April 6, 2010
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER
Rice senior pitcher Mark Haynes sees a need in a demographic foreign to his and in communities miles away from where he was reared. Those needs serve as motivation behind a project that consumes his free time.
In applying a commitment to his membership to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Haynes is working with fellow Rice letterman Kenny Baldwin (1977-79) to set up a baseball development academy designed to help create a learning path to college for underprivileged youth. Through baseball, Baldwin emerged from a relatively hardscrabble environment, and his aim to help others accomplish the same goal was what attracted Haynes, who has a pressing desire to mentor young men.
"I've been blessed with great family and great friends, and I've had a bunch of friends that haven't been," Haynes said. "It's worked on me in a way that kids have a special place in my heart, and teaching this game the right way is important to me. How many times do you see guys not respecting the game, and in a lot of ways the off-field stuff is even worse.
"If you get a hold of these kids early and say, `These are the guys on the news but not the ones you really need to look at,' it just gives them an example of what the right way to play is and how to handle yourself as a man. A lot of these kids aren't going to have a father figure in their life, no positive male role models other than somebody at school or a coach. If we can provide them a good example, it has the potential to have a greater impact than we might even be able to first foresee. Who knows?"
Baldwin will team with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of America to develop the academy on land donated by Chaplewood United Methodist Church in Houston. The academy will be powered by volunteer efforts and will feature baseball training as well as mentorship programs. Haynes, a kinesiology/sports management major, has worked for Baldwin on the project, and has been assigned the task of developing a pitching manual for coaches and students alike.
The Rice Baseball brand certainly helps in the establishment of a charitable foundation, and Haynes is hopeful that his pending work with the Baldwin academy will further mold his plans for opening an elite baseball training facility. He first hatched the idea while recovering from Tommy John surgery years ago and after discovering that most training facilities were geared toward football and not baseball-specific. As he closes in on graduation in May, Haynes continues to develop plans for helping others in the future, both immediately and in a distant capacity.
That he can accomplish those goals while being of service to those in need speaks to Haynes' selfless commitment and efficient planning,
"Being involved with them has given me a better idea of how to start my own project," Haynes said.
With his dedication to helping youth and plans on aiding others who play baseball, Mark Haynes is set to become one of Tomorrow's Leaders.