Growing up in a family with strong Jamaican ties, Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie quickly learned the importance of family and role models. Triston, alongside his younger brother and parents, shared a Jamaican salt fish meal together as a family every Saturday. To this day, Triston does not take for granted his family’s tight bond and time spent together -- sometimes for salt fish and other times for big family decisions.
This past offseason, immediately following the conclusion of the lockout, Triston requested to dive back into his True2U Mentorship and player program. The 24-year-old is in his second year of mentoring eighth graders at Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Valley View Boys’ Leadership Academy. Triston met with his classroom of about 20 youths on Zoom multiple times throughout Spring Training and the start of the regular season. Finally, after an entirely remote 2021 mentorship and several remote mentorship sessions in 2022, Triston was able to visit the students in person at Valley View Boys’ Leadership Academy.
Throughout the course of the program, Triston has highlighted Jackie Robinson’s influence on Major League Baseball and specifically on his career and own opportunity in baseball. Triston shared with students his path to the Major Leagues and talked at length about his decision-making process to get to this point in his career. His parents, he told them, were a huge part of his decisions throughout high school. Triston’s nickname, “Dr. Sticks,” stemmed from his desire to become a doctor as well as his tall, thin stature on the baseball diamond in high school. His aspirations to become a doctor, he said, naturally came from his mom’s influence as a very successful nurse.
Triston later hosted his class at Progressive Field for a pizza party and a day baseball game. He met with his class in the stands before the game and talked to them about his day-to-day routine at his workplace, his goals for the season and for the game that day. The group then had the chance to be the “Play Ball Kids” with Triston and be featured on the scoreboard prior to the game.
Triston thrives in the community with groups he meets with on a reoccurring basis. He enjoys having the chance to interact with those same youth again in the future. When he has downtime, he continues to visit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio named Triston their 2022 Race for Kids Ambassador in June. McKenzie attended the race and assisted in handing out awards following the race. He took the microphone and offered some congratulatory messages and high fives to the participants who took part in the event at the Cleveland Zoo.
Triston continues to look up to his parents, Shereene and Stain, and he always seeks his family’s input when it is time to make a big decision. This togetherness, this family bond, he says, is something he wants to bring to the youth in Cleveland. The Valley View Boys’ Leadership Academy eighth-grade class has welcomed Triston into their family, and after much time spent discussing high school decision-making and career pathways, the students undoubtedly consider Triston one of their role models.