Eph Baseball Team Continues College's Connection to Lowell Elementary School (Mesa, AZ) Fifth Graders

March 2016 Ephs baseball team visits Lowell Elementary School fifth graders/Phil Burr
March 2016 Ephs baseball team visits Lowell Elementary School fifth graders/Phil Burr

MESA, ARIZONA -- Williams College has developed an extraordinary relationship with Lowell Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona and it started when a class of fifth graders wrote to the Dean's Office last fall and asked about the college.

READ about the first contact between Mesa Elementary School and Williams College. 

For the past several years the Eph baseball team has spent spring break in Arizona where they play abut half of their annual schedule. Time off from games and practice is very limited. However, Eph head coach Bill Barrale and 15 team members made a two-hour trip to visit the fifth graders at Lowell Elementary Schools and it was a day that will not be forgotten for quite some time.

Following is an email sent to Williams Athletic Director Lisa Melendy from Phil Burr '84, President, and Phoenix Williams College Alumni Association.

Hi Lisa,

I am sending this note, as the memories from today are indelibly fresh in my mind. Coach Barrale and 15 of his players drove 2 hours from Tucson on one of their few off days in their spring break schedule to spend about 90 minutes with a class of fifth graders at an impoverished elementary school in a Phoenix suburb. I'm certain you have some familiarity with this relationship which began last August; has been front & center on the college website; distributed worldwide through EphNotes; and briefly described in a voice message I left you last month.

Your baseball team represented Williams in an extraordinary manner. The cheers and screams when the players entered the gym for lunch were deafening. The 33 students were sitting in about 6 groups on the floor. The team members immediately sat down without prompting and talked with the students as we ate lunch. We then spent an hour on the playground with the players teaching how to hold a bat, how to swing, how to catch, etc. The kids would not have been more excited even if we brought the Arizona Diamondbacks to see them.

This is what happiness looks like

I've never been asked to sign an autograph in the context of memorabilia. Someone produced a Sharpie, however, and your team signed countless whiffle balls, baseballs, etc. I have attached two photos from the event. The first is of a boy showing his signed whiffle ball. It will remain one of my favorite photos for the rest of my life. The second photo is of the class and the team in which the team members are holding posters that the students had made to illustrate their love for Williams College.

Your baseball team helped create a day that Lowell will never forget. The principal told me other classes were jealous of the attention shown by Williams. The college's outreach to Lowell has been beyond any expectations. Thank you so much for your support.

Phil Burr '84

President, Phoenix Williams College Alumni Association

Bill Barrale added, "Our players did an excellent job. It was a healthy diversion from our hectic competitive schedule. We used baseball to bridge the gap with these children and felt so blessed to play a small part in a wonderful day. Those children are truly amazing."

Eph junior infielder Jackson Parese commented, "It was great to be around a group of students that were so positive and enthusiastic about Williams and pursuing college education in general. They were eager to learn about life at Williams and we were able to learn a lot about their lives as well."

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