Tommy Lasorda, considered one of the most successful managers in baseball history after leading the Dodgers to eight division titles and two World Series championships, scored a big hit with A.C. Stelle Middle School students last week. Lasorda delivered a powerful message to students about the value of hard work, respect and fulfilling their dreams, one step at a time.
Lasorda made good on a promise to visit the school after meeting A.C. Stelle students Emilio and Brando Valli, twin sons of Frankie Valli, the iconic lead singer of the 1960s Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons band (“Sherry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “Our Day Will Come”). Valli was being honored at an Italian American Foundation event in Washington, D.C. when his sons struck up a friendship with Lasorda, also a guest.
“They just really hit it off,” Valli said of his sons’ meeting with Lasorda. “They became great friends and really knocked me out of the park.”
Lasorda’s visit tied in with a school assembly kicking off a new good citizenship program called the Eagles Club.
To “make it in life” and reach your goals, Lasorda told students energy, determination and desire are necessary.
Dreams about passionate pursuits are the first step to reaching them, he said. Lasorda recalled a dream he had when he was 14 years old. He saw himself pitching for the New York Yankees in a dream.
“I didn’t want to leave the dream- it was so real,” Lasorda said. “Dreams become realities.”
Lasorda identified three types of people- those who make it happen, people who watch it happen and people who wonder what has happened, he said.
“You have to make it happen,” Lasorda said. “You have the opportunity to be anything you want.”
An acronym- COP- was offered to students by Lasorda. The letter C, he said, stands for “conversation.” He told students it was important to talk to parents, teachers, friends and acquaintances about their goals, fears and dreams. The letter O stands for “observation,” he said, an equally important quality to reaching one’s goals. The last letter, “P,” stands for “participation. Lasorda said participation is vital to reaching goals. To hammer the message home, Lasorda prompted the students to scream out the meaning of the acronym several times.
Lasorda also spoke to the youngsters about respect- for their parents and teachers. He reminded the children that they were very fortunate to live in such a nice area and attend such a great public school. “You owe your parents love and respect,” he said.
Teachers also deserve respect, Lasorda told students. “Teachers, in my estimate, are the unsung heroes of our community,” he said. “They are the ones who are really responsible for you. Education will open many doors to success. No one can take it from you.”
Lasorda also delivered an antidrug message to the students. “You have to say no to anybody who offers you illegal drugs,” he said. “Let those rats eat them themselves. All they will do is lead you down the path of destruction.”
“Mr. Lasorda my veins bleed dodger blue, too,” said sixthgrade student Alex Shapiro after the assembly.
“It was really cool,” said Adam Subit, 11. “I will always remember COP.”