Catholic Standard El Pregonero
Classifieds Buy Photos

Sportswriter David Aldridge offers mentoring advice to St. Anthony students

Growing up a four-minute drive from the Brookland school when he came to speak at a mentoring event Jan. 11, veteran sportswriter David Aldridge could be forgiven for feeling a bit nostalgic when he arrived at St. Anthony Catholic School in Northeast Washington.

But all good feelings aside, Aldridge stood before a couple dozen boys from the pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school, a handful of girls, other students and staff members to deliver a serious message: they are ultimately responsible for their actions and their fate. Not only that, but each one has to take account for how they feel about themselves.

“No one can make you feel inferior unless you let them,” Aldridge said, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, during his talk at the early January National Mentorship Month event sponsored by the Youth Leadership Foundation. A former sportswriter for The Washington Post, ESPN, and TNT, Aldridge now writes for The Athletic.

His speech, which appeared to be unscripted, provided a wellspring of ideas and advice for his audience. He encouraged them to be grateful for the modern conveniences and luxuries they enjoy, referring to investor Warren Buffett’s idea that modern Americans live at a greater standard of living than 99 percent of the world’s population that came before them. Aldridge pointed out that much of the world’s population through history, in fact, has not had access to air conditioning, heating, cars, boats, and other amenities many now enjoy. Modern medicine, he said, allows us to avoid much of the pain and suffering that previous generations had to bear.

In addition, Aldridge said that he’s learned that life rather than being determined by one or two big decisions that one makes, is a “series of small choices.” One day, it could mean taking out the trash or “spending time with grandma.” Another day, it could mean turning down a friend’s invitation to do something that could have bad consequences.

In playing sports, Aldridge encouraged the young boys and girls to celebrate their team’s successes and “put your arms around” teammates when they lose. “Most sports are about failure,” he added.

A voice of NBA 2K, a series of basketball simulation video games, Aldridge recalled at the beginning of his career being a 21-year old intern at The Washington Post, assigned to cover the Baltimore Orioles during a miserable season. He came to love the 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily grind he had to endure, once he accepted it and recognized that he was fortunate to be covering Major League Baseball at a relatively young age.

“I love writing. I love words,” said Aldridge, who is an alumnus of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland as well as American University, where he majored in history. He credited Michael Wilbon with serving as a mentor to him at The Washington Post, after Wilbon had begun serving on the staff there in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Aldridge has downshifted his career recently, since he recognized that his work was causing him to miss key aspects of his sons’ lives. He routinely attends School Without Walls baseball games, where one of his sons plays. Aldridge encouraged the parents present at the mentoring event to attend their children’s sports events because it sends an important message to the children about their importance.

Alex Price, a mentor through the Tenley Achievement Program (TAP) at St. Anthony, told the Catholic Standard that being a mentor has been very meaningful to him. Foday Kamara, the director of TAP, had played basketball with him in high school and invited him three years ago to mentor there. He participated in academic enrichment, character formation, and physical activities with the boys and other mentors in TAP. Over time, he found that he grew closer to the boys in the program and enjoyed engaging in other activities with them, such as playing basketball.

To conclude the event, Kamara presented Aldridge with a TAP pen and named him an honorary TAP mentor. TAP has a longstanding sister program through the YLF umbrella, PALS, which is active at St. Anthony and several Catholic schools in the city.