My backyard

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Two parts baseball diamond, one part treehouse, a little picnic, and a slice of stickball. Add to the list a lot of yard work, and much of my portrait is complete. While many people build memories with their families and friends, learning life’s lessons around the kitchen table or in the family room playing games, I grew up in my backyard. My father taught me how to hold a baseball bat and catch a ball before I could talk. Together, we transformed a corner of our backyard into a baseball diamond complete with bases and batter’s box cutouts. Our “field” remains the place where neighborhood kids, young and old, gather to play. I share my love of the game with a motley crew of players of all ages. The variety of age and skill levels requires us to adapt the rules and speed of the game so no matter the age or skill, all can participate. Although the games can get intense, we are careful to prioritize everyone’s enjoyment over competition.

Sometimes we put away the bats and gloves and go old school. My uncle taught us how to play stickball with an old broom handle and a tennis ball. Less organized than other sports, we make up the rules with each game, or change them as we go. Our Labor Day weekend stickball tournament has become a favorite family tradition.Although most of my family is sports oriented, my older cousin has autism, and needs encouragement to participate. I have taken on the role of his buddy and work hard to convince him to join us. When he is with us, I organize fun events such as pig or around the world. I give him easy shots and extra chances to keep him interested, but where I most enjoyed spending time with him is in the treehouse located in the far outfield. Years ago, my sister and I discovered unused wood in our shed and decided to build a treehouse. We were allowed to build as high as we could carry the materials. With saws, hammers and nails scattered in the lawn, we resolved our arguments about design and who got to hammer the nails. After many bruised thumbs, the mismatched pieces of lumber and unsquare joints stands proud as a product of our creativity and collaboration. For those who choose not to climb trees, our yard hosts frequent picnics. Everyone is welcome and lasting relationships are formed.

The events usually end around the fire pit roasting marshmallows and making s’mores or with a moonlight game of manhunt or capture the flag. This magical yard does not come without maintenance. We have developed our backyard into a small sports complex. In addition to the baseball diamond, we have a playground area, and a field large enough to put up soccer nets or football pylons. Now my responsibility, I spend countless hours cutting the grass, and even create patterns in the grass similar to baseball stadiums. I meticulously edge the beds, pull weeds, and mulch, and I repair the fence and stain the playground swingset. With every hour I spend in my backyard, I demonstrate my pride in this meaningful setting. I honor the memories and lessons I have learned over the years, and set the stage for new ones to come.

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