PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Nola's presence and message seemed particularly meaningful Wednesday morning at Hopkinson Elementary School."Our world is not a great place at times," he said.Nola hopes to change some of that, even just a little bit. He represented the Phillies at a Shred Hate anti-bullying event put on by
PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Nola's presence and message seemed particularly meaningful Wednesday morning at Hopkinson Elementary School.
"Our world is not a great place at times," he said.
Nola hopes to change some of that, even just a little bit. He represented the Phillies at a Shred Hate anti-bullying event put on by Major League Baseball, ESPN and X Games. The Shred Hate campaign "seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness." The program is running through 11 schools in the Philadelphia school district, but Hopkinson Elementary got the visit from Nola and the Phillies, which included broadcaster Tom McCarthy and the Phanatic, as well as Major League Baseball's vice president and special assistant to the Commissioner Billy Bean.
"What's the point of really being a bully?" Nola said. "The guys who really remember you on the team are the guys who are respectful and the guys who are your friends. They're not always going to remember what kind of game you pitched on March 28, 2000-and-whatever. People remember you as a person and as a player, what kind of teammate you were. That's the most important. I'm going to reach out to these kids and tell them to respect each other. It starts at a young age. The more you get comfortable with that, it goes a long way."
Bean said he wanted to bring a bullying prevention program to MLB's diversity conversations throughout baseball. He knows it can help, but he also knows the words from a revered professional athlete can resonate more, especially locally. It became evident when 400 kids in the school's auditorium erupted when McCarthy introduced Nola from the back of the room.
They had no idea Nola was coming.
"An active superstar player or players at the big league level, they're always going to have a bigger impact," Bean said.
Nola spoke to the kids. He played catch with a select few, and he signed autographs and took photos.
"We all need to respect each other and be friendly, because that's what we remember," Nola said. "We want as many friends as we can have."
For more information on the Shred Hate campaign, please visit www.mlb.com/shredhate.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.