Science Leadership Academy: Practice at 26th and Morris
by Brian Torres
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.
In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Brian Torres walks us through the experience of going to practice.
It’s 3:05pm, the last period of the school day ends, and now it’s time to round up kids to go to practice. I’m on the SLA baseball team. The regular season starts in a few weeks and everyone is really trying to impress the coaches to give themselves a spot on the Varsity roster. I get on the bus with and if I’m able to find a seat, I sit and relax for the rest of the trip to practice. At this point I’ve been on the team long enough to know when to start getting ready to get off the bus at Morris. I hear on the bus, “Next stop, 23rd and Tasker,” and I start getting myself ready and let everyone else from the team know that 23rd and Morris is the next stop.
We get off the bus and this is where I really realize how bad of an area the practice field is at. I look around and see several abandoned buildings and just being there, you get this feeling that has you not wanting to be there alone. As we walk to the practice field, there always seems to be this large group of guys that seem to meet up and hang out about 2 blocks down the street from where we get off the bus. As I and what is usually about 10 or 11 other kids begin walking, we constantly look around at our surroundings to try and make sure we are safe.
Depending on how many kids actually come to practice, a small group usually splits off and goes to the corner store that we pass on the way to the field to grab some pre-practice snacks while the rest of us continue on our trip to the field. We get to the field and whether or not either of the coaches or other players got there before us, the first thing we do after we get our cleats on and get our gloves out is get warmed up.The faster we warm up, then we all know we’re practically guaranteed to leave practice a little bit earlier than the usual 6pm. Fast forward about 5-10 minutes and I’ve already gone through my normal stretching routine and have thrown for a few minutes with another teammate and this is where during the season, the varsity and junior varsity squads would split up and go to their respective spots on the field to get through practice.
As usual, I go through the motions getting ready for the next game trying my best to impress the coach so that I get at least a decent chance of playing in the next game. As we practice, occasionally and unfortunately it is becoming a bit more often but sometimes during random times during practice, we can hear gunshots that judging by the low amount of time before we see police cars zooming by with their sirens blaring are not even that far like it’s probably happening a few blocks down. Through all this, we continue on through practice with the sole purpose of doing whatever it is we can do to prepare for the next game that we play.
I look at my watch and the time is 6:00pm. I see the coaches starting to wrap up practice and I get into a circle with everyone on the team. This is where the coaches say what was good and bad about practice and then the team breaks up the practice. Now comes the ordeal of trying to get home safe. Since I happen to live all the way in Northeast Philadelphia, my only ways of getting home are, having one of my parents come to practice to take me straight home, getting a friend from the team to drive me back near school to Suburban or 30th Street Station where I can catch a train home, or catching a bus and a subway train to Suburban Station where I take a train back home. After that, the only thing left to do is go home and get ready for the next game.