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Actor, Broadcaster Shares Anti-Bullying Message With YMCA Campers
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:36AM / Wednesday, August 01, 2018
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The nonprofit Pitch In For Kids has an anti-bullying campaign headed by former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek.


Following his talk, Soares made sure to take the time to listen to the campers' own stories and answered their questions.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Wayne Soares' two favorite baseball players of all time certainly put up a good statistics. But, what makes them his favorites is the respect they showed to him.
 
"When they talk to you, they talk to you. They don't talk at you. If somebody is talking to you, they are respecting you. When they talk at you, they don't respect you. Remember, do not let anybody ever disrespect you, ever. I don't care who you are, where you live, the color of your skin, your nationality, nobody deserves to be disrespected," Soares said.
 
He is referring to David Ortiz and Derek Jeter. But as a child, he idolized Carl Yastrzemski. He remembered when his grandmother told him Yastrzemski was holding an autograph signing in downtown Boston and living in Falmouth, that wasn't too far. But, his grandmother got lost and when they arrived, the event had ended. He was told Yastrzemski was nearby at a restaurant.
 
Soares ran there and found the Hall-of-Famer sitting alone. He ran up and introduced himself and asked him how to hit a curveball. Yastrzemski yelled at him, "with a bat, kid!" 
 
The 11-year-old Soares was devastated.
 
On Tuesday, he asked Griffin, one of the 135 local children enrolled in the Berkshire Family YMCA's Camp Sumner program to start counting. Soares acted out a scenario in which Yastrzemski signed the autograph, asked him a question, and was nice. Fifteen seconds later, he asked Griffin to stop counting.
 
"Fifteen seconds to be nice someone, say something nice, be kind to somebody," Soares said.
 
Soares now represents another Red Sox great, Jason Varitek. The two are part of the nonprofit Pitching in for Kids. Soares and Varitek have a simple message, "be kind, always." Soares remembers being bullied as a child himself and shares an anti-bullying message through speaking engagements and events.
 
The YMCA brought Soares to its program at Berkshire Community College on Tuesday. The children from Grades 1through 5 all heard Soares' stories and were able to ask questions of the former ESPN radio broadcaster and actor. 
 
Soares started off with an inspiring story for those who may be bullied now. He said there was a young boy who loved basketball.
 
"He was bullied constantly in middle school, in junior high school. He had thick glasses, acne, and was very uncoordinated. All the bullies saw him and used to make his life miserable," Soares said.
 
But he looked forward to basketball. When junior varsity try-outs came, he worked hard but didn't make the team. The coach admired the boy's hard work and offered him a job as a team manager. But the boy turned it down. 
 
"He said, coach next year I am going to come back and make this team. I am going to work my behind off to make this team. The coach said good luck son," Soares said. "The coach forgot about the boy but the boy didn't forget about his promise. In the offseason, he worked hard every day. He jumped roped, he ran sprints, he did weights to get stronger, and he worked on his game. When try-outs came, that boy kept his promise. He worked really hard and improved himself. But he also grew six inches."
 
He not only made the team the following year, but made the varsity team, and then set a school record for scoring. He got a full college scholarship and then went to play professionally. Now, that boy is retired but boasts of winning six championships and is considered the greatest player of all time. That boy was Michael Jordan.
 

Soares is an actor, author, former ESPN radio broadcaster and an inspirational speaker. He works for Pitching In For Kids.
Soares told the campers to have confidence in themselves. He used to look in the mirror and reminded himself that he has talent and is a good person. He told the students not to let bullies "get inside your head." 
 
"You have to develop a game plan. What are you going to say to a bully? How are you going to react to a bully? And always makes sure that you have a safe place to go," Soares said.
 
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduate (and former iBerkshires columnist) urged the children to have confidence in their ability and talent.
 
And then he told another personal story. He remembered his sons wanted to go fishing but he didn't. He told them he had to work but the oldest one had already taken his daily planner and said he didn't have anything scheduled. Then he tried to send the children out to get worms. But, they were already a step ahead and had woken up at 5 that morning to collect worms. 
 
"Now I'm trapped. I have to go fishing it," Soares said.
 
He remembers is being a hot day. He had new shoes and didn't want to go near the water. He didn't want to be there. He fell asleep and when he woke up both children were off doing something else and not fishing. He yelled that's it, no more fishing. He went to grab the poles and all of a sudden a 9 1/2 pound bass was slashing around on the end of the line. 
 
"It was huge and we caught without even paying attention," Soares said.
 
He and his sons frantically grabbed nets and reeled it out of the water. They were all so excited. He was chest pumping his two sons the shore and hugging them. 
 
"I was angry, cranky, I was miserable. And we ended up having this awesome, awesome day," he said.
 
He remembers that and told the children that they always have the ability to make somebody else happy, to bring a smile to someone else's face. And he told the students to "always make time in life for things that are important."
 
And, don't allow somebody else to get bullied either.
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