How is Haese Academy connected to the Pinkmans?
Derek Haese is a 2007 graduate of George Washington University and was a RHP for the GW Colonials. In 2014, Derek and his wife, Susan, moved into the same Reston neighborhood where John and Ruth Ann Pinkman have lived for 25 years, and where Jeff and Brandi were making the transition from their apartment to their first townhome. Yes, it’s a small world!
In the summer of 2016, Derek and Susan quit their jobs, sold all of their belongings and moved their family of four from Washington, DC to the coastal town of Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic, where Susan had secured a job teaching at a local international school. Although Derek didn’t have job, he knew he wanted to coach baseball; and what better place to do so than the Dominican Republic? . . . The land where baseball reigns! Thus, on his birthday, Derek ventured to the local “play” and told “el jefe” he wanted to help.
How are the Pinkmans connected to Las Terrenas?
Spring of 2014
John, Ruth Ann, and close friend Joel Riley, vacationed to Las Terrenas. Prior to their trip, the Pinkman Academy had collected baseball equipment (bats, balls, gloves, shoes, and helmets) to give to the Las Terrenas ball players, who had nothing in the way of appropriate baseball equipment. They loaded up the equipment in several bags and off they headed to the DR
During their trip John quickly discovered that not only did the children of Las Terrenas have poor equipment, they also didn’t have a proper playing field.
In the pics below you’ll see that their “baseball field” doubled as a cow pasture. Prior to John, Joel, and Ruth Ann handing out the the baseball gear, they had a pretty hefty job ahead of them just cleaning the field! Along with the town’s children, everyone “pitched” in to not only clear the field of animals, but also filled two dozen bags of trash so the boys could play in a fairly normal environment.
John even found a regular mode of transportation in his time on the island!
In the next two pics below you’ll see some of the equipment handed out, along with a make-shift bat (on the right) that the boys had played with prior to being handed something a little more “kid-friendly”.
During their week in Las Terrenas (2014), John and Joel made their way to one of the regular ball fields and met with a much older group. In the pic below (left), you’ll see John talking to Sylvano, about the difference between a 4-seam fastball and a 2-seam fastball.
On the right, you see Derek Haese (the tall one), owner of the Haese Academy in Nov 2017 with……you guessed it…….Sylvano!!
Fast forward to 2017
A year into his journey, with strong roots, the concept of the Haese Academy truly took a new form, and Derek Haese began coaching a nd teaching teenagers who were seeking professional contracts. The ballplayers, or “peloteros” as they are called in Las Terrenas, started showing up, one by one, at the Haese household. Some of the boys would run 3 miles to get to the house in the morning so they could practice on the grounds in the afternoon.
This was welcomed with open arms because it gave Susan and Derek the opportunity to provide the aspiring athletes with some healthy food and vitamins, something that unfortunately these young men are not guaranteed to have on a daily basis. The peloteros quickly learned some great new habits, which led to countless breakfasts and dinners with the Haese family, and eventually one student-athlete moving in full time.
As you would expect, the schedule of the ballplayers evolved and eventually blended into the schedule of the Haese family. They would workout at the field in the morning and early afternoon with Derek, and then meet up with Susan in the early evening for a study session and dinner that consisted of conversation in English. The two worlds, education and sport, were coming together beautifully and all involved were able to quickly see the growth and development that was blossoming.
A year later, the boys have put on an average of 12-15 pounds of healthy athletic muscle, their pitching mechanics have improved ten-fold, and some are on the verge of signing professional contracts. While this is an amazing feat in its own right, Susan and Derek are most proud of the fact that the boys are now engaged in their school work and starting to speak English.
The pic below on the left are four teenagers after finishing their semester final exams. They practice baseball during the day and go to school at night.
A requirement of the Haese Academy is that everyone must be enrolled in high school, or have graduated, in order to participate.
Prior to the holidays Derek contacted Jeff to inquire about finding a used radar gun. During their conversation, Jeff was hit with the idea of how the Pinkman Academy and The Project for Athletic Leadership (PAL) (our non-profit) could not only help in this single situation but provide continuous assistance throughout the year.
Derek and his family traveled back to the DC area for the holidays, and everyone took advantage of the opportunity to talk over how to keep the Haese project moving forward. The Pinkman Academy was able to contribute Pinkman T-shirts, more than 2-dozen bats, over 120 baseballs, J-bands, a radar gun, and a glove for Derek to take back to Las Terrenas. A LOT of basic necessities for the players in Las Terrenas!
As a result of Derek’s trip to see Jeff, the Pinkman Academy and PAL have made a commitment to “adopt” the Haese Academy, in order to provide continual help to the peloteros in Las Terrenas throughout the year. The Pinkman Academy will now collect NEW or USED equipment and send it to the Haese Academy monthly. PAL (non-profit- 501(c)(3)) will also be accepting monetary donations via PayPal with the proceeds going directly to support the players of the Haese Academy.
We welcome all to participate in donating, no-longer-used equipment that might be taking up space in your closets, basements, or garages. If you would prefer to purchase new equipment and bring it in we are happy to accept those donations as well.
With so many families around the area not on our mailing list we encourage players to take a leadership role within their own baseball families. We ask that players develop a plan to approach their teammates and coaches to participate in collecting gear to bring to the Pinkman Academy.
Please forward this email to family, friends, teammates, and leagues so we can help those who don’t have the basic equipment to play the sport we all love.
PAL is a 501(c)(3)
What is PAL?
The Project for Athletic Leadership 501(c)(3)-(#45-3541834) non-profit was formed to provide direct leadership training to teens and coaches. In addition to ethics, character and integrity, PAL’s emphasis on teaching leadership skills includes: team development, innovation and creativity, win-win relationships, problem solving, decision making, conflict management, adaptation to change, time management, and sports psychology.
If you would like to make a monetary donation to PAL to directly help the peloteros of the Haese Academy you can make a tax deductible donation through PAL’s PayPal account: email@example.com.