Seton Senior Teaches Baseball to Haitian Children

| February 4, 2014
Seton Catholic senior Connor McCormack, second row, second from left, taught children in Haiti the game of baseball  during a mission  trip last summer.

Seton Catholic senior Connor McCormack, second row, second from left, taught children in Haiti the game of baseball during a mission trip last summer.

BY CLAUDIA MATHIS

It started with a dream and ended as a life-altering experience for Connor McCormack, a senior at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton. Last January, McCormack, a compassionate young man, felt the need to help impoverished children in Haiti. As a baseball enthusiast who has played from the time he was 5 years old, McCormack decided that he wanted to teach the sport to the Haitian children.

“The idea grew on me,” remembered McCormack.

McCormack approached his theology teacher, Sister Brigid O’Mahoney, MHJ, with his plan to set up a baseball camp so that he could teach the sport to the Haitian children. She told him that his idea would indeed be feasible during a mission trip planned for the summer. Each year, Seton faculty members Sister Brigid and Sister Lorraine Mangini, MHJ, coordinate a mission trip for Seton students. McCormack set about gathering volunteers and developing a plan to collect baseball equipment for the mission. Two of his friends agreed to help out. The project quickly took off after they began to receive donations of equipment and money from parishes, family and friends in the Binghamton and Syracuse areas. “We thought we would get maybe 10 gloves but ended up getting 56 instead,” said McCormack.

On June 29, 2013, McCormack, along with more students and some other volunteers, travelled to Haiti with the donated baseball bats, gloves, hats and t-shirts. After the word got out that someone from the U.S. would be teaching baseball to them, 70 to 80 children showed up. McCormack said the children were extremely excited. “It was awesome,” he recalled. “I didn’t realize how big it would get.”

The volunteers split the children into four teams, each sporting a different colored t-shirt and hat. McCormack said he found that teaching the children proved to be a very rewarding experience. “It was a great feeling to see them falling in love with the sport,” he said. “I liked introducing them to something new. They didn’t want to stop playing, and for a while, they weren’t worried about anything.”

McCormack and his fellow instructors taught the basics of baseball every morning for the next four days. The high schooler had previously wanted to hold two training sessions each day but revised his plans after realizing that the intense heat of the afternoons would make it difficult.

Before the children headed out to play baseball, they were given instruction on whiteboards. Because the language barrier was tough, four translators were employed to help teach the children.

When the volunteers returned to the U.S., they left the baseball equipment behind, along with instructions so that the four translators could continue teaching the children.

Before McCormack returned home, he visited the Mother Therese’s Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince. That experience made an enormous impression on him. So much so, that he plans to revisit the hospital in December. “It’s number one on my list of places to help out,” McCormack said.

Back in Binghamton, McCormack is completing his senior year of high school and doing well. He said he excels in math and science and plans to major in engineering while at college. McCormack has other interests in addition to baseball. He enjoys golf, hanging with friends and serves as varsity football running back and linebacker at Seton.

McCormack’s trip to Haiti has changed his outlook on life. “It opened my eyes and gave me a lot of perspective on the world,” he said. When asked if he thought he had made a difference in the Haitian children’s lives, McCormack responded, “A little bit, I guess. I taught them a new sport. It gave them a chance to get away from it all and to have fun.” He also said his faith was a determining factor in his decision to teach baseball to the children. “I like to give back as much as I can,” he said.

Claudia Mathis is a staff writer for The Catholic Sun.

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