hander Brandon Magallones. As a freshman this spring, he led the Wildcats with seven victories and 67 strikeouts. He has continued his success in Glens Falls, as he has a 1.00 ERA and has only allowed four hits in his first two starts.
“Brandon is a quality Summer League pitcher,” Mayotte said of Magallones' success on the mound this summer. “He has good velocity and a nice arsenal of pitches. Being from Northwestern, he is a well-rounded kid and he has a good pedigree.
Other standouts on the mound include Georgia Southern’s Jarod Cheek, who is 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in his first six appearances. Kansas State’s Jake Doller has not allowed an earned run in 12.1 innings of work, and Louisburg College’s Tony Urban is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA after throwing 10.2 innings.
Even if this success on the field does not continue, Coach Mayotte will be happy with what his team has been able to achieve in the community.
“The kids have done a great job. Baseball is a special sport in which the players are truly student-athletes. They are excited about getting in the classrooms and they are really good citizens. I can tell it’s legitimate.”
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