A bright light in the Phillies dim season has been Brock Stassi, who looks to pass on a very special message to his young fans
I have been writing for That Ball’s Outta Here for just over a year. It has been a dream come true to have the daily opportunity to write about a team I love. Giving fans information about the opposition, the organization’s prospects, and additional stories that pop up along the way has truly been enjoyable. However, no article I have written is as important as the one you are about to read.
At the beginning of this article, you may wonder how the Phillies fit in, but give it time. I will get there. I promise.
As a sports fan, I have grown up with many heroes. Some of them played in my beloved city of Philadelphia, while some played in other parts of the country. All of those athletes were heroes because of what they did on their respective fields of play, and not necessarily for what they did off it.
Now that I am older and understand what defines hero, eight year old me would be given the advice to find a different group of heroes.
You see, I write as a hobby. My actual job is teaching, more specifically, teaching second grade. The second grade year is very important for students. With today’s academic demands, I have found it important to use this pivotal year to focus on developing student confidence.
As a result, my teammates and I honed in on the study of Growth Mindset. Simply put, the research shows no one is born knowing or acquiring knowledge. Our brains are able to develop and learn anything with a positive, growth mindset. We have worked with students on using phrases such as “This is hard, but I can figure it out” rather than “This is too hard for me to do.”
Now, this where Brock Stassi and the Phillies come into play.
After seven months of working with students on this idea, I saw the video of Stassi right after he found out he made the team. I immediately realized how this could be a learning tool for my students. Hearing the emotional first baseman talk about his journey to the majors was the epitome of what we were talking about.
Never giving up, not letting others make you feel inferior, and working until you achieve your own greatness.
I showed the students the video and they immediately recognized growth mindset in Stassi. The simple lesson turned into an obsession with the 27-year-old. I keep track of the Phillies on my white board as another piece to math and for the first time in my eight-year career, the students requested a special corner of the board be dedicated to “Brock” (yes, they use his first name only).
When I saw their love for him, I decided to take it a step further and wrote him a letter. I explained the whole situation and within a few weeks was contacted by the Phillies. What started as a simple request for acknowledgement for the students has gone way beyond expectations.
On Friday, May 5th, Stassi and Phillies Director of Public Affairs Scott Palmer skyped with our students. The Phillies sent 60 rally towels to our kids and the excitement was indescribable. Stassi spent nearly a half-hour answering questions, written by our students, about his journey. His answers were well thought-out and humble, while his interactions with the kids showed an attempt to make individual personal connections.
Our class walked away from the session in awe. However, Brock would come through again. A week later, the Phillies sent us a package with 60 signed Stassi baseball cards.
A few days after that, he and the Phils invited the students to the stadium as his personal guests. A small group of students and staff are heading to Citizen’s Bank Park to meet him. At 11:30, the guy who has turned struggles from “I can’t do this” into “What would Brock do” will meet just a few of his biggest fans.
I am unsure I can ever thank Brock and the Phillies enough for what they have done for these students.
In a season that has not gone the way most of us hoped, I thought it would benefit us all to read something great one of our players is doing. Brock’s story has connected to all of us in some way.
I just thought it was important that people knew this end of his story; The part of his story that is really the beginning of a story for these students. Brock may not be a player that is known by fans around baseball, but he should be. His actions are what we should expect of all athletes.
It should be the standard and not the unexpected.
Actions like this should not go unnoticed. And there are 53 kids in a small town in Pennsylvania who will never forget what Brock Stassi did for them when they were in second grade.
They now have their hero…for the right reasons.