Baseball education: Mitch on the pitch in the 'Sha!

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For the past few years Mitch has been active in promoting his group, a baseball team, combining English and physical education in Changsha. Here he gives an interview to What's New in Changsha about his rocking baseball outfit!

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Do you run the baseball team alone?

Well, I'm Mitch and my baseball partner's name is Xiao Hui. We're both 26. Happy Start is in its 3rd year now so our team has grown significantly.

What's your background in baseball?

I have 20 years baseball experience. I played baseball for Curry College and Penn State club. Xiao Hui has 17 years experience or so and he played baseball in Beijing. Also, he worked with MLB of China for 3 years. He is the founder of Happy Start.

What exactly is 'Happy Start'?

So, we offer two 14-week courses per semester. One is an English and baseball course, which is about learning baseball and English simultaneously, and the other one is a purely Chinese course. We currently have one mixed group teaching kids from 4 years old to 15. There is no adult class yet but we will have one next semester in 2015. We meet every Sunday at our baseball ground from 2-4pm. If its raining we're at the same location but inside the gymnasium, so the weather is often no problem at all!

How about you? Why are you in Changsha?

OK, I'm a full time student at Hunan University. I am from Hamden, Connecticut. I'm studying Education. I teach both Chinese and English. On top of all of this, I have worked with children for over nine years. Eight years with the YMCA and four summers at the Hamden Parks and Recreation Summer Camp where I was a High Ropes Instructor.

What do you hope to achieve by teaching baseball with English?

Me and Xiaohui's goal is not only to work with the MLB of China on promoting baseball within China but also to stress to parents that baseball teaches rich, structured values in youths such as teamwork, obedience, fortitude, sportsmanship, patience, and qualities along those lines. When we put our lesson plans together we always remember to include one of these character building values.

What do you particularly like about Changsha?

I like Changsha because it has a good cultural mix between what was traditional China and what is today's modern China. A lot of Chinese people tell me that baseball will never be popular in Changsha, but XiaoHui is living proof that it can happen and most people from Changsha are adventurous enough to have a try and later tell me that they were wrong! Also, Changsha has a perfect annual climate for baseball. In America, baseball thrives in the south because of this.

Thanks Mitch and all the best!

You can find out more about baseball in Changsha, Mitch and the Happy Start organisation through the following channels:

Jinxing South Road, Yuelu, Changsha, Hunan, China: