By Carol Kiliany
IT Project Manager, CSU Chancellor’s Office
CSU Fullerton Alumna
My son, David, is getting a major boost toward college from current and former Cal State Long Beach student athletes who serve as coaches for youth learning the fundamentals of baseball. His love of the sport provides a gateway to developing connections and skills that will help him succeed in life.
Out on the field with David and others participating in the university’s Dirtbag Camp, the student athletes (coaches) often engage as peers. Yet, they are more than peers in critical ways. They are an example of what a young adult should be – someone who sets goals and seeks accomplishments on and off the field. They teach patience, discipline and teamwork in ways that few classroom exercises ever could.
The student athletes have the distinct advantage of not being “parent” or “teacher” in the eyes of the kids. No, these young men are something else – they are role models.
This leads me to think about issues like the gender gap in colleges today. Women outnumber men on most college campuses. The ratio typically described is 60 percent women to 40 percent men. That is roughly the CSU demographic. The baseball summer camp welcomes girls and boys, and girls do participate. However, the majority of campers are boys. All of the children, including my son, are getting a subtle college-going message along with a healthy dose of baseball skills. This is a college connection that can be fostered over the next decade.
CSULB Director of Baseball Operations and Dirtbag Camp Director David Yamane does a terrific job of making sure that connection is not lost. He and the student athletes acknowledge camp participants during games held throughout the baseball season. They bring the camp participants out onto the field, sign autographs and greet them by name. My son lights up every time he is included in this baseball family.
My days as a childhood development major at Cal State Fullerton taught me to appreciate the different ways children learn – and how important it is to focus on those soft skills that cross over to aid in a person’s success in many aspects of life. The Dirtbag Camp is full of soft-skill development. Where many people see a baseball training camp, I see a college- and life-training camp. I am so grateful this opportunity is available to my son.