Name: Max Utsler
Occupation: Associate Professor, University of Kansas, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
You’re the curriculum committee chairman for our ACES Leadership Program. ACES, which stands for Achieving Character Enrichment for Success, is a mentoring program for 12-15 high school students that we’re launching in August. But you’ve been hearing about the foundation for the last year or so. What made you want to get involved, and to do so in such a big way?
Max Utsler: The combination of my understanding of the foundation objectives, my appreciation for the values of Dayton Moore, and my previous working relationship with foundation executive director Matt Fulks led me to think this would be an outstanding way to give back to the community I’ve lived in for the past 35 years.
What is your favorite aspect of what “C” You In The Major Leagues does?
MU: I clearly value the mentoring process. I have been so fortunate to have at least four great mentors at various stages of my life. Each influenced me in ways I probably don’t even understand. But, each also had a key role in helping me reach my career and life goals. I hope (and I think) I have been able to play a similar role for a number of my former students over the past 45 years.
Why is the work that CYITML does important in this community?
MU: I am especially impressed with the foundation’s desire to work with the young women and men in the community. While we all tout so many of the advantages today’s kids have, we often forget that they are also growing up in very complicated times where one small misstep can lead to a lifetime of problems. A significant part of the foundation’s work is designed to help develop those kids as current and future community leaders.
Unfortunately (to many), you’re a life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan. But you also spend a lot of time at Kauffman Stadium doing work for MLB. But we’ll still ask: what’s your favorite Royals memory?
MU: Let me mention I grew up in Central Illinois right in the heart of Cardinal/Cub country. At a very early age I had to choose my team. Fortunately, I chose the Cardinals, mostly because of Harry Caray, Jack Buck and Stan Musial. That was in 1955. I would like to remind my critics that in 1955 the Royals weren’t even born yet. My favorite Royals memory took place just a few weeks ago. I taught a class this spring called Spring Training With the Royals. Twelve of our top students took the class. They produced 35 profiles of Royals minor leaguers and built an interactive website. The highlight of the trip was spending our Spring Break at the Royals complex in Surprise, AZ. The students handled their work in a very professional way. I had expected that. What really impressed me was the quality character of the 35 young men we profiled. The Royals did no round up those players for us. Our reporters decided whom they want to profile. The Royals are clearly drafting for character and leadership, the very thing Dayton Moore wants to accomplish with the ACES Program.
Who was your hero growing up?
MU: Stan Musial, Kenny Boyer, Dick Groat, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock—all Cardinals
What’s most exciting to you about the upcoming ACES Leadership Program for 12-15 area high school students?
MU: This will be chance to work with a whole new group of students from many different cultures. It will be part of my post-graduate education. I am ready to learn.
What’s one thing you’d like people to know about “C” You In The Major Leagues?
MU: “C” You In The Major Leagues strives to provide hope and support to children and families as we use baseball to reach, teach, and develop future character-driven leaders” That is not an original idea. I lifted it from the foundation’s mission statement.