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Learning Life Skills in the Pirates Education System



Pittsburgh Pirates, Dominican Summer League

This continues a series of stories surrounding the Pirates’ Dominican Academy and international development system. For Part I, click here; For Part II, click here; For Part III, click here; For Part IV, click here. For Part I on the Pirates’ education system, click here; For Part II, click here; For Part III, click here.

The education system the Pirates have in place for their players takes many forms, with English literacy, high school courses and a framework that supports the pursuit of higher education. 

Another facet of the education system deals with life skills, ensuring young players know how to succeed in day to day life.

Learning Life Lessons

Pirates’ Senior Education Coordinator Mayu Fielding said that financial literacy is one skill they want their players to have, especially when they’re signing large contracts at a young age.

“I think this is an important one because a lot of people think because they’re players they have a lot of money. They’re kids,” Fielding said. “They still are learning, and sometimes I see them and they don’t understand the difference between having a checking or a savings account, [asking] ‘why do I have to have a card?’ With that comes budgeting. There’s so many things that they do.”

Other topics of note include proper nutrition planning and how to use computers. In the early days, Fielding had to teach these courses herself, even if it was outside her area of expertise. As the resources and staff within the organization—particularly at the Dominican Summer League facility—continue to improve, she’s able to delegate those responsibilities if needed, ensuring that each of these vital topics receives adequate care and expertise.

“We do fundamentals of computers, we want to make sure that they understand how to work with computers. We want to make sure that they understand the food system and nutrition,” Fielding said. “Because we have staff now in different areas, I don’t have to do the food nutrition workshops anymore because we have a nutritionist.”

Discretion is a Better Part of Valor

Fielding said another part of life skills coaching centers around how to conduct oneself, preaching discretion to help keep social young players from sharing too much, like sensitive financial details.

“Whether it’s social media, how to address the public, how to do your finances, how not to tell other people about your finances—that’s another thing, because they want to share everything,” Fielding said. “You don’t want them to share things that are personal or that could in any way cause any harm.”

Natural Leaders

The Pirates’ educational philosophy centers on self-determination. They want to foster an environment where players want to learn rather than having to because someone else tells them to. Similarly, Fielding said the players who have already advanced in the Pirates’ system provide an excellent resource for their younger peers. It hones their own skills as leaders, while giving the younger players a mentor of a similar age and background, helping them reach out to one another.

“We have a lot of players who are natural leaders…we have a buddy system or mentoring system. It’s not an official [one], but they become the mentors or buddies of players who are not yet there [on their level of proficiency],” Fielding said. “When they come to the United States, for instance, and we’re talking about financial literacy, players who have already done things and have mastered them, know about them, they are going to help the ones that are not there yet…they are the best mentors for younger players.”

Fielding said that the Pirates try to harness the power of word of mouth communication as their messaging spreads through the ranks like wildfire.

“It is important that they understand the systems really well, because they are going to be the ones giving the know-how to the rest of the players,” Fielding said. “When we talk about the word of mouth, it works really well with the players. Anything we say they’re gonna transmit it to the rest. We need to make sure that what we’re saying is going to reach all of them.”

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