Chris Capuano told Action Team student volunteers from around the country that providing assistance to the less fortunate helps him put into context the professional pressures he faces as a pitcher in the Major Leagues.
“Volunteering gives you that perspective,” the Yankees left-hander told the Action Team Captains in the program’s April teleconference. “I know I am dealing with something tough right now but it’s nothing I can’t work through.”
Capuano had been competing for a spot in the Yankees’ rotation before pulling a hamstring in Spring Training. He was about to pitch in his first rehab assignment when he joined the Players Trust’s final Action Team call of the 2014-15 school-year.
The Action Team program is a nationwide high school volunteer initiative that sprang in 2003 from the partnership between the Players Trust and Volunteers of America. Working directly with Major League players, more than 500 high school students in over 100 schools are inspiring and training the next generation of volunteers as Action Team Captains.
Capuano was joined on the call by Action Team Scholarship recipients Nhu Truong of Bergenfield High School in New Jersey and Jonathan Ibanez of St. Anthony High School in Wailuku, Hawaii, who were among the 20 recipients of $2,000 scholarships awarded by the Players Trust recently in recognition of their dedication to community service.
Capuano talked about overcoming obstacles, sharing the way he goes about dealing with setbacks as a professional ballplayer. He has returned from two Tommy John surgeries and missed nearly three full seasons in 2002, 2008 and 2009.
“Life isn’t all smooth sailing and when you have obstacles you just have to come up with a plan, get organized and work past it,” he said.
Capuano, still on the disabled list at the time of the call, believes he has been able to persevere by having a good perspective and staying positive, qualities he has acquired through volunteering.
In January, Capuano participated in an indoor baseball clinic hosted by the Queens (NY) Vocational H.S. Action Team and had the opportunity to meet current and former Action Team Captains, whom he has come to know as “well-spoken, natural leaders” over the years he has participated in the program.
“I’m just really impressed that at a young age these kids have the perspective that they do, the leadership that they do, and the motivation to just get out there and just do what they’re doing,” he said.
Capuano also noted the significant work of Action Team Captains like Ibanez, Truong and the other high school volunteers participating in the monthly teleconference.
“Everyone on the call should just be really proud of yourselves and know that all Major Leaguers and I are really proud of the work you guys are doing and have been doing throughout the year.”
The Action Team Captains were also interested in hearing college advice from Capuano, who was valedictorian of his high school and a Phi Beta Kappa at Duke University.
Capuano placed emphasis on being well-rounded and organized, advising the volunteers to take time to make a plan every day.
“The skills that made them Action Team Captains and to have the initiative to go out and volunteer has obviously served them well,” Capuano said. “I think they are going to serve them well in college, whatever job they have and beyond.”
To listen to the Action Team April conference call featuring Chris Capuano, click here.