Though summer break is nearing for students, their community-service efforts (and baseball season!) will remain in full swing.
05/03/2012 5:12 PM ET
Nathan joins Action Team on call
Rangers closer talks to students about being supportive
By Ashton Ramsburg / MLBPLAYERS.com
Rangers closer Joe Nathan, a four-time All-Star, joined Action Team high school student volunteers from around the country on their final monthly teleconference of the school year to talk about the importance of being a supportive teammate and giving back to the community.
Founded by the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Volunteers of America, the Action Team connects high school students with Major League players to promote youth volunteerism. Since its launch in 2003, more than 40,000 Action Team student volunteers in 148 high schools nationwide have helped improve the lives of over 145,000 people in need.
Nathan phoned in from the clubhouse in Arlington, Texas, as the player guest for April in the Action Team monthly conference call series. During the calls, Action Team captains chat with Major Leaguers about their various community projects, teamwork and, of course, baseball.
Nathan, who is closing in on 300 career saves, stressed that such accomplishments do not come without a strong support group.
"You need people that have your back," Nathan said. "It's all about supporting each other and doing what we can to better somebody else's life that might not be where they want to be right now."
Former teammates like Rod Beck and Robb Nen served as strong role models for Nathan when he was a rookie playing in San Francisco, so, in turn, he tries to set a similar example for his younger, less experienced teammates.
"The one thing that I've learned throughout this game is good teammates are the ones you remember. I've had a bunch of them."
Nathan recalled the lasting bond he built with former teammates Nen and Jim Thome. "They always say nice guys finish last. That's not always the case."
Trying to be a positive role model off the field, Nathan uses his Save It Foundation to support a variety of charities. It raises money and awareness for worthy causes. To date, the Save It Foundation has worked with Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation and State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook among others.
"As athletes, I think we're very blessed in that we have opportunities to go out into the community."
He described the feeling of joy he gets from volunteering as "second to none."
"I think [the Action Team] is a great way to get the youth involved and have them kind of have that same sense and feeling of pride to be out there helping people that are in need," Nathan said. "Hopefully, as they grow up and become adults, this is something that they continue to want to do and support."
Nathan and the rest of the student volunteers on the teleconference welcomed the Action Team of the Month: St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School from Maui, Hawaii. Captains from St. Anthony spoke on their recent volunteer work with American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
"We did a lot of activities to help us understand what cancer really is and how we can help other people," explained one of the Maui students.
The student volunteers also held their annual Hale Makua Senior Ball in December. This is a prom-inspired event in which students help Wailuku's Hale Makua Senior Center residents dress up, apply makeup and dance the night away. The Action Team students stressed the importance of making community service fun.
Nathan was clearly impressed by the students' thoughts and action.
"Pretty impressive," he said. "I know when I was in high school we weren't doing stuff like this, so you guys are miles ahead of where I was. It sounds like this Action Team is on the right track, and I like where it's headed.
"Continue to be involved. It doesn't matter how small the job, how big the job, you being out there is really affecting a lot of people and putting a lot of smiles on people's faces."