Monday, August 13, 2012

Highlanders Train Future All Stars

By Deigo Mack

BRONX, NEW YORK, August 13- Recently, I had a chance to spend a day with Bronx Highlanders Baseball Academy (HBA) founder Joe Cisco Sr. After seeing his team in action, I came away impressed with a local sports program and recognized an undying dedication to Bronx youth.

In fact, for over 20 years, in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx, Coach Joe Cisco Sr. has built a baseball program with an emphasis on character and mental preparation rather than winning championships. Sound odd? Go figure.

Cisco explains “Winning isn’t everything because after you win a ballgame, it’s destined your going to lose one sooner or later. And then, what? Here at Highlander Baseball, we believe losing is more important than victories. Think about it. How else would we know our capabilities unless we lost a game or two? After that, you make adjustments and be thankful someone taught us our weak points.”

So regardless of the scoreboard, HBA remains a winner both on and off the field. The biggest example is Coach James Cisco Jr., the founders’ son, whom played baseball at Fordham University. Nowadays, the younger Cisco coaches the Highlander’s 17-year-old traveling team for his Dad, making HBA, a family affair.

Even players say the camaraderie is genuine. Talented St. Raymond’s High School pitcher Malik Dixon said, “I wouldn’t be the pitcher I am today without Highlander Baseball Academy and I owe it all to Coach Joe and his son.”

Even hard hitting third baseman Miles Semetis stated, “We learn so much about life from Coach Joe and Coach James, baseball becomes easier. They teach us about hard work, dedication and staying the course.”

For instance, it is common for HBA players to participate in off season training: batting cages, weight training, fielding instruction, and other developmental drills are worked on during winter months.

In the summer, it is baseball tournaments and high school showcases for HBA players. Their results speak for themselves. Highlander Baseball Academy is responsible for sending over 50 kids to college and minor league franchises since 1990.

Joe Sr. said, “I’m 64 years old. My son has energy to travel…I don’t. Plus, Junior knows the program inside out…he lived it. I enjoy watching him coach, he makes me so proud.”

Sitting in the dugout, Joe Jr. leads HBA into the future with designer shades on. He offers coded encouragement to his players between innings, which proves you’d have to be inside Bronx Highlanders Baseball Academy to understand its lingo.

But the day wouldn’t be complete without a last word from HBA founder, Joe Sr. who says “Remember winning isn’t everything, our goal is to get kids to college.”

Looking over numerous college scouts and press interviews of his players, it seems his formula is working. Training, Education and Exposure is Highlander’s motto.
It’s a job well done.

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