Southborough’s Barnes and Framingham’s Mark Ruiz have a summer to remember in Dominican
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For two from area, an eye-opening trip
The entire experience, for both Matt Barnes of Southborough and Framingham teen Mark Ruiz, was unforgettable.
This summer, the two were among 20 youths performing community service and playing baseball in the Dominican Republic.
The ninth annual session of Lindos Sueños (“beautiful dreams’’), sponsored by the Boston Red Sox and JetBlue Airways, was held July 25 through Aug. 3.
Barnes and Ruiz were selected to be part of a 10-person American team that was paired with a similar number of Dominican participants.
The teens helped rebuild five homes in El Mamón de Guerra, a small village adjacent to the Boston baseball team’s Dominican Academy.
“The trip made me appreciate what I have, and it was great to see the smiles on the faces of the people we helped and to make a difference in their lives,’’ said Ruiz, a Framingham senior who plays football, basketball and baseball.
“Playing baseball there was a dream come true, and I’m still in contact with my teammates through Facebook.’’
Barnes, a senior captain-elect and a catcher on the baseball team at Algonquin Regional, said the group toured each house they repaired.
“The owners introduced themselves and their children,” he said. “We all formed a circle and bowed our heads and they said a prayer for us in Spanish. It was very moving.
“I didn’t know Mark before the trip, but it turned out he’s a friend of my cousin, Kendra McCormick, who’s a junior at Framingham High.’’
Mike Olano, director of the Lindos Sueños program, said Barnes and Ruiz were great representatives.
“It was a lot of fun to watch Matty catch,’’ he said. “Despite the differences in language, he was a leader, directing his team and guiding his pitchers.
“And Mark was an incredibly positive member of this year’s program,’’ Olano said. “No matter what your age, background or native language, he had a remarkable way to make all feel welcome. It was an invaluable trait.’’
Ruiz and Barnes played on professional-dimension fields at the Red Sox facility, and practiced and competed with three teams from neighboring towns and one from a Dominican baseball school.
“One team was from the town where we were helping rebuild, so that was special,’’ said Barnes, who gave one of the players his catcher’s mitt as a gift. “He was using a two-sizes-too-large first baseman’s mitt,’’ said Barnes. “I was thankful for the opportunity to do that, and the entire experience definitely changed my outlook on life.’’
Ruiz presented a batting glove and wrist band to one of his opponents, and a wooden bat to a Dominican teammate.
Their instructor was a former big-league outfielder, Jesus Alou, who is the director of the academy.
Alou, said Ruiz, “was great. He told me at batting practice to be thankful for the opportunity I have at home to attend school, have great friends, and have a meal on the table every night.’’
Ruiz is a third baseman and pitcher for the Flyers, and works as a summer counselor at the Ron Burton Training Village in Hubbardston.
Burton, who cofounded the Framingham Pop Warner football program, wore uniform number 22 with the Boston Patriots. Ruiz, who along with the other participants in Lindos Sueños was honored at Fenway Park late last month, wore the same number in the Dominican Republic in his honor.
This year’s program received materials for the home renovations through “100 Acts of Kindness,’’ part of the celebration of Fenway’s 100th anniversary season, and donors included New Balance (uniforms) and Stanley Tools.
Pepperell’s Kelley leads Fitchburg State
Pepperell’s Jamie Kelley, a senior captain on the field hockey squad at Fitchburg State University, is leading the Falcons by example this fall.
Kelley was first in team scoring with 6 goals and 4 assists — including two game-winners — and was closing in on the program’s career assist record.
A two-time Little East Conference third team pick, Kelley was the conference’s Player of the Week earlier this season.
She was also a Midland Wachusett League all-star in her days at North Middlesex Regional High.
“Jamie is quick with good stick skills and is definitely our offensive spark,’’ said head coach Beth Bacher, whose team was 4-2 going into Saturday’s game against Bridgewater State. “She’s just an excellent role model.’’
Bacher’s roster also includes junior Rebecca Bush (Littleton High), whose pair of goals included a game-winner, and two freshmen, Julia Gimenez of Framingham (Medway High), and Kelly Luttazi (Franklin High), a versatile player who earned a victory in goal.Continued...