|You get three strikes, then you’re out. Sometimes you have to sacrifice. The next pitch is the most important one. These three basic rules of baseball all translate into the following real life lessons: “Be conscious of your mistakes.” “You don’t always get what you want.” “Be fair to other people.” All are straightforward, pre-school concepts that are key elements in building respect and good character. “Baseball gives you tools for life,” said Derek Aucoin. And he speaks from experience.
Aucoin’s baseball career began in Boisbriand, in a small town north of Montreal, Canada, when he was just 6 years old. His passion grew from playing catch with his grandfather, Alfred Cockle. Aucoin then started to play for his country in several minor league teams before he finally ended up playing in the major leagues for his home team, the Montreal Expos. “How many people get to do this…to live out their dream? The odds of making it to the majors are low. And to make a career out of it is even more difficult. I knew I had to give back,” said Aucoin, the 6’7” ballplayer who delivered a fastball as a right-hander, #66.
As his professional baseball career came to an end, one thing that remained constant was his passion and commitment to the sport. In 2000, he built the Manhattan-based sports facility, The Baseball Center. His mission is to use the game of baseball to build leadership, confidence and self-esteem in “kids” of all ages.
“My responsibility is more than just to teach how to throw or hit a ball. It is how to be a good person, a good teammate. In baseball, like life, there are bad calls, bad decisions. But how do you react to these situations?,” Aucoin questioned. He believes baseball prepares people for many different types of life situations.
“Baseball is a game of failure – you fail seven out of ten tries. Three for ten makes you an All Star! That’s why at the Center, we use the 1,000 praise rule. We encourage players to try things in a different way or to think of things differently, and we never use negative dialogue,” he said. That’s the motivation that keeps players in the game.
This month, The Baseball Center celebrated its ten-year anniversary. Located at 202 West 74th St., near the Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the center offers “everything baseball” from casual and recreational programs to camps, parties, leagues, sports training, corporate team building, competitive coaching, and more. The center is bustling with activity and learning, both in sports and in academics.
“We encourage our players to get good grades, to stay in school, and to go to college,” said Aucoin. “This is why ‘Coach Derek’ had to go back. I could talk the talk but I couldn’t back it up. I didn’t have my degree.”
That’s when Aucoin found Empire State College. In 2009, he began his pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics in order to expand his knowledge in topics such as management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Helpful topics for every business person, they’ll assist Aucoin in attaining his ultimate goal, to impact and inspire young baseball players in the United States and across the world. Aucoin believes, “If you’re a winner in the sport of baseball, you’ll be a winner in the game of life.”