St. Paul, Minnesota.
It doesn’t seem that long ago, but it began almost two generations ago in my hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota shortly after I completed my first year with the Padres in professional baseball. I had an urge to give something back to the community, probably because of my family upbringing, and simple appreciation for those who helped me chart success along the way.
What I shared with my friends and family back home was that I wanted to start a scholarship and recognition program for minority student athletes. They were all in. This was even before I created the framework for the Winfield Foundation. I started it with my own $1,000 from that first year salary of $15,000 to get it going. The dinner, the volunteerism, the contributions and participation from the community, and the dedication of family and friends who orchestrate the dinner every year since has keep it going.
On Sunday, June 7th at the Crown Plaza St. Paul Riverfront Hotel the 39th annual Awards Banquet takes place. The keynote speaker was friend, former 11-year NBA player and champion with the Bulls, University of Minnesota graduate and now Minneapolis Public Schools Director of Athletics, Trent Tucker. My man Trent will deliver a rousing, timely and motivational message to all in attendance; this I know because he created his own Trent Tucker University Scholars back in 2009.
The Awards represent the story of personal success—success motivated by a passion to achieve greatness and a desire to give back to the family and community. The Awards were created to encourage young people of color to not set limits and be all they can be. The Winfield Awards have benefitted more than 380 young college bound men and women to date. Every one of the young people from this crop of 10 finalists and the winners will attend colleges and universities this fall.
While the criteria for the Awards combine excellence in the classroom, varsity athletics, and community involvement, the Awards Committee’s primary concern is not the size of the awards themselves, but what the awards seek to accomplish. As our young people strive to become finalists, whether successful or not, they continue making strides towards maximizing their potential. In the process, they are making progress toward becoming motivated, contributing adults who will not only better themselves, but their families and community as well.