When Francisco Lindor came to Florida’s Montverde Academy from Puerto Rico as an eighth grader, he thought he was too cool for school. Literally.
Lindor didn’t believe it was imperative for him to learn English. After all, his talent on the baseball field was all that mattered for him to reach his ultimate goal of playing in the Majors.
Shortly after arriving at Montverde Academy, he quickly realized just how important his English skills -- and his education as a whole -- would be for him.
“I was, in my mind, a cool kid that wasn't going to let anybody step on me, and I was going to do whatever it took to be a good baseball player,” Lindor said. “Then I soon realized that, to live where I was, I needed to learn the language. To order food, I needed to learn the language. To play the game that I loved the most, I needed to learn the language.
“Right then, education became first. There's this term called student-athlete. You’re a student first, then you become an athlete. They preach that a lot at Montverde.”
Wednesday, Lindor was part of a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event -- done virtually, of course -- as Montverde Academy opened “Lindor Hall,” its new Middle School building.
“We are extremely blessed, happy to forever have our last name at the school Montverde Academy, the school that saw me grow and helped me become a young man at such an early age,” Lindor said. “I'm honored to be able to do this. I believe education is the foundation of the future of every young man and young woman out there.”
The Mets shortstop donated $1 million toward the construction of the state-of-the-art building, which will serve 203 middle school students. He also established the Francisco Lindor Scholarship Fund, which will provide selected current and prospective students with financial assistance to attend the Academy.
“Ever since I began [as a] professional athlete, I've been giving back and always thinking about how I'm going to help the next generation,” Lindor said. “What am I going to do to help the people [who] have come behind me? This opportunity came up … I had to do it.”
The new two-story building has 38,894 square feet of academic space with 14 classrooms, three innovative science laboratories, a technology laboratory, conference room, study hall, teacher’s lounge and administrative space. An attached 12,711 square-foot gymnasium has an open floor plan and stage to provide dedicated space for physical education classes, sporting events and general activities, such as assemblies, dances and robotics competitions.
“Francisco’s gifts are of seismic importance to Montverde Academy,” said Dr. Kasey C. Kesselring, Montverde Academy Head of School. “Francisco Lindor made a mark on Montverde Academy as a student. He was special on the baseball field and in our community, with a tremendous work ethic, an infectious smile and grace towards others that we see continuing in his professional life. His donation sends a strong message to everyone that academics will always come first.”
Although the scholarship fund currently applies only to Montverde Academy, Lindor envisions the program growing to other areas in future years.
“It’s going to start here, but it’s not going to finish there,” Lindor said. “We want this to spread around the nation and around the world, because it is not just impacting the people in my communities. I want people that are just like I was -- somebody is trying to accomplish a goal and a dream, but with a great education foundation. That's the model.”