KISSIMMEE, Fla. (BP)–Houston Astros pitcher Andy Pettitte remembers the temptations he faced in high school, and he thinks teens today deal with even greater struggles.
“There’s no doubt they’re dealing with so much more peer pressure — drugs and alcohol,” Pettitte said. “It was there when I was in high school, but it’s getting worse and worse every year, I think.”
That’s one of the reasons why Pettitte, who is in Florida for spring training, teaches a Sunday School class for high school freshmen and sophomore boys at Central Baptist Church in Deer Park, Texas, during the off-season.
“I just believe it’s very important,” Pettitte said. “I grew up in the church. I was going to that church when I was 15 years old. I think the youth are very important and I want to be a positive influence on them.”
In addition to drugs and alcohol, Pettitte said that the rampant divorce rate is another issue confronting teens today.
“So many more families are ending up in divorce,” he said. “Most of these kids don’t have both parents, and it makes life tough. They’ve got a lot of hurts and a lot of heartaches they’re dealing with.”
A Texas native, Pettitte spent the first nine years of his career with the New York Yankees, where he compiled a 149-78 record and a 3.94 ERA. Often considered to be one of the best clutch pitchers in the game, Pettitte is 16-5 in postseason play.
This off-season, Pettitte left New York to sign with the Astros as a free agent. He cited his desire to be closer to his family as one of the main factors in his decision to take less money from Houston than the Yankees offered.
Pettitte hopes he can be a positive influence on the lives of the teenage boys he teaches in Sunday School.
“More than anything I’m trying to teach them that God’s there for them,” Pettitte said. “Life’s rough and life’s tough, but I’ve got tremendous faith in the Lord, and that’s what I’m trying to teach them. The Bible says that He’s going to be our best friend, and He’s going to be there for us whenever nobody else is. I’ve seen that in my own life, and that’s the word I’m trying to share with these kids.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ANDY PETTITTE.