Corona head baseball coach Dave Webb’s chance meeting with a young man last fall turned out to have an unexpected, and at the same time beneficial, impact, not only on Webb but on his players and the entire team as well. “Last fall, while working for USA Baseball,” Webb said,
“I met a young man who gave me an idea for a community project to bring unity to our Corona baseball team and impress upon them the notion of selflessness this spring.” Webb met Chase Jones, a promising baseball player at the University of North Carolina until he was diagnosed with a brain tumor his freshman year. Jones underwent chemotherapy and surgery.
He eventually beat his cancer, but his baseball career was over. Jones did not let it get him down and instead took his experience with cancer and his connection as a baseball player to another level. He started working with an organization called BaseBald, whose purpose was to help high school and college teams raise money for juvenile/pediatric cancer patients. The baseball players, after raising money, would then shave their heads to honor what juvenile cancer patients went through losing their hair to cancer treatment.
In January, Jones started his own organization, Vs Cancer, to promote the same goals, according to Webb. “Our team decided to participate in Vs Cancer and donate all of our proceeds to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” said Webb.“We chose to participate in this endeavor to teach our players here at Corona the value of “selflessness,” a concept we constantly talk about in our program.” “We started by setting up a donation website and encouraging people to donate money to help fight juvenile cancer,” said Webb. “Our initial goal was $2,000 but as of Feb. 24, we had already raised $3,224 for our cause.”
The team chose Feb. 16 to kick off its season and to have a mass head shaving event to honor the young and courageous kids who fight for their lives every day after being diagnosed with cancer. Every Corona player and coach participated, with a total of 72 heads shaved over home plate on Corona’s varsity baseball field. Professional hair stylists from Ace’s Barbershop and Salon not only volunteered their time and effort to the cause but closed their shop for the 3½ hours it took to shave everyone’s head on a Saturday afternoon, according to Webb.
What were the players’ reactions to having their heads shaved? “At first I was nervous and thought it was going to be a big deal to cut off all my hair,” said infielder Thomas Gordon. “But then I realized that cutting off my hair did not even compare to the struggles these kids have with cancer. I know my hair will grow back, but they don’t know what their future holds.” A company has offered to match the baseball team’s donations, so it is estimated that they will soon be sending Phoenix Children’s Hospital a check for more than $6,500.
An unexpected benefit of participating in a project similar to this is the impact it has on individual players and their way of thinking about life, said a player. “I learned that that most of us are so lucky to have our health and we should not take for granted the little things in life,” said right fielder Shawn Maloney. “I want to be more positive and try to help people in any way possible in the future.” “Being able to help kids with cancer by only having to do something so small as shaving our heads made us feel good,” said Josh Ethier. “Every day we take our hair for granted when some cancer victims may give anything to have their hair back.” “Participating in raising money for Vs Foundation made me learn that it’s not all about me, “ said Colby Hamilton. “It felt good to show support for the ones who need help.”
The impact a community service project can have on a team’s season is tremendous. “I think our team chemistry got stronger as we all got our hair cut together,” said first baseman Rick Riley. “It helped us kick off to our season united and got us pumped to do something together as a team.” “It’s like we all came together to and made a big commitment to support a single cause or goal and at the same time it brought our team closer together,” said Gordon. “We not only had a common goal to support Vs Cancer; we now have a common goal on the baseball field,” said Maloney.