Today I took some of my 7th and 8th graders to compete in the First Lego League robotics competition at The Franklin Institute. There were 19 teams crammed into a small space and my team happened to be sharing a set of lunch tables with another team. Around three hours into the event, someone pointed how to me that the person I vaguely recognized was none other than former Philadelphia Philies Left Fielder Raul Ibanez.
While eating lunch I worked up the courage to speak to him, and just mentioned how amazing it was that he was at the event all day and how important it is for kids to know that careers in STEM fields are just as worthy as professional athletes. He commended me for all I do for my students and we parted ways. However, we continued to run into each other throughout the rest of the day and he even had his camcorder out, getting footage of his son's school. We had various little conversations the whole day and then spoke for about 5 minutes after it was all over and he told me that the greatest moment of the whole day wasn't when his son's team qualified for the next competition (sadly, we did not) but rather when my team was cheering for his team, they started cheering for us, and then we started cheering for the team we were competing with. It was amazing because it was obvious that he truly meant what he was saying and it was a really great way to cap off a disappointing end to the competition.
Awesomely, we won a first place trophy for Team Spirit and Core Values, which just makes everything he said that much more real. Anyway, I just wanted to share that I now have a new favorite former Phillie (move over Jim Thome).