"Navigating the becoming of a young athlete, male or female, can be daunting. Everyday activities at school, at home, and in the community can be challenging and meeting the challenge can be difficult as an individual through physical, social, psychological and emotional development. The Highlanders do not solve an individual's problems and challenges but do something more important. They teach the individual athlete to respect him or herself, they teach the athlete to be reflective, they teach that winning and losing are not as important as the comptetive spirit and most important the Highlanders teach that there is value in smart hard work and each athlete should have strength and self-confidence to believe in him or herself."
August 26, 2012
Mark Alter, PhD
Professor of Educational Psychology
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
New York University
"There is plenty positives I can say about Highlander Training/Baseball Academy, but i cannot speak to what might be best for you. The one thing i can say is this: Highlander Academy is legitimate growth and development program that offers more quantity and quality of service per dollar than any comparable program out there." - Mr. Greco (2014)
Leadership by James Balardi (Highlander participant)
When I was a young boy, both my parents emphasized the true qualities that are required to be a leader. To be an effective leader, it does not depend upon your position in society or your economic status; rather, it focused more on a person wanting to set himself apart from the crowd, and doing the different things that others would not do. In order to make a difference, he would help a community as much as he could, and expect no recognition or reward for his deeds. Though I wished to be a leader, I was too naïve and timid to actually follow through on these qualities, and needed something or someone to change my mental outlook. The person who did was a man who I consider to be the ideal image of a leader – my baseball coach, Joseph Cisco.
Mr. Cisco became involved in baseball when his son, James, became interested in the sport. After helping his son become both a successful high school and college ballplayer, Joe recognized that it would be wrong to keep this precious information private. Joe began a weekend morning baseball clinic by himself, that would focus on baseball mechanics, physical fitness, and mental toughness. This program was offered to anyone who was willing to make the commitment and trust in his system, no matter race, background, or financial status. For those boys living predominantly in the Bronx and Westchester who desired to achieve success and a chance at becoming something great, Joe gave them a chance to better their lives through his program. Today, this program has flourished – reaching out to thousands of boys over the course of 15 years in an effort to create successful futures and leaders.
For me in particular, the most important aspect of this program has been the group conversations before beginning workouts. Each morning, Joe hands us a sheet of paper with advice concerning mental outlooks that create success in the real world as well as baseball. Because very few men can play Major League Baseball, they sometimes are forced to take jobs in the real world often for less than ideal wages if they have not worked hard on other aspects of their life. Joe emphasized that while these people would complain about how unfair their life is, things will not change for them as long as they do nothing but continue to complain. He explained that it is important to challenge yourself, exceed expectations, be a leader and make a difference. This is a life that I wish to lead.
Unlike many who would just offer an opinion and not live by it, Joe practices what he preaches. I recall my first day at his program as a nine year old, when I meekly attempted to give Joe a proper greeting. Joe squatted down in front of me, and said, “I am not going to leave you until you give me a firm handshake and scream at me to leave you alone.” Though I was at first quite skeptical, after I yelled at him and gave a firm handshake, Joe explained that this was the first step in being a leader. By stepping outside the boundaries of my comfort zone, I was taking charge of my identity. Today, I no longer am the shy nine year old who first entered Joe’s clinic. From speaking to underclassmen on how to succeed at Regis to mentoring youngsters in Joe’s clinics, to dancing with reckless abandon at the Regis dances when no one else dares to embarrass themselves, I try to be motivational and inspirational in my actions and words. Though many of my friends do question why I choose to act “in such a weird way”, I know in my heart that my actions are not “weird” – I am instead following my own path, and hopefully influencing others. I do not need my friends to tell me how to live my life, and I am comfortable knowing that my identity is unique, yet it is correct. However, my transition in character could not have been attained without the help of Joe Cisco, who, through word and deed, can be used as an object lesson. Joe has shown thousands of boys, myself included, how to be a true leader.
Letter From a Former Player
Joe, over the past 8 or so years, you broke me down pushed me and most
importantly taught me the most valuable thing I have now. That valuable
thing is my Pitching Mechanics. I can practically put my
fastball,curveball,and change-up anywhere I want. Most importantly I can do
it with confidence. My stats this year alone can show you how effective your
program is. Currently i am 4-0 with a 2.85 ERA 32K's and 24IP. I also
attached pictures of me pitching as an example for your upcomming younger
pitchers. Now that i think about it, it's very ironic im in this position
right now. I can remember me 15 years old reading a letter from Pete Parisi
basically explaning the same thing I am trying to say. After I read the
letter I personally thought that I couldent stand up to Pete or my brother.
Your exact words were " Ryan your so stupid, you got so much natural talent.
Give me your time and i guarante you, you'll be in college playing ball".
Look at me now. Your program taught me the main fundamentals of baseball.
Because of this, i got a 3/4th's scholarship to Rockland County College. I
am no where near at my peak and I kno personally you can get me to that next
level for college. That is why this fall/winter, i am dedicating as much
time as possible not only to pitch, but to get in physical shape for
college. I guess you can say im another one of your protege's. Im realli
looking foward to be getting more knowledge from you on the field and even
off the field. Im even more excited passing down my mechanic's and knowledge
down to younger ball players such as the highlander organization. Once again
here are some pics of me pitching and I hope, I for a change can be used as
2015 S.A.Y HIGHLANDER BASEBALL ACADEMY 16U WINS WESTCHESTER BASEALL ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONSHIP (16U W.B.A 2015 CHAMPIONS)
Highlander Training Academy
Bronx, New York 10461