Ep. # 014: Rene Balloveras- Athletic Director Leadership Christian Academy, Director Baseball Academy Tournament, Coach, Trainer and Advisor
Join Evan and Rene Balloveras, Athletic Director of Leadership Christian Academy, Director at High School Baseball Academy Tournament of Puerto Rico, Coach, Trainer and Advisor, as Rene shares his baseball journey in New York and Puerto Rico, highlights the Leadership Christian Academy Baseball Program as well as the B.A.T- High School Baseball Academy Tournament and provides insight into youth baseball in Puerto Rico.
What You’ll Learn:
01:22 Rene’s Journey
06:21 Baseball in Puerto Rico
11:18 Good grades as a competitive advantage
18:52 A day in the life of a Leadership Christian Academy Baseball Player
24:01 The college prep process and finding the right fit
35:13 Roberto Clemente’s influence
38:37 Growth Mindset as a key success factor
31:15 B.A.T – High School Baseball Academy Tournament
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Read show notes here.
Facebook Page: B. A. T. – High School Baseball Academy Tournament
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Episode 014_RENE BALLOVERAS_ATHLETIC DIRECTOR_LEADERSHIP CHRISTIAN ACADEMY_HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL ACADEMY TOURNAMENT_BASEBALL COACH_TRAINER_AND_ADVISOR
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Hey guys, welcome to the born to baseball podcast. I'm Evan and today I'm here with Rene Balloveras. Rene first started coaching as a young teenager and has been a physical education and health teacher for 25 years. He is currently the dean and athletic director at leadership Christian Academy in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico and leads instruction for youth baseball coach certification across Puerto Rico. Rene, thank you so much for joining me today.
It's my pleasure. My pleasure. So good to see young people like yourself involved in this type of activity.
Thank you. So can you share your baseball experience as like a youth baseball player? Like, when did you first start playing baseball?
Unknown Speaker 1:22
Okay, I first started playing baseball, and I learned baseball here in Puerto Rico. I was born in New York City. And when I was in the about to go to the fourth grade, I moved to Puerto Rico. And even though I loved playing in school and in the backyard, we had games every day we played punch-ball. We played with the ball off the wall. One day, I went to a local team, where I had this tremendous manager who made me all fall in love with the game. And from there on, I continued to play but when I moved back to New York. About when I was in eighth grade, I went back to New York. I started playing in New York, but also coached a team. So even though I was about 14 years old, I also coached my younger brother's baseball team. So that's how I started coaching. As a matter of fact, my, my brother and myself, we would save all our money that we'd get for school and we ended up buying the uniforms for for our team.
Wow, that's really cool.
So that's how I started coaching. And in fact, there were years where I really enjoyed that more than actually playing. I played in high school in New York at the Richmond High School and then at City College. But coaching to me was my passion. I knew since I was a young person that I wanted to be a coach, and that was due to some of the coaches that I had that inspired me to want to coach.
Yeah that's awesome, could you tell us about some of the coaches that you had like, what was it about them that really inspired you?
Actually my first coach. His name was Ramon Cruz from the Dominican Republic. I had him here in Puerto Rico. Maybe he was not the type of coach that was good for everyone. In fact, when I was small, there were times I didn't really like him. You know, he was old school. And some of the methods he had I used that first, he would yell a lot, he wouldn't tolerate any errors. But one thing I learned from him was one, the love for the game. And the fact that he wanted to play the game the right way. And as I grew older, and I look back, I realized that that's where I got it from, was from him. He wouldn't allow us to accept any little mistake. He wanted us to play the best that we could, in fact, I remained in contact with him till he passed away about two years ago. So he was somebody that was very influential, but again, in the old days, it was a little different. So when I was small, a lot of things that I didn't like about him that of course, we wouldn't do now, but, he did have a lot of good qualities and thanks to him I wanted to become a coach.
That's amazing. Yeah, coaches play huge roles in our lives. And when it comes to baseball, they inspire a lot.
And throughout the years, I had I had many coaches who, who I learned from,
Yeah that's really cool. Did you have like growing up? Did you have like a favorite team? You say, like, favorite team or even favorite player that you could share with us?
Yes, when I was a small I of course, I like the New York team, the Yankees and the Mets being, growing up in New York. And Tom Seaver was probably one of my all time favorite players. But of the Puerto Rican players. I had two players who,,, Oh, and Pete Rose. Of course, I wanted to play always like Pete Rose that was how every kid wanted to play at that time. But two players from Puerto Rico that I really admired, one of them the reason why I wanted to play second base, and I didn't come second baseman was Felix Millan and the other one was Jose Cruz. Those two players. But Felix Millan, I saw him a lot because he played for the Mets. And every week, there'd be a Mets game, a local Mets game in New York, and I and I got to see him. So I really, really looked up to Felix Millan and interesting story when, when I was older, in fact, a few not many years ago, maybe about 12 years ago, doing a camp for the New York Mets. I got to meet Felix Mllian and he was tremendous. I mean, I was not disappointed. And to this day, we remained in contact so and he was really a great, great player, but he's a great person, also.
Yeah, that must have been a really, really cool experience being able to meet one of your idols and one of the people who you really look up to. That's awesome. So you're currently the dean and athletic director at leadership Christian Academy, which has a top notch baseball program. Before we talk a little bit more about that program, I want to talk about baseball in Puerto Rico, thinking about Hiram Bithorn and Carlos Beltran and Roberto Clemente and Pudge and so many others. What do you think baseball really represents to the people of Puerto Rico?
Baseball is a part of life here. I mean, even people that do not necessarily understand the game itself, love baseball and follow baseball. The baseball players are really important to the people here. They they, like I said, it's a way of life. And those baseball players are not just another baseball player. They carry practically the flag on their shirt wherever they go. So people here, always associate them with what Puerto Rico represents. In fact, when you have the World Baseball Classic, I mean people that never watch baseball, fill up the stadiums and and watch Puerto Rico, because of what they represent. Even if they don't understand the game. They know who the baseball players are, and the importance of them representing Puerto Rico.
Yeah, there's a level of pride that goes with the game in all over, but especially in Puerto Rico. That's awesome to hear. So this year has also been really tough for baseball. In general, like the draft was reduced to only five rounds and some minor league teams were cut. And the players in Puerto Rico are still managing through the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and earthquakes and of course now the coronavirus pandemic. How has this impacted your players in Puerto Rico and specifically, just baseball
players in Puerto Rico and everywhere, of course have been impacted, but thinking about the ones in Puerto Rico and in particular our school. A lot of the players, of course, dream of being drafted. They dream of being drafted and then they work hard. And I can tell you they really work hard. You should see how the kids that really want to go far, in terms of baseball work at it. So it has hurt them. It disappoints them. But, for example, the players at our school who we had about four players that we thought were getting drafted and most likely they were, did not get drafted. In fact, no player from Puerto Rico that lives here was drafted because we only had five, ther were only five rounds in the draft So, those players were not taken in when those five rounds most players that were drafted, were college players. Okay. But the good thing about it is that in our school, we really focus on transmitting to them the fact that they have to get good grades and be good students, because they have the opportunity of getting a college scholarship. So we were very fortunate, and the players were fortunate that it was based on their hard work, that they have the opportunity to go to college now. So everything is not lost for them. I know it is disappointing, because you you want to hear your name called you want to be drafted. But in some cases, they might even you know, it might be a blessing in disguise, because those players, they're really good and they'll be better after a few years and in in college, and and they'll get their education. So even though we're disappointed. I'm sure they have a lot of good things ahead of them but it's been tough is really been tough for For baseball in Puerto Rico, this situation,
and like, it just says, just a lot about, like your players and the kids who go to your school, just being able to like, this is going on and then but they know they still have another opportunity. And like you said it could be a blessing in disguise. That's really awesome. Like the way you think about that.
Yeah, something that's really good is that at least our players, and I'm sure a lot of other kids in Puerto Rico are doing it, but at home, they all worked out. You know, they continued to train. They stayed positive. So, so that's, that's good. That's good. But, you know, the bigger picture is that, that it was a terrible situation. Nobody knew that this was this was coming. But um, my message always to the kids is just prepare yourself and try to be the best student possible when you're the best one impossible. If you get drafted. You know, you have options, you have options and it even serves as leverage When, when it comes to negotiating, so it's just good to have that opportunity to go to school.
For sure. Yeah. And like you said, negotiating, like, Can you talk to us more about that, like with the draft if you do get drafted, but then you also have a college scholarship, like what goes on there?
Well, yeah, I'm not an expert in terms of that, because, but what I can tell you is that if you have good grades and you have an option of going to school, a good scholarship. Teams see that and, and they will, they will give you what the maximum may be that they can give you wherever you are selected, versus knowing that you will take whatever it is that they give you. So for example, I've heard of players who are offered very little because they have no option. So it's either you take it or you leave it. But when you have those those options, and a team really wants you They are gonna go after you because they know that if not, you will just go to college. So it's it's just, it's just a, you know, common sense that as a player, getting good grades and having an option is the way to go.
That's for sure.
So, like where do you feel like the coaches and players really strong like work ethic and resilience comes from during these tough times?
Well, obviously it all has to do and as a matter of fact, one of the things that scouts look at with players is something called the makeup that a player has. Okay. And that's very important to a lot of organizations. But most of that has come to to begin with from their homes. You know, if you have parents that that support you, you have parents that are constantly teaching lessons since you're small. That will come in handy for sure. Whenever we have tough times. I mean, and in baseball, you know, in baseball part of the baseball culture is making excuses. So also, if you learn that since you're young, and you have coaches also that teach you that since you're young, it can help you during tough times. Remember, most players will not become pro players or major league players. But there's so many lessons that you can learn in baseball, that will help you in jobs and in life in general.
So yeah, that the players that have that, that are resilient, that are mentally tough, a lot of them it was developed at home. That's that's very important.
Yeah, families, parents and home environment can also just like coaches, they play a huge role.
I can tell you that. I'm sorry. If I can tell you that these players that we have. One thing that they all have in common is support from their, from their family. So that that's the common denominator, and we even have player was a first round pick a few years ago. And with him, it was no surprise how successful he was because not only was he a good student, he was a really good kid. But when you look at his parents and his family life, it was a tremendous family life. So it seems to always come back to that support that you have around, you know, whether teachers, parents, coaches, It all seems to get back to that. Yes,
definitely. So like, like you said, you guys had a first rounder a couple years ago, I believe in 2017. And like your Academy, it has a lot of success when it comes to players being drafted and then also D-1 athletes. So yeah, like that standout who was in that first round is Elliott Ramos. And he was drafted 19th overall by the San Francisco Giants, which is an amazing accomplishment and he was named to the The 2019 All Star futures game, and he's currently doing very well in double A so he's been very successful. So what are some of the things that make your school that Academy so strong and unique?
I feel that we've had success because we're not just a baseball school. We are a regular school with Christian faith based education, right. We have a strong values system there at the school, and we have a baseball program and so we we can be selective in terms of who comes in to our school. We just don't take anybody that plays baseball or any good baseball player. They have to have certain characteristics, right? We, we observe and we do a background check to see what what kind of kid is he, what kind of family Background and of course, yes, he does have some some talent, but we want them to want to have that option of going to college. And we have very good teachers who emphasize that. So once we have those players that come to our school, being that it's a small program, because even though our school has over 700 students, our baseball programming, the high school only has about 60 to 63. Players were able to work with them closely. For example, when we're at a batting session, we only might have seven players hiting, in our case, we have two hitting coaches. Okay, so maybe we might have 10 some classes might have five, so we get to give them a very good, almost individualized instruction. Being that we don't have, a coach does not have 15 kids or 20 kids to work with at a time so that really helps. Plus, we have an excellent staff, we have a staff that knows the game and knows how to teach and cares about kids. So that's very important to us.
And like you said, like the individualized, almost individualized practices where you might only have 5 or 10 kids, it's really good because you get, the coaches get to really develop them and as a player and it's not necessarily just repitition, it's more quality and getting that couple of players better. So, you know, your program definitely sounds like a great one.
I'm really glad you mentioned that about repetition. Because, um, you know, when we teach baseball many times we might make the mistake, and we'll have kids just take reps and take reps and take reps, but there's really no feedback. There's no correction given and that that is key, you know, it's not just taking repetitions. It's taking good repetitions. It's like you said it was the quality, not the quantity and we We try to pay attention to that, we really do. Because a lot of academies here have excellent instructors on almost all the academies have excellent instructors. But the fact that we put that emphasis on that on that amount of instructors per student and the way in which they teach the kids to us, it's very important and I try to stay on top of that, in terms of the teaching methods and strategies used when working with the players. It's not the same working with youth players, and working with professional players. It's very different.
It's awesome. Definitely just what you do, it's part of what makes it such a good program top notch baseball program.
That's really good to hear. So how many hours would you say like a week are your high school players practicing baseball?
I'll give you an idea of what we do at the school. So usually during their elective class. So let's say if they have physical education or, music, whatever electives they have during that period, they will take, they will have a baseball class, and it can be either strength and conditioning or hitting. That's just during school hours. Right? So that's basically their phys ed class. So two days a week, they will go with their hitting instructor during that period that corresponds. And two days a week, they will go with the strength and conditioning coach that's during school hours. Then after school after school, they will have two days a week of defense, right. Two days a week will be let's say infielders, and outfielders and two days a week will be the pitchers and catchers and two days a week, they will have speed work so they will go to a track and work with a speed specialist at a track. So, and they will do that from three in the afternoon til about 5pm you know, the school bus takes them to wherever it is, whether it be the field or the track, and then they will bring them back. But those players, most of them, of course, will also play on a weekend too. So some of those players also practice at night. Now the reason why we only have two days a week of defense two days a week of, of hitting, is because we know that they play on outside teams, and we do not want to overwork them. Okay, so um, that is the reason why we're only doing two days a week, but there's still two days a week of hitting defense and it's really a specialized instruction, that they're getting. And then on Fridays, on Fridays, we don't have baseball programming school, but we have some players might get extra work. They might need or so might work a little extra for something specific that they need to improve with the conditioning coach. That's the way we go about it in the program. But the idea is to really try to take care of the kids and not overwork them.
Yeah, that's really great. Knowing your players, knowing your team knowing that, okay, we don't want to overwork them. They're playing outside, knowing your players is a really big thing in order to have a successful team. You've also coached like basketball and volleyball. And so are there certain like drills that you've pulled from those sports that you now just teach to your players?
Well, there are always exercises that that are common at the lower age levels of baseball. One of the things that happened or can be a common mistake is where you want to teach players how to do advanced baseball drills. or think that they can perform high level skills when in reality at those lower levels you should be developing your fitness, okay your fitness and your motor development, for example, agility, balance, coordination and those have exercises that can be universal to various sports. It all depends on what category the sport belongs to, because of course, you know, there are some sports that are aerobic in nature and some are anaerobic. Okay. And one of the problems is that many times we train wrong for the sport that we're involved in, but of course, the lower levels, you want to work on all components of fitness. Very important because many times for example, you might have a pitcher, who's nine years old, and you hear you might hear the coach saying throw strikes, but the kid cannot throw strikes because he does not have any balance, or his coordination is off. So there are drills that we will use for coordination and balance that of course, we will use in volleyball and we can use in, in basketball, okay, so, so of course, we'll have drills that we can use for different sports. But there are other common denominators for all the sports is where we want to teach discipline, we want to teach dedication, we want to get kids to be committed. And each sport also does have their own culture. And, and we can see, we can see it with the baseball players, of course, that each one has their own, as you say, unwritten rules and sports culture. But um, players that learn that when they're young discipline, commitment, dedication, they can transfer that to any sport.
That's really interesting right there. And so like many of your players have attended D-1 schools which is amazing. So how do you guide your players to balance the academics and baseball?
One of the things at our school we have we have a person who works with the college placement, who does an extraordinary job. She, she makes sure that what based on the player's needs, what she knows about the player based on his grades, she will try to be realistic with the players and try to find something for them where they will most likely be successful. Okay. One of the things is we try we make sure our school not to talk to kids or want them to go to certain places where we know that it's setting them up to fail. For example, if we if we know that a personality of a kid is not to be in a big city, and like something small, we're not going to try to get them into a place where we know that that might affect them, but at the same time At the same time, we let them know that it's not just going wherever they want to go. Sometimes it depends on that school's needs, because we might have a kid that wants to go to a particular college, but that college doesn't mean that position, that college might already have players for that position. And it does not have to do with that player not being good. It's just that that college does not need that. So we try to give them a proper counseling or orientation and the person that does that our school is really, really good at doing that. So that it minimizes the possibility of that student failing once they go to that college that they're interested in or that the school is interested in that player.
Yeah, it's amazing to hear that.
But it's not a it's not an exact science. I mean, there are times it'll happen it'll happen where you have players that go away to a cottage and then come back because something didn't go right They didn't like the place. But with us again, since we're not such a big program in terms of amount of players, we can give them that special attention. In fact, I'll send you a little video when we when we get done in terms of our college players and their placement. We had about 20 players that that our, I think we have 21 seniors. And I think the 20 have a commitment to a college where they will be playing baseball.
Wow. That's amazing. That's amazing.
Um, have your players like really shared whether their experience playing in the states is different than playing in Puerto Rico?
Yeah, we communicate with them. They let us know their stories. Most of the ones we've spoken of, they love the experience. I mean, I've only been at the school for years, but during that time, I've experienced You know, success in terms of what, what they talk about. So, I think I think they enjoy we try at the school. And I know sometimes players might think that we want to be hard on them. But we want to try to give them an experience in such a way that when they go away to school, it's not a shock to them. That's why our high school teachers are demanding even though they are very understanding, the teachers at our school go out of their way to help the kids but the kids also have to go out of their way to get whatever work they have to make up if they weren't went out for a tournament. So because it's hard, some of these kids, they get home 10 o'clock at night after their other practices, and they still have to do their work. You know, we just don't give them the grades. They have to work for it. But we wouldn't be doing them any favors, if we are not demanding with the school workl. So that's something that our teachers do a real good job. As of now, we've had players enjoy their college experience.
That's great to hear. So MLB players service amazing role models and models for us youth and Players all over to learn from. So who are some players that you encourage your players to like watch and study?
Well, to tell you the truth I, I never really promote any particular players because they all have their own particular style. Of course, I do mention to them when when players that I am aware of that have strong work ethics, players that seem to be mentally tough, that behave themselves, you know, in a way a professional should, but I always leave it up to the kids to enjoy whatever player it is they like watching. What I just do is we just talk about with qualities that different players might have. So because also we don't want kids imitating a particular style. Because styles and fundamentals are different. And with youth players, not every style is suitable for them. But I can tell you, for example, a player who I admired his career, of course, was somebody like Derek Jeter and I admired the career of Cal Ripken players who've always had a positive image. But in terms of telling the kids who watch you to follow, we don't really specify Of course, there's players here in Puerto Rico, like Lindor and Correa that kids really look up to. And those are excellent players. And we we do use them as examples in terms of their their fundamentals. They are two fundamentally sound players, we just don't tell them to have their style because that's individual and if a kid wants to use their style, but in terms of quality of players Those two players are excellent players. But, but yeah, we leave it up to each kid to you know, like whatever player he he likes.
Yeah, Lindor and Correa are two very, very good players. They're two all star players. And I like how you said like, styles. It's not the fundamentals, each player has their own unique style that works for them. That's really, that's really great to hear. So building a strong mindset, like you said, and being really mentally tough, is really important. So what are some ways that you develop mentally tough players at your Academy?
Well, one of the thing is we, we try to, I shouldn't say, emphasize the fact that we don't want to make excuses that that's that's one thing. Of course, we know there are reasons why things happen. For example, we're on the field, and you drop a ball, which anybody can drop a ball, but you drop a ball because the sun was in your eyes. We know that's the reason. But we we don't want to players all the time say no, I dropped it because the sun was in my eyes or, or we lost the game because the umpire is not good. No, you know, we know things happen. And there are reasons for things, but we want players to focus on the bottom line. Either they caught the ball, or they didn't. Either they did their homework, or they didn't do the homework. So one of the ways is trying to not give excuses. Another way is dealing with whatever situation comes your way. One of the things that I tried to tell players that I've coached for years as we get to the field and it's really hot in my mindset, is Oh good, because it might be too hot for the other team. Or if the if we have to play and it seems like the grass is a little moist, and the ball might seem slippery, we say good, because we can deal with it, maybe the other team can't. So it's just a thing of getting into the players heads, and then believing that no matter what the situation is, they can do it. And of course, you know, with young kids in a small age group 7,8,9 10 until 12 you know, there, they're small and we've taken into consideration, right, you know, their age and their level, but at their level, there are certain things that we can teach them that they will always will always help them in terms of their their mindset, of course, always taking into consideration their level.
Yeah, that's that's a big key to success when it comes to coaching. Knowing like I said earlier, knowing your players and knowing the level that you're at knowing what they're ready for, and I like how you really said You don't let them make excuses. Because excuses ultimately, at the end of the day, they can lead to failure because you're not, you have to hold yourself accountable for the things that you do. That's a cool way to look at it.
Hey, that's awesome that you said you said accountable. I that's that's to me is an important word. And of course, I don't want to sound like we don't care when when kids make an excuse. I mean, you know, we do we do care because there are reasons why things happen. We just don't want kids getting into the habit of for anything negative that happens,There's an excuse. So I just want to make that clear. Because we understand that sometimes things will happen and we never, we never and I recommend this to any youth coach. Never bring down a kid or make them feel bad just because he makes an error. errors are part of the game. Errors are part of the game and I knowa kid who makes an error on purpose. And I know I was a coach when I first started, who used to get upset when kids make an error but, but as you mature and as you grow older, and then you look back and you say, wait a minute, I didn't like it when a coach we get on for making an error. So we as coaches, we never we never get on kids for making an error. And I think showing them that support, okay, will make them tougher, and have a better mindset. If we don't get on them from again, why? Because they will be more confident they'll know that you have their back. So sometimes coaches might believe that it'll make them tougher getting on them for errors, but it's the opposite. It's the opposite if we show them that we believe in them, and we encourage them to want that next ball hit to them that will make them suffer so it's just the opposite.
Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense. I heard a really powerful quote from Roberto Clemente. And it's "anytime you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, you're wasting your time on Earth".
That's one of my favorite quotes.
That's awesome. Like, how does that Roberto Clemente spirit, sort of just travel and stay alive in the island of Puerto Rico?
Well, he's obviously been an inspiration to players here and the entire Latin America. He is a player who did so much on and off the field, that it'd be very hard not to have him in mind anytime we stepp onto the baseball field. So he's somebody very special here and in and Latin America. So um, so yeah, he's, he's a, he's a role model in terms of how players should act on and off the field.
That's awesome to hear. Why do you like it so much? Why is it so powerful to
Because, you know, we, and one of the things I speak about when I speak to coaches, for example, one of the things that we talk to them about is that when we coach baseball, for example, and we coach kids, we're not just speaking terms of baseball, we're not just a coach, who, who might be an instructor who knows about, let's say, fielding or hitting, to those kids they might see us as a mentor, they'll see us as a teacher, they might see us as a as a model, as a guide, as somebody who inspires them. So we have a big responsibility. And, in this case, if we just go through life just, you know, minding our business. Um, you know, just thinking of what Roberto Clemente said, then we might be wasting our time. If we have the opportunity to impact another life or do something Positive for society, then I think our life has had some, has meant something great. You know. So that's that's why I like that quote. It obviously comes from somebody who definitely has a great heart because he's thinking of how he can impact somebody else.
Definitely. Yeah, he was a great guy and he wanted to impact almost everyone he met really, it's unfortunate the way he passed away. But, you know, he passed away, wanting to do something for other people and really trying to help people out.
In fact, you know, that that there's an award Major League award, and I've heard of players who have won that award and that to them, means even more than some other awards like a batting championship, and other types of awards, but that Roberto Clemente award means so much because it means that they've they've impacted lives. So that's that's a that's a great award.
Yeah, it must be really special to win that award, knowing that you to the people of the world, you resemble some essence of him.
For sure, no doubt about it.
And so you've been involved in a lot of camps outside of Puerto Rico like in the States and in the Dr. What are some of like the key skills and qualities that you see in the most successful players that you work with?
All players, it's important that they have a drive to be better in terms of their mentality, a mindset to grow to be a much better player. In fact, many professional organizations want players that have what they call the growth mindset for example. But in terms of physicals skills and some of the physical skills, you know, scouts look for particular tools, which is the strength of your arm, your speed, your power, your fielding, okay, you know, there's five tools. But of course, it's much more than just that. There are a lot of players that are talented, but if they don't have that drive, if they don't have that mindset to want to get better. Okay, it's very difficult, but I see players here. I've seen them in Dominican Republic, and Texas, New York. And something common with those players who get far up in the baseball ranks are those players that have that drive, that dedication, that commitment, and that discipline to get better, if they don't have that. Very difficult. Of course, there's someplace that are just so talented. But if they don't have those other qualities like discipline or that drive to be better at one point or another, it'll catch up to them. it'll catch up. So that's what I can tell you regarding that
Thank you for that. That's really great insight there. So you also invest a lot of time instructing youth baseball coaches in Puerto Rico, who are required to complete a baseball certification course. Could you tell us more about that, and that experience,
Yeah that course for youth coaches, I've been doing that for approximately 11 years. There's a law here in Puerto Rico, where all youth coaches must be certified to work with kids, because one of the things that includes is that when you take the course, right, which I give them a course, that involves, you know, just teaching them how to work with kids how to, and how to teach them the skills, once you take that you go through a background check. And with that background check, just so you know, it's just to verify the type of person who's going to be working with with with this Kids, right? If you once you take the course and you've come to a successful background check, then you're eligible to get that license. And that license, the great thing about having it is that if a parent takes a kid to a particular team, and that coach has that license knows that that coach went through a check, okay. And at least a parent knows that that coach might not be somebody who's harmed kids in the past, for example, and that parent knows that at least some basic about teaching kids, he must know, or he should know. So that's the reason why we want youth coaches to be certified. Because, of course, most people mean well, most people try to help kids most people teach the kids well, but there are also a lot of coaches who don't, and not because necessarily they want to be bad, or they don't want to do things the correct way, but because maybe they don't know. So we want to minimize the risks. And keep safe all the kids in Puerto Rico and we want them to love the game and not leave the sport because of something that a coach did or didn't do the right way.
Yeah that's a great mission of that Alliance.
That's a government program that has that. So it's a law. That has to be well. What you mentioned there with the Alliance, that is something was, that's an association, an alliance that we created when we got together a bunch of different coaches, and what we try to do is promote the game the right way. And we share insights. We share strategies to try. We haven't been really in action, so to speak officially, like official events in the past few couple of years. We've just been doing it more like in a private way where we speak on the phone and we get ideas out and we share strategies with coaches and try to help them as much as we can. And, and, and they can call us and we'll give them tips and ideas, basically, but this year we're planning to do, again, more activities as a group.
So do you have any projects that you're working on right now that you'd like to share and like, where's the best place that our listeners can reach you?
You know, one project that I've been working on, and it's not just me by myself, it's been a group of coaches, where we've put together and it's unfortunate This was our second season. We put together a league that involves the different baseball academies here in Puerto Rico. And, and we were really and we still are, of course, very excited about that project. Last year was our second season. The previous school year was our first season and what we did was you see here in Puerto Rico this, there wasn't a real school baseball league. All right. So we what we did is we got together with Different academies that have top players in Puerto Rico. And we made a schedule, and we formed the league. And that league was really good because not only out of the there were about 23 players drafted that year, about 18 or 19, played in that league. So all the top players in Puerto Rico belonged to one of those schools. And by the way, six were were at our school, And then there, you have good coaches, the coaches are all good, you know professional guys. And the game is played really fast. And there's a level of respect and we played in really great stadiums every single game. So we are really excited about the league. This past school year, was our second season and was going really well until the situation with the pandemic occurred. But that project is, I really love it because just to give you an example that we would play during the Week, and at a particular site, we'd have three games in a day, right. So this way the scouts didn't have to decide what field they would go to. So, because we only, each team played once a week, and there was a game, there was a one day in particular that a lot of your prospects will claim that we had over 80 scouts there because we had the Puerto Rico scouts, you know, the scouts that work for major league teams, but that are local, their bosses and some of those bosses bosses come. That would come to Puerto Rico, so that they was incredible, it was packed, but every week we'd have you know, 10, 12, 15 scouts at our our games, but that day in particular was just incredible. We had even an assistant GM come last year to see one of the players here in Puerto Rico. So, so we're really excited about that league because the it's the highest High School league here because any other league or conference where high school play doesn't have, let's say 18 players drafted. And even in the United States, you might have a league where high schools play, but they play in different conferences not necessarily all together. But here we had the best schools were in the same conference or league playing against each other so that that's what made it special
Yeah, that sounds really special. And the level of competition is awesome too.
That was one of the goals behind it. We wanted the kids play really good competition. Sometimes on the weekends. You might have a team that's really, really has a lot of good players. But then the team they play against doesn't. So we wanted with this league. They, every game You're facing good players, the good batters, the good batters are facing good pitchers. The good pitchers are always facing good batters. So that's what we wanted. It's a really high high Level High School league.
Yes. And that league that you and some other coaches created are definitely super valuable to those players and even the high schools and the academies.
If you get a chance you can check it out. Um, of course this year, we only played three games. But it's called BAT. You know, it stands for Baseball Academy Tournament. We have a Facebook page. And a lot of our games this year or last season, they were on Facebook Live so everybody can see the games. And that final game was, the year before was really tremendous. It ended, the championship game ended with a walk off Homer. Yes, yes. Yeah, as a matter of fact, our school won the championship but it could have been the other school. It was against the Carlos Beltran Academy. And it could have been them just as well because that's how close it was. It just so happened that our player hit a 3-2 homerun with two men on base, and it was a walk off. So, but we have a pages and it's called Baseball Academy tournament.
That's awesome how you and the other coaches came together to create a league
You see, the key is the key is and I just want to emphasize this, many times the coaches see each other, you know, in general in youth sports as competition. But in reality, what we want to and what we try to promote here is that we're all a team, we all love the game. And and we want every coach to share whatever knowledge he has with the players. And if we work together, we can get much more done. And that's one good thing here that we want to do in Puerto Rico. We we care for all the players here, not only if they're from my school, I want other kids in Puerto Rico to get drafted. So because to us, it's players from Puerto Rico. So that's that's really about And that's why we're really excited about that league and, you know, anybody needs to contact me. You asked me before about a contact. It could be via my Telephone is 787-566-1514 or Reneballoveras@gmail.com. Right. But you have you have that information. But um, yeah, I really appreciate this. This is awesome the way you do these interviews. There's many, I've seen many TV shows where we don't have somebody who's doing the interview that's as knowledgeable as you.
Thank you so much. Yeah. I really appreciate that. And I'll definitely check out your league when I get a chance and our listeners can definitely check it out to you said it's Facebook page is BAT right?
Yeah, or if it doesn't come out like that put Baseball Academy tournament.
Okay, you know, that's great to know.
Well, thank you so much for coming on today, Rene. I really appreciate it.
Yeah, this was an honor. And again, I'm really impressed with your level of preparation. That's what I, Another thing I recommend to all youth coaches, be prepared. Be prepared. Whenever you're prepared. You'll feel confident and if you're confident, you're most likely to have success, so um and that's why I guess your program, your podcast is so successful, because you're definitely prepared. So thank you.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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