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Teaching the language of baseball

Last summer, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity junior Roberto Lavin stood on a base­ball field in the Dominican Republic, making sure Latin Amer­ican prospects in the Boston Red Sox orga­ni­za­tion called for cut­offs and fly balls in English.

The expe­ri­ence was part of his co-​​op as an Eng­lish lan­guage tutor for the Boston Red Sox Dominican Base­ball Academy, where 16– to 20-​​year-​​old prospects in the Dominican Summer League live, train and develops their skills.

Whether a gifted Dominican League star gets called up to the Show may hinge on his ability to under­stand and dis­cuss base­ball lingo in Eng­lish, Lavin said, noting that it’s a par­tic­u­larly high pri­ority for catchers in the academy.

“The Red Sox would always talk about how essen­tial Eng­lish is for all posi­tion players, but to a catcher, Eng­lish is really a neces­sity,” he explained. “I worked closely with young catchers, tutoring them fre­quently and sim­u­lating catcher-​​pitcher mound interactions.”

As part of his experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­nity, Lavin tracked player progress in Eng­lish class and trans­lated daily pitching, hit­ting and game reports that were read by top Red Sox officials.

He became close to many of the players, whom he saw in class, on the field and in the weight room. “I was with them from the crack of dawn when prac­tice would start,” Lavin said. “The players truly appre­ci­ated my time, effort and dedication.”

“Roberto did a ter­rific job of assisting our young Latin players in not only learning Eng­lish, but also in preparing them for the Amer­ican cul­ture once they got to the States,” said Eddie Romero, the Red Sox director of inter­na­tional scouting.

The inter­na­tional affairs major grew up in a Spanish-​​speaking home and cur­rently tutors stu­dents through the university’s Latino Stu­dent Cul­tural Center.

Both his work expe­ri­ence and cul­tural back­ground made him a great fit for the co-​​op, said Frank Gon­zalez, the senior inter­na­tional co-​​op coun­selor who placed Lavin.

“The academy was very inter­ested in having someone with a com­mand of the lan­guage and espe­cially a teaching men­tality,” Gon­zalez said, adding that the co-​​op posi­tion will be avail­able again this summer. “The stu­dent really had to put edu­ca­tion first, ahead of an interest in baseball.”

– by Casey Bayer

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