Taking a break from his off-season throwing program, Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia spent Tuesday morning fielding questions from students at Dwight Morrow High School and the Academies@Englewood.
Sabathia told students there were times he never thought he would make it as a professional baseball player, but family and friends gave him the support he needed to succeed.
He also credits Abe Hobbs, his former coach at Vallejo High School in Vallejo, Ca., and encouraged students to find their own positive role models in life.
“He was very important to me,” Sabathia said. “I think it’s very important to have that person in your life.”
Sabathia spoke during two assemblies along his wife Amber, who runs their non-profit, the PitCCh In Foundation, which aims to raise the self-esteem of at-risk youth. During the hour-long programs, the couple encouraged students to stay in school, find friends that really care about them and to set big goals.
“We feel that there was one person who made a positive influence in our lives and we hope to be that positive influence for you here today,” Amber Sabathia said.
The event was sponsored by The Zone, a grant-funded program run by Bergen Family Center, which offers counseling, tutoring and other preventative programs for students at the high schools.
California broadcast journalist Kraig Debro, who spent part of the program asking Sabathia questions before opening it to the floor, told students The Zone could serve as a sort of role model for them.
Academies@Englewood senior Thalia Duque, an intern at PitCCh In who hopes to study sports marketing, took the stage with the Sabathias and spoke about the role The Zone has played in her life.
“You can get so much support and a big push from the people there,” the senior said. “They really believe in you.”
Amber Sabathia told students they should not let others make life decisions for them.
“Remember that you are in charge of your story and be able to write yours to the best of your ability,” she said.
Students asked Sabathia about the challenges of being an African-American baseball player and what his goals outside of sports are.
He said it’s hard not having many other players to relate to, but being on a team means learning to get along with everyone. He also said that if he wasn’t pitching, he would likely be teaching at his old high school and coaching there.
While the Sabathia said it’s great having a major league contract, he said he plays because he loves the game.
“I would play this game for free just to have the opportunity to do it,” he said.