Editor’s note: This article is from “The Voice,” the Observer’s student news section.

I have been a part of the Rio Rancho High School baseball program for almost three years now.

Baseball players participate in voluntary work for a Rio Rancho resident who needed help clearing his yard in October 2021. Courtesy of Ron Murphy

Rio Rancho baseball is known for being dominant year in and year out, typically being one of the top teams in the whole state. As a player for this program, I do take pride in that.

However, what I take the most pride in is the ways in which we help our community.

Just this year, the baseball program has helped multiple people clean the outside of their houses. This includes pulling weeds, sweeping driveways, moving rocks and whatever else people need from us.

Our head coach, Ron Murphy, always stresses the importance of community service. With all that emphasis on this area, I began to wonder why Coach feels so strongly about volunteering in the community.

I sat down with Coach Murphy one day after practice and asked him my questions. One of my biggest questions for Coach Murphy was why he chose to make volunteering such a big part of our program.

“I wanted our kids to be better all-around kids,” Murphy said, “not just on the baseball field, but in the community was important to me.”

As a player for this program, I feel like the community service we do makes us better people. It makes us more inclined to volunteer, not just with baseball but with other programs as well.

Community service gives us that compassion to see someone who needs help and to actually help him or her. Not only does it make us better people, but helping people also makes us closer as a team.

I asked Coach Murphy if he also thought it made us closer as a team and he fully agreed: “You help each other out, you do things for each other, so I think it makes us bond a lot better as a team. We go out; we work together; we sweat together; we pick up rakes; we help an older gentleman that might not be able to do anything himself. I think it makes us a better team, it makes us more bonded.”

We have no problem in baseball getting people to volunteer; it’s what we are taught to do from day one in the program. However, this is not the case in many programs around the city, state and even nation.

How do you get other sports programs involved in their communities?

“You gotta make it mandatory; you got to get your kids involved in community service,” Murphy stated, “and you got to tell them the importance of it.”

To Murphy, the most important thing you can do as a coach is teaching your players the value of service. He truly cares about his players, not just their performance on the field, but how they look off the field, too.

Coaches like him make great players into great people as well.

“If you’re a coach and you coach a team anywhere in this state at any level, and you’re not doing community service, I think you’re missing out on what coaching is about,” Murphy said. “Coaching isn’t about wins and losses; it’s about making our kids better all-around men for the rest of their lives.”