Twins players highlight hard work during school visit


Students dressed in red, white and blue filed into the gym at Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis, eager to catch a glimpse of Minnesota Twins baseball players they usually see only on television. Sponsored by Mayo Clinic, the annual Twins Winter Caravan travels throughout Minnesota each offseason, giving fans a chance to meet players, coaches and broadcasters.

This year, Risen Christ was one of 40 stops included in the tour. Students enjoyed guest appearances from second baseman Brian Dozier, shortstop Eduardo Escobar, former outfielder Dan Gladden and mascot T.C. Bear. Miguel Ramos, director of diversity marketing, emceed.

“It’s pretty cool to have a good event like this,” said eighth-grader Ivan Hernandez. “We get to see somebody that’s famous. It’s really cool seeing somebody that represents our state and comes to our school.”

Risen Christ President Mike Rogers said the school’s connection with the Twins started in August 2015 when Ramos visited Risen Christ to designate the school as a diversity partner.

“He [Ramos] came out, and we gave him a tour, showed him around the building, talked about our program — the dual immersion program — and the population that we serve, and it just went from there,” Rogers said.

Risen Christ is the first Catholic school in Minnesota providing a quality dual language education to a diverse community of kindergarten through eighth-grade learners. Students develop full academic bi-literacy (Spanish and English) across all subjects through a culturally-rich, faith-based, values-based curriculum. When Escobar, a native Venezuelan, started speaking directly to the students in Spanish, their eyes lit up.

“Three-fourths of our students are native Spanish speakers, and 85 percent of them are Latino,” Rogers said. “So, for them to just be able to hear someone who is a role model, someone who’s a professional athlete, who came from Venezuela and can speak to them in their language is really important. It was really neat that they [the Minnesota Twins] had somebody who was of that same background who they could bring with them. And the fact that he [Escobar] spoke Spanish the whole time was terrific.”

Although soccer is the favorite sport of many students at Risen Christ, second-grader Anthony Yzaguirre said baseball was his second favorite, so he was excited about his surprise gift from the Twins.

“I had a baseball, and they signed it,” Yzaguirre said.

In addition to signing baseballs and giving Twins paraphernalia to students who asked questions, the Twins shared a few important life lessons.

“In order to be a professional baseball player, you have to work at it, and you’ve got to study it, and it’s similar to what happens in school if you want to be a good student. You have to work hard at it, you have to study, you need to listen to your teacher, just like the players get advice from their coaches,” Gladden said. “And I think that if you apply that and you really have the dream to be something special, I think that you can do that. I think that the sky’s the limit, especially at the age that you kids are at right now.”

Overall, Rogers said he was pleased with the event and the points the Twins emphasized in their discussion with students.

“They talked about winning a lot,” Rogers said, “but they also talked about hard work, and they talked about the importance of education. They talked about how for some kids, athletics can be a path to a good education — if they get a scholarship. I was really pleased with how they made it relevant to the kids and talked about the values that we try to instill in the kids at Risen Christ.”

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