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Becoming that someone: Clint Hurdle brings inspiring words to SFU

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Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle spoke to Saint Francis University about working through adversity and challenges in pursuing his journey of “becoming that someone” every day.

SFU’s Shields School of Business brought Hurdle to campus October 12 as the 2017 keynote speaker for the Dr. Zanzuccki Endowed Chair in Business Distinguished Speakers’ Lecture Series, which has featured more than 20 different speakers. This marks the first time a sports figure has spoken.

The purpose of the lecture series is “to create a vibrant, transformational student experience,” said Dr. Randy Frye, Dean of the Shields School of Business. Dr. Zanzuccki was a professor at SFU for 37 years. His volunteer work and other involvement with university spanned 69 years.

During his keynote address, Hurdle continually referred back to SFU’s branding phrase – become that someone. “Becoming that someone… there’s no finish line,” said Hurdle. “It’s one day at a time.”

Although Hurdle is mostly known for being a baseball coach, his early baseball career and personal challenges have helped shape him into the person he is today.

During the speech, which took place in a packed JFK Auditorium, Hurdle reminisced on his early baseball career, when he was a first-round draft pick for the Kansas City Royals in 1975. He declined both his acceptance into Harvard University and a scholarship opportunity to be a quarterback for the University of Miami so that he could ultimately pursue a baseball career.

Despite the excitement surrounding Hurdle’s career, he never lived up to the expectation of being the next Mickey Mantle. Even after being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 20 years old,  Hurdle saw his baseball l career end after one short decade.

Shortly after his retirement as an outfielder, Hurdle was offered a position as a hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies’ minor league team. After working his way up the ranks, he eventually became the manager of the Rockies.

Hurdle was able to successfully bring the team to its second play-off game in Rockies history, and he eventually led the team to the World Series in 2007.

In 2010, Hurdle was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he has remained the manager since. Recently, Hurdle signed a four-year extension with the team.

A man of faith, Hurdle believes that there is a reason that God wants him to remain in Pittsburgh.

“I’m going to be where my feet are,” Hurdle repeated many times throughout his speech.

His feet now rest at home, where he spends most of his time doing homework with his children, Madison and Christian. Because the Pirates did not make the playoffs this season, Hurdle is able to spend more time at home with his family.

To the surprise of many, Hurdle’s son Christian has no interest in playing baseball. His hobbies lie elsewhere, including karate and graphic design.

“He’s helping me become that someone,” said Hurdle of his son. “He takes me places I’ve never been.”

In a private meet-and-greet before the keynote speech, Hurdle labeled himself as a lifelong learner. His desire to learn stems from his family, where his daughter Madison is constantly teaching him something new every day. She has Prader-Willi Syndrome – a genetic disorder that can delay puberty and lead to constant hunger.

Hurdle said that Madison teaches him more about life than anyone else does. His smile lit up the whole room while telling stories about his daughter.

“To become that someone, I need to find a way to be of service to someone,” he said, “to pour back into a small-populated, highly leveraged, smart school.”

While speaking of being at Saint Francis University, Hurdle described it as being “like a gem.”

As to how the Pittsburgh Pirates and Saint Francis University are similar, there is a small market, but a big value, according to Hurdle.

“[Hurdle] is a perfect fit for the lecture series because he is a deep, reflective thinker about issues of leadership, management, teamwork, community, and overcoming adversity,” said Frye. “He is an authentic guy.”

Hurdle faced many challenges this year as the manager of the Pirates. Starling Marte was suspended for using steroids, Jung Ho Kang was arrested for DUI in South Korea and could not return to the United States and Jameson Taillon was diagnosed with cancer.

“You’re going to get challenges that are disguised opportunities,” Hurdle said.

Despite the difficult season Hurdle had, he said he is still proud to be a Pirate. He said that the name of the back of his jersey represents his mom, dad, wife and kids.

“I’m just a guy trying to figure things out,” Hurdle said. “I’m just trying to become that someone.”

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