March 06, 2014
LAWT Wire Services
The MLB Educational Development Program began when the Academy was found in 2006 as afterschool tutoring, mentoring, academic counseling and homework support for Academy members. In the last three years, the program has expanded to offer SAT and ACT preparation classes, credit-recovery opportunities, College Preparatory Checklist workshops, and Funding Your Education workshops that are designed to help the student-athlete navigate through difficult courses needed to get into college and be successful.
The program has had much success which validates the hard work done by the staff.
Dominic Smith came to the Academy at an early age with tremendous baseball potential, but in his own words, “school was not his favorite place to be.” After attending weekly mentoring, academic counseling, tutoring, SAT prep help, and credit recovery for two classes that he had failed, Smith scored a 1240 on the SAT, improved his grades and graduated from Serra High School in Gardena with a 3.2 GPA. Smith was offered and signed a full scholarship to play baseball at the University of Southern California. He was eventually selected 11th overall by the New York Mets in the first-year player draft and opted to play professional baseball at this time.
Juan Avena of Compton started at the Academy as a youth and was faced with daily challenges of living in the middle of gang territory. At age 11, Avena began working on his academic skills at the Academy daily and worked his way to star for the Compton College baseball team. His success on the field and inside the classroom has paid dividends. He was also drafted by the Mets (37th round) earlier this year. However, because he had improved so much academically, he was offered and has since accepted a full scholarship to attend Sterling College in Sterling, KS, choosing not to play professional baseball at this time.
The Mayfair High School baseball team from Lakewood completed a SAT prep course at the Academy in 2013. Their scores on the SAT were very high (averaging 1350) and head coach Joe Magnolia was extremely pleased with his players’ results.
In 2012, the Centennial High School baseball team from Compton attended the Academy for mentoring, homework support, and one-on-one tutoring on a weekly basis. Most of the players were doing so poorly in their classes that head Coach Gerald Pickens threatened to cancel the baseball season until their grades improved. After working hard at the Academy for several months, the players’ grades improved dramatically and the baseball season continued.
Also in 2012, the King Drew High School softball team from Los Angeles went through the MLB UYA mentoring and homework support program. Though these girls maintained excellent grades in their classes, they dedicated themselves to doing extra work while gaining weekly tutoring and homework support. Their hard work has paid off and several of the student-athletes are currently attending Division 1 colleges and playing softball on scholarships.