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May 2019

Book Review--Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America

Neither Monsters nor Amazons: 

Futbolera Gives Women in Latin American Sports the Voice They Deserve

Review by Sara Rauch 

COVER_Futbolera

“It’s hard to imagine a more direct exertion on children than school programs instructing them in how to move their bodies,” write Brenda Esley and Joshua Nadel in the introduction to Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America. This sentiment feeds directly into Esley and Nadel’s thought-provoking analysis of how women’s physicality has been controlled and manipulated via socially acceptable physical activity in Latin America. Fittingly, this engaging social history takes its name from those who have struggled to gain equal access and representation on the field—Futbolera comes from a term used to refer, simply, to a woman who plays soccer, though over the years it has been used more generally as a shorthand for women who have pushed cultural boundaries. 

 

The book, published by University of Texas Press this May, focuses particularly on women’s place in sports in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico, but covers other nations—Uruguay, Costa Rica, El Salvador—as well. As is the case in many Western cultures, the roles women have been allowed to play in Latin America has been severely circumscribed by nationalist, patriarchal values, and the narrative Esley and Nadel weave is one of direct state and bureaucratic control over women’s bodies. Futbolera delves into the archives across Latin America, seeking to fill the gaps of women’s exclusion from the record and providing a more balanced portrayal of women’s interest and participation. 

 

Beginning in the 1800s, physical education gained ground in Latin American countries by way of Swedish influence, first as a way of “bettering the race.” But it didn’t take long for “experts” to deem certain physical activities as better suited for women. Tennis, swimming, track and field (often with distance or weight modifications), and even basketball were usually considered acceptable for women to play, but more often things like dance or calisthenics were promoted “to stop the development of women’s muscles” and appease the worry that strenuous exercise would harm women’s physique and hormonal balance. While these “experts” advocated for “vigor and action” in men’s activity, they recommended exercise as a means of maintaining a woman’s beauty and preparing her for motherhood. Women who desired to play sports for their own sake were viewed—by politicians, educators, and even the general citizenry—as unnatural, or “monstrous.” Their sexuality was called into question: because “sports had been defined as essential to building and exhibiting proper masculinity, it constituted a dangerous terrain in terms of its potential to masculinize women”; alternately, sportswomen were “exoticized... as Amazons who existed outside of normal development.” Even female fans, coaches, and referees were considered dangerous.   

 

As might be expected, football (aka, soccer) plays a main role in the history of women’s sports in Latin America, and it is in the particular exploration of this group sport that the authors find their stride. Though there is evidence that women continued to play football despite the declarations against it, their social exclusion from the sport provides insight into the cultures’ prevailing ideas about sexuality and gender. Sports are fertile ground for understanding how race and class divisions are enforced within a society. The chapter “Policing Women’s Sports in Brazil” notes that as soccer became increasingly identified as Brazil’s national sport, “women’s exclusion... was part and parcel of marginalizing them as active agents of the nation.” In Brazil, the attitude that constrained women’s participation in physical exercise as a method of promoting beauty also “included a focus on whiteness.” Football, which gained popularity among working-class and black Brazilians in the 1920s and 30s, was particularly perceived as “violent,” thus furthering the idea that women shouldn’t play. In Brazil, and elsewhere across Latin America, “the exclusion of women [from football] took place at the very moment when the narrative of the sport as a democratizing and unifying force of national identity, particularly in terms of race, took hold.”  

 

What helps make Futbolera so interesting is that many of the struggles that women in sports have faced continue to linger. Consider that as recently as 2017 “the entire women’s [football] team of Club Nacional in Uruguay accused their coach... of gender discrimination.” The entire team! Sexism—which, among other things, dictates the type of physical body a culture deems attractive—remains rampant in the sports world of Latin America as well: in 2017 Adidas unveiled Argentina’s new team jerseys using male footballers... and female models. Examples such as these help expose underlying ideas about femininity, and women’s expected role in the public sphere—ideas that remain entrenched despite social change elsewhere.

 

Futbolera may focus on Latin America, but it’s not hard to see parallels with the current state of women’s sports in the United States and globally, where women continue to fight for equality. Think of the ongoing debates over Serena Williams’ actions and outfit choices in the United States, and it’s easy to see that women in sports are still the victims of patriarchal values that seek to keep them fit into a certain mold. 

 

The overarching history of women in sports in Latin America may be one of obfuscation, mistreatment, and mismanagement, but there are signs that the times are changing. Women’s teams in Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, and elsewhere are gaining in popularity and increasingly able to advocate for better access to facilities and financial assistance. Youth teams for girls are being promoted in Argentina, and in Ecuador, Vanessa Arauz has held the head coach position for the women’s national team since 2014.

 

As feminism continues to make strides in all aspects of life, a book like Futbolera helps illuminate the ways in which patriarchy has historically, literally, exercised control over women’s bodies. This well-written and meticulously researched history helps us understand the past, moving the female body out of the silence enforced upon it. History may have attempted to write women out of the story of sports in Latin America, but Futbolera puts the ball back in women’s possession.

 

Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America

Brenda Eisley and Joshua Nadel

University of Texas Press

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1042-7

$27.95, hardcover 

 


Rochester Red Wings Host An Educational Celebration Of Deaf Culture

By: RoseAnn Sapia

All Heels on Deck's focus on inclusion includes writers who are disabled having a platform, as well as events that center their experiences. We'll continue to do that, and ask that if you send any similar event information to ahoddesk@gmail.com. Similarly, if you're a disabled baseball writer and would like to write something personal, or if you would like to write about a player or other story that focuses on disabilities, please pitch to that same address. We thank you!~Jessica Quirli, AHOD Editor

 

Cut-1

 

Imagine attending a game at the ballpark, and it’s completely silent. Your favorite player steps to the plate, but there’s no walkup music, no introduction. There’s no background noise either. No sound effects or PA announcements. No one is chatting between innings or cheering every time a runner crosses the plate.

 

Many people aren’t accustomed to attending a social outing such as a baseball game with a hushed atmosphere, yet this is similar to what members of the Deaf Community experience when they’re at the ballpark. Experiencing a ballgame as a member of the Deaf Community is unique, and the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, recently went above and beyond to cater to that.

 

On Sunday, April 28 the Rochester Red Wings hosted Deaf Culture Day at Frontier Field during their matinee against the Pawtucket Red Sox. They teamed up with Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and the Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD) to bring the idea to life in the most authentic way.

 

“We wanted to make this a celebration”, says Dan Mason, General Manager of the Red Wings, adding that they wanted this game to be for the people of the Deaf Community while educating fans who are not Deaf about the culture. Everything from the uniforms worn to content played on the video board reflected this idea.

 

As part of the celebration, the Red Wings designed a jersey and cap that utilized American Sign Language (ASL). The jersey read “Red Wings” spelled out in ASL, while the cap featured the ASL sign for “R”. After the game, the player worn jerseys were autographed and auctioned off via the LiveSource app with proceeds benefiting RSD and NTID. Discounted tickets were also made available to students, faculty, and staff from these schools and their families to attend the game.  

 

D5PlAVqXoAEWn64.jpg-largeImage from Red Wings Twitter

 

The festivities continued as fans entered the ballpark. Interpreters were stationed at the ticket office, concession stands, team store, inside the seating bowl, and on field for announcements. With assistance from NTID, the video board and closed-circuit broadcast at Frontier Field featured captions throughout the game, which is something they had never done before.

 

The goal of this promotion was to make this as geared to the Deaf Community as possible, so members of NTID and RSD were active participants throughout the ballgame. Jake Schwall, a student at NTID, signed God Bless America, other students from the schools signed the National Anthem, and all contestants during In-Game Contests were Deaf. A special NTID alum even reprised his role with the Red Wings on the field.

 

Ogden Whitehead, better known as Recycleman, worked with the Red Wings in the late 90s and early 2000s. He too is a member of the Deaf Community, and would lead the crowd in cheers during the games.

 

CutImage from Red Wings Twitter. Taken by Bare Antolos.

 

Describing him as having an infectious and outgoing personality, Mason believes Deaf Culture Day was the perfect time to bring Recycleman back in almost 15 years. “He’s such a great advocate for the Deaf Community”, he adds.

 

All throughout the game, the team highlighted famous Deaf people who made important contributions to society. This furthered the educational and celebrational tones of the day, as people left the ballpark with more knowledge about Deaf Culture.

 

The Seventh Inning is when the atmosphere of the game really keyed in on the Deaf experience. Referred to as the “Signing Inning”, the seventh was designed to make the Deaf fans in attendance feel at home, while giving all of the fans who were not Deaf a glimpse of what it’s like to be Deaf at a baseball game. The sense of sight was stressed, since there were no additional sound effects during the seventh inning, it was all about what fans could see. The inning put an emphasis on what the Deaf Community has to do to communicate, with ASL being integrated as much as possible.

 

During the Signing Inning, no music was played, no PA announcements or player introductions were made, and there were no sound effects. Instead, the video board showed the players signing their names as they walked to the plate. During Take Me Out To The Ballgame, a recording of Red Wings players signing different portions of the song in ASL was shown.

 

 

Everyone from the players to team employees got involved in the spirit of the day by learning a little bit of ASL. GM Mason learned how to sign his name and “Go Wings”. One usher went as far as learning how to sign “Can I help you?” and “Goodnight” in order to be as helpful as possible.  Mason followed that lead and signed “Goodnight” as fans left the ballpark after the game. Even though the Deaf Community knew they weren’t fluent in ASL, Mason could sense their appreciation for making an effort.

 

“We wanted to make this as comfortable an experience as possible”, Mason states, which is why the Red Wings partnered with NTID and RSD once the idea of hosting a Deaf Culture Day came to fruition.

 

Every time the team does a promotion, management tries to come up with something that will attract a different segment to the ballpark, whether they’re baseball fans or not.

 

Last season, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, hosted a Deaf Awareness Night. According to studies as recent as 2017, Rochester, New York has the largest per capita Deaf population in America. Mason saw hosting an event similar to that of the Pelicans to be a great way to reach out and get that community engaged at the ballpark.

 

“In Minor League Baseball we all share our greatest ideas”, Mason says, noting that MiLB is nothing like Corporate America where no one wants to give their secrets away. In order to collectively get better as a whole, individual teams have to better themselves, too. “We share with our brothers and sisters in baseball”, he adds.

 

Knowing they wanted to host the larger Deaf Community in town at Frontier Field this season, the Red Wings used the Pelicans concept as a starting point, and added new wrinkles for their unique market to see if they could make it a success.

 

The first step to bringing Deaf Culture Day to life in Rochester was setting up a Steering Committee comprised of people from NTID and RSD in order to make sure every detail and aspect of the promotion would strike a chord with the Deaf Community. The Red Wings turned to John Panara, who although is not Deaf, grew up in a Deaf household and taught at NTID, to help select the committee.

 

***

 

Panara’s family is heavily integrated into Deaf Culture and history. Robert Panara, John’s father who became Deaf at the age of 10 as a result of spinal meningitis, is a Deaf Culture pioneer. He graduated from Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. in the 1940s, and returned there upon graduation as an English professor where he taught for almost 20 years.

 

After joining the advisory board in 1965, Robert helped to establish NTID, and later joined the school as an English professor in 1967, making him NTID’s first Deaf faculty member. A poet and author himself, Robert would then aid in the creation of the school’s English Department and Drama Club. He taught at NTID for 20 years.

 

Because Robert did so much for the advancement of Deaf Culture, the U.S. Postal Service had a stamp made in his honor in 2017, three years after his passing. The stamp reads “Robert Panara, Teacher, Pioneer of Deaf Studies”, and shows an image of Panara signing the word “respect”. It is the 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series.  

 

114004-L0 Image from U.S. Postal Service

 

The Panara Family’s connection to Deaf Culture Day goes beyond their history and involvement at NTID. According to Mason, Robert loved baseball, and was a Red Wings Season Ticket Holder. What better family to help marry Deaf Culture and Red Wings baseball than the Panara Family?

 

John Panara was the first person the Red Wings called to invite to be a part of this event. He helped put together the Steering Committee, which included Skip Flanagan, a former baseball player at NTID who currently serves as the Athlete Development Coordinator at the school, among others. The Committee listened to ideas, and guided management to select the ones that would resonate most with members of the Deaf Community.

 

John even provided the Red Wings with Great Deaf Americans, the book his father authored in 1983, along with slides his father had of famous members of the Deaf Community to use as educational tools throughout the game.

 

The best thing that came out of the first meeting with the Steering Committee was the creation of the promotion’s name. They agreed they wanted to make this a celebration, and thus, Deaf Culture Day at Frontier Field was born.

 

***

 

Looking back at Deaf Culture Day, GM Mason sees the unique promotion as an overall success. Although it was a cold and overcast day, the Red Wings had a very good turnout, which was an encouraging sign.

 

For Mason, the best part of the day was being at the ballpark to experience it. “It was cool to walk in the stands to see people speaking in American Sign Language and having a good time”, he reflects.

 

Deaf Culture Day was really an extension of the services the Red Wings already offer at Frontier Field on a gamely basis. For about the last 10 years, the Red Wings have had interpreters on the field for the National Anthem, God Bless America, Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and some pre-game festivities, which was already more than other MiLB teams provide. This celebration took what was already in place, and raised it to another power.

 

Now that it’s clear the first ever Deaf Culture Day struck a chord with the Deaf Community in Rochester, Mason knows this is something they want to make an annual event at the ballpark. In fact, they’ve already started meeting to discuss what else they can do next year that would make the celebration even better.

 

“Hopefully we can encourage other teams, even in other sports, to do something similar.”

 

To see more moments from Deaf Culture Day at Frontier Field, visit @RocRedWings on Twitter or visit the photo gallery from the game here. Red Wings Deaf Culture Day merchandise featuring American Sign Language can be purchased at the Official Online Store of the Rochester Red Wings here.

RoseAnn Sapia is a Features Writer and the Co-Editor of Lifer for All Heels on Deck. Follow RoseAnn on Twitter to discuss all things baseball (basketball, too) @_RoseAnnSapia.


Sheryl Ring: The Week From Hell

By Sheryl Ring

“Crusty tranny dyke.”

For some reason, of all that my wife and I endured during what we now call “The Week of Hell,” that’s what sticks in my memory the most. Three little words. “Crusty tranny dyke.”

How bad was it? I’ve dealt with hate before. You can’t be a woman – especially a trans woman – in any kind of even quasi-public setting without having some kind of vitriol thrown your way. But this was different. I’d been misgendered, mocked, harassed, called a “thing” and “that.” I’d even received anonymous threats before. But these – these were personal. I’m not repeating the threats here because I won’t give those people the public platform they so clearly crave. I won’t give them my platform, or whatever is left of it. But I will include a sampling of how social media responded to my story. It’s not, alas, all that much better.

T1 Sheryl

It started inauspiciously enough. I spent months working on the Cubs’ coverage of Russell, talking to people in positions who would know what was going on. I’m eternally grateful that of all the people they could have confided in, they chose to talk to me. I told no one of our conversations, because that’s what they requested – and I agreed. Eventually, one of the sources let me know that they would be willing to go on the record, at least anonymously. It’s an enormous responsibility to be entrusted with telling someone’s story, especially when that story involves issues as weighted as domestic abuse and freedom of the press. By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what it is I’m talking about.

I’ve been a storyteller my entire professional life. In my day job as the legal director at Open Communities, I represent people facing eviction, foreclosure, or housing discrimination who can’t afford lawyers. My job is simple: tell my client’s story. Tell it truthfully. Explain why this person doesn’t deserve to be on the street, homeless, because they lost their job, or because of the color of their skin. My job for Fangraphs is similar, though – usually, at least – the stories are of less import. Until, that is, this weekend.

 

T2 Sheryl

 

I won’t deny that the Addison Russell saga is personal for me. I explained why for Fangraphs last year, with a piece that I was honored to receive a SABR award for writing. So the idea that an organization – a powerful organization, like the Cubs, with flagship radio and television stations and ownership connected to the politically powerful – would willfully try to shape how our society views a domestic abuser was alarming to me. It should, I’d argue, be alarming to everyone. I’m not going to opine here about whether Russell is or should be deserving of a second chance; that’s irrelevant now. And my point was never to denigrate the man. Rather, my point was that when a powerful entity tries to control how the media portrays an abuser for its own gain, that damages all of us. It normalizes abuse. It makes the abuser, rather than the victim, a sympathetic figure. 

These kinds of narratives are why women don’t report abuse. They’re why rape culture exists. And they’re why people felt comfortable telling me, in some detail, the process they would use to rape, kill, and dismember me. The first death threat I received Wednesday morning – the one that began by calling me a “crusty tranny dyke” – spanned three pages of this kind of detail. Why? Because the writer accused me of ruining Addison Russell’s life. You see, when you deliberately paint an abuser as a redeemed figure, you make it acceptable to abuse others. If abuse is a redeemable mistake, abuse becomes a trivial matter, and demands for accountability become the greater evil.

 

T3Sheryl

 

When Julian Green was saying that I had “absolute power unchecked” – he knew very well what he was doing. Of course, I had no such thing. But that’s the very essence of misogyny. 

When Julian Green was saying that I had “absolute power unchecked” – he knew very well what he was doing. Of course, I had no such thing. But that’s the very essence of misogyny, you see.Saying a woman has “absolute power” will inevitably lead to men trying to undo that power, especially when it hits a nerve those men see in themselves, like domestic abuse. Threats of rape are the ultimate way of removing women’s power.

Threats of rape aren’t about sex – they’re about power. There is something primal about the fear that comes with being threatened with rape. It’s a threat to take away your autonomy, your agency, your sexuality – and in so doing it does take away your autonomy, your agency, your sexuality. There are few things which can make you feel so powerless. Everything the Cubs did was about eliminating my power. Suddenly, when 670TheScore was talking about me, I wasn’t even allowed to be a lawyer anymore. Instead, I was listed as a person “whose Twitter account says she’s a lawyer.” It would have been easy enough to look it up, but they had to cast doubt on every one of my credentials.

And there’s little doubt that Green made a conscious decision. After all, a number of media members, reporters, and commentators – largely cishet white men like Mike Gianella, Herb Lawrence, and even Paul Sullivan – tweeted confirmations that what I had said was accurate. But Green didn’t go after any of them. He went after only the woman, and told a radio audience that woman was abusing her power. He may not have sent the rape threats himself, but he got exactly the response he was hoping for. Every woman knows that when a man publicly says you have too much power, he’s inviting the mob to put you in your place.

T4Sheryl

 

 

Take the threat which began “crusty tranny dyke.” That one went on for three interminable pages, describing how I would be raped, dismembered, and murdered. I didn’t read the whole thing before I blocked the sender, vanishing the message. But the memory stayed, burned into my subconscious. It’s impossible to read how a man is going to brutalize you so you will know your place without being changed. 

I was mocked for having a “GoFundMe” to pay for my transition surgery. The GoFundMe is humiliating enough – having to out yourself is brutal as it is – but having people spread the lie that I made this up to get money for my surgery is transphobic as hell. And that’s when the misgendering started, calling me a “TG Wannabe” and a man. Evidently, “TG Wannabe” became my new moniker on Reddit. Some threats even referenced my surgery.

Later on Wednesday, I was receiving so many of these terrifying messages that when a phone number I didn’t recognize called me on my cell phone, I froze and panicked, convinced that the caller was yet another threat. It wasn’t – it was actually opposing counsel on a case – but I was too terrified to answer the phone. I froze, utterly in shock, until I collided with the car in front of me. I was still hyperventilating when the police arrived – not from the crash, but from the fear. What if one of these people came and raped me whilst I was at the accident scene, unable to leave?

I spent hours crying in my wife’s arms. It impacted her, too; you can’t watch your spouse go through something like this without going through it with her. She was resolute the entire time, wiping my tears, telling me it would be okay, urging me to be proud of who I was and the stand I had taken. As the world closed in around me, she tried to hold it back with her bare hands. It was amazing and terrifying to watch, as the strain of what she was trying to do tested her. She didn’t sleep at all that week, keeping a watchful eye out in case someone decided to act on their threat in the middle of the night. My wife, who has lived in and around Chicago her entire life, watched as her home turned on her family. And when she didn’t think I could hear, she cried too. 

Before Julian Green reached out to Fangraphs, he didn’t reach out to me. In fact, he and I have never spoken. I didn’t mention him in my tweets, although his unflinching insistence that I was talking about him is pretty clear evidence I struck a nerve. Only two people reached out to me for a comment. Bill Baer talked to me before he wrote his story for NBC Sports. And Gabe Fernandez with Deadspin not only asked for a comment, but also asked for permission to use my name given the threats I was receiving, a courtesy I very much appreciated. Paul Sullivan, whose article in the Chicago Tribune rather backhandedly threw shade in my direction for making my account private (and made no mention of the threats I was receiving as the reason why), didn’t reach out to me at all. Neither did anyone from the Mully and Haugh show on 670TheScore, despite having Julian Green on the radio for a prolonged rant impugning my integrity. Green himself also didn’t talk to me before his screed, which ignited a new round of threats. Once the threats couldn’t come through Twitter, the threats came to my “Sheryl Ring, Esq.” facebook page, so I deleted that. Then they came through Instagram, so I made that account private. The sheer volume of hate was too much; I deleted the Twitter application from my phone, and let Meg Rowley and David Appelman at Fangraphs, and Jessica Quiroli at All Heels On Deck, know I was taking a leave of absence until the storm of harassment had passed. 

I don’t know when it will be safe to write again. I’m writing this, even though I know it will make things worse again for a while, because it’s important that people know and understand what happened here. I broke a story – a true story - about a powerful organization’s protection of a domestic abuser. Men with that organization responded with dog whistles that led to me receiving rape and death threats. There’s no better confirmation that my story was true than in how the Cubs responded. Misogyny, you see, doesn’t – can’t – hide. The Cubs organization valued the men who reported on my story. The only woman? She got thrown away. Silenced. Told to go back to the shadows. All so they could sell Addison Russell, abuser of women, as redeemed by playing a game.

It’s almost as if the Cubs don’t view women as human beings.

 

You can request to follow Sheryl Ring @Ring_Sheryl 

You can donate to her transition fund on her gofundme page-- https://www.gofundme.com/sheryl039s-transition-fund

 


Postcards From The Minor Leagues: Todd Van Steensel Faces New Questions With Optimism

This is the third installment in this series. The fourth and final part will run in July. 

IT’S ALL PART OF IT

Well, as you all know I am no longer in affiliated baseball and about to embark on my first journey into independent league baseball. I signed with the St Paul Saints who play in the American Association of Professional Baseball. It wasn’t something I had planned for this year, but with everything I’ve come across in life I’ve had to find a way to make it work and figure it out. And with the mentality that “It’s all part of it” I was going to make the best of a less than ideal situation. 

With being released came a lot of problems. One problem was where will I stay in the US while I find another team? Luckily the people I’m staying with were generous enough to let me stay with them for as long as I needed. It’s funny how the universe unfolds, because the person I’m living with here actually lived with my family and me in Australia for two months, about seven years ago when she worked for the Sydney Blue Sox of the ABL. So we hosted her back then, now gets to be my host here! It’s fun because her and her husband work in baseball, and are big baseball fans, so they understand the struggle of working in baseball. They have been more than accommodating to me. Image1

A second problem was how am I going to stay in game shape for the next month when I don’t have access to a baseball field? Luckily, I was able to find someone on Facebook who lives in Tempe who was also preparing to join a team in Canada. We met up everyday at a soccer field nearby to play catch. He would drive from Tempe, and I would ride a scooter to the field. Unfortunately he left to go join his team this week, so now I’m on the lookout for another catch partner! In the meantime, I’ll just continue to throw baseballs against a fence! Sometimes you just have to do the best with what’s in front of you. Find a reason to make it work instead of finding a reason you can’t do something!

A third problem was, how am I going to fund myself for the next five weeks? As everyone knows you don’t get paid a salary in spring training, so I was supporting myself with the money I saved in the offseason. Luckily I live at home in the offseason and my mum doesn’t make me pay rent, and she cooks for me every night, so I’m able to save nearly everything I make in the offseason playing in the Australian Baseball League. Along with funding myself for the next few weeks, how was I going to pay for the necessary things I need once I got to St Paul. When I got released by the Twins in August last year, another player moved into my apartment and used all the bedding, pillows and towels. Unfortunately when the season was done he wasn’t able to pack it all so I told him to leave it in Chattanooga for the next person to use. So those things were back on my shopping list of things I’ll need. Desperate times call for desperate measures and I thought, why not post my venmo account on twitter and see if anyone was willing to donate. It couldn’t hurt? People might make fun of me for it, but I’ve never been someone who has shied away from asking for help. In four days, people had donated a total of $583. That is enough to buy everything I need for my apartment, as well as contribute to paying rent. People have also messaged me saying that they can donate silverware and plates and other kitchen utensils. It is honestly heartwarming and humbling that so many people want to help you and support you. 

My mum is a big believer in paying it forward. After all the years of her taking in baseball players at our house in the off-season, her coming to the US and taking myself and teammates out for dinner or even making dinner, and just willing to help anyway she can, I think this is the universe paying it forward to me because of her. 

Which leads to the reason for this post. In times of struggle, no matter how big or small there will be people willing to help. When it’s all said and done, it’s never just you who got to where you are. Everyone who helped you along the way, they are the reason you get there. They are the ones who believe in you and support you when it gets tough, and for every single person who has gotten me to this point, I am eternally grateful.

You can follow Todd Van Steensel on Twitter @toddvs35