Trading Poverty in Two Different Countries for The Major Leagues
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For the lives of many Americans, poverty is a cycle that is nearly impossible to break. People are born into poverty, and then because of their limited financial resources they resort to illegal activities or are never afforded an opportunity from an outside source to lift themselves from the chains of the poverty cycle. Sports however, present a hope for those certain individuals that possess physical attributes that allow for them to excel possibly the only way for them to achieve the American Dream.
Yonder Alonso, first baseman for the Oakland Athletics, knows all too well about trading poverty for one country for poverty in another with the hope for a better life. When he was just 8 his parents defected from Cuba to come to the United States. The article starts off with him telling how scared he was, crying with his mother, father and sister on the plane to Miami. He was scared because he did not know what was going on and where they were headed.
When they landed, they had very little money, no possessions except for the clothes they were wearing and the stickball bat that Yonder was carrying with him. For the next 10 years his parents would work a combined 7 jobs a week in order to provide enough money to pay rent for the little house they would rent in the Cuban-American neighborhood they lived. Yonder when he was old enough, was brought by his dad to train and workout at the baseball facility he trained children at and began to help his parents clean the warehouses at night in order to make extra money. When he had the opportunity his senior year of high school to go pro and get drafted in the 16th round or go to the University of Miami, his parents told him to go get an education. Even with his full scholarship to attend college and play baseball, his family needed help.
After home games he would train kids at Miami’s facilities in order to make money for his family. Upon arrival at campus after away trips, he would then go to the warehouses to help his father clean and then make it to class in time for his 8:00 AM Monday class. He declared for the draft after his third year, and was picked 7th overall by the Cincinnati Reds. After a couple years in the minors playing all over the country, the 23 year old Yonder Alonso was called up to the pro’s where he would finish out the rest of the season. Yonder wrote about the moment in which he walked up from the dugout and saw his family there, dressed well and looking healthy. He talked about how his family told him “Yonder, you made it!”, when he only thought to himself “no Dad, YOU made it”.
Throughout Yonder’s life, he never got experience what many people in this country consider a regular childhood. He never got to go to the movies with his friends or partake in the coming of age activities that many consider with youth in the United States. From a young age Yonder understood the value of family, and that extenuating circumstances call for sacrifice. To Yonder, he never cared that he missed out on those activities or what many people considered a regular life. He didn’t enjoy poverty and the hard work he his family had to go through in order for him to live the life he currently lives, but what he did learn is the intangible value that all high level athletes are hard-wired with.
Sacrifice is necessary in order to achieve a goal. Not just simple sacrifice like cutting calories in order to lose extra pounds, or not going out one night to get in extra reps of your sport. Real sacrifice, like working through the night with your parents in order to help them make enough money to pay the rent for you and your family. Yonder shows that in order to achieve a goal, a lifetime of constant dedication, discipline and sacrifice must be done in order to even have the opportunity to achieve success.
Success isn’t a right. Just because Yonder worked hard and his parents sacrificed everything, he wasn’t guaranteed the right to play in the Major Leagues. Yonder looked at his parents dedication and his dad’s early retirement in Cuban baseball as the motivation he needed to find enough motivation to wake up every day and do the best in whatever he was doing. Athletes are hard-wired with this intangibility for sacrifice. They understand that a championship or elite level competition does not come over night. Years and years or daily sacrifice are the blueprints for what success looks like in any aspect of life, whether it be on the baseball diamond, the football field or in the meeting room of a Fortune 500 company. Daily sacrifice and continued work are the blueprints for success that are naturally hard-wired in athlete’s brains.
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