Staying positive is key to success

Spring tends to appear out of nowhere. With the crack of a little league bat, the warm weather and its infinite insects erase all memory of a desolate winter. The swiftness of seasonal change can be jarring, so it’s important to remain calm and laid back.

Bayside Little League’s Ruaziaro DiBella is easygoing despite his team’s 0-4 start to the 2011 season. The 13-year-old pitcher with Covanta Energy takes the young season in stride and won’t sully the positive approach he carries to each game.

“We can’t have negativity. Not yet,” said DiBella. “No talking negatively and definitely watching each other’s back – that’s how you stop a losing streak. It’s hard when the season doesn’t start off right, but you have to stay calm. If you stay calm, you’ll start to make key plays in key spots.”

DiBella believes that the same approach must be taken into every game – no matter if your team is 0-4 or 4-0. Little league coaches and parents preach sportsmanship and teamwork, and DiBella believes that negativity is counterintuitive to the ideals of the sport.

“We learn a lot about being fair,” he said. “The coaches want us to be fair to the other team, and we take that and use it in school – but we also try to use it and be fair at home or with any random person.”

As a pitcher, DiBella controls the pace and sets the tone for the games that he starts. This allows him to slow things down and let the action come to him. It’s also important to pick other teammates up when they make a mistake or just can’t seem to get control of the game.

“I really love how in little league, teammates help each other play the game and to play it well. It’s really the best example of teamwork and sportsmanship,” he said. “The coaches teach about honesty and how we need to make it carry over into our everyday life.”

An eighth grader at M.S. 216 in Fresh Meadows, attentiveness and focus are also keys to success for DiBella. The kid has an overall average of 90, with averages of 85 in social studies, 90 in math, 91 in English and 97 in science – his favorite subject.

DiBella figures to continue pursuing science in high school and eventually in college. He holds interests in radiology, forensic science and archeology. “Law & Order” developed his interest in forensics and the fossil in his room signals his archeology aspirations.

“Science is just really interesting,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t really know how I’m able to do so well. When I’m working on school work, I just try to forget about everything else and just focus. The key to good grades is class participation and homework. Do well in those and you’ll be fine in class.”

Another class DiBella recently excelled in is an umpiring class. After taking some classes in a church basement, DiBella now umpires in games when he’s not playing. He’ll even go to random games, and will take over the job if the assigned umpire doesn’t show up. He decided to get into it because of the pay – $16 per game – but he’s actually found that being an umpire affords ballplayers a glimpse into the other side of the plate.

“You see the game from a very different angle as an umpire,” said DiBella, adding that the umpire’s perspective has helped him to further understand balls and strikes.

He wasn’t the only younger person in the class, and he thinks he knows why.

“There are a lot of 13-year-olds in the [umpire] class,” he said. “I guess they’re all in it for the money. But the younger umps are better than the older umps. Older umps get lazy.”

While he doesn’t have a signature out call yet, DiBella said he is working on it. And although he tries to avoid it, he said he gets hit with the ball at least once per game.

It’s just a small price to pay for a mound of perspective.

“Baseball has turns for each side,” he said. “Everyone has the chance to show off and do something good, yet there is also room for mistakes.”


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