Canaan Smith, now playing for the Yankess, was once a bright and hopeful young highschool student.
In those early days, he fantasized about following in the footsteps of his idols, playing in the big leagues, and hitting massive homeruns inside stadiums filled with fans.
Before he could achieve those lofty goals however, he first had to push through and overcome a few obstacles to playing college ball. While he was an incredible player and had already received a scholarship to play for the University of Arkansas, he wouldn't be able to continue if he didn't get his grades up.
Despite doing well in other areas, his difficulty with high school math was bringing bown both his math and his science grades.
If he wanted to follow his dreams, he was going to have to work hard and push through his mathematical obstacles.
Dad — and Mathnasium — to the Rescue
Maada, Canaan's father and number one fan, knew they needed to find help outside of school.
“He needed someplace where he could learn math, not just get through homework,” said Maada. “To go back, create a foundation and build upon that foundation. A private tutor is hard to schedule. I saw Mathnasium of Rockwall and talked to them. They’re great people, super nice and helpful, and actually what I was looking for.”
After taking an assessment at the Mathnasium of Rockwall, they determined his understanding of math was operating at a 9th grade level. Maada and Mathnasium worked out a plan where Canaan would be able to come 3 to 5 times a week, weaving math practice in between his packed schedule of school, weight training, and baseball practice.
From Concerned to Confident
Being one of the older students in the center was initially a blow to Canaan's ego.
“I was a little embarrassed at first, because I was a big dude, committed to playing for Arkansas, and saw a lot of little kids in the center,” said Canaan. “When I saw an 8th or 9th grader understanding things that I didn’t, or a 2nd grader who did amazing times tables, it just stunned me. But I was there to work, and after a while I didn’t feel like that at all.”
“They did things to build him back up to his grade level,” recalled Maada. “The best part? The people at Rockwall would email his teacher, and she would tell them exactly what lessons he was doing in class, so they would be step-for-step in stride.”
It demanded several months of hard work, but Canaan improved at a rapid pace.
“Asking questions, working in unison with Mathnasium and his teacher, communicating constantly about what’s been done and the concepts he needed to comprehend… He just skyrocketed,” his father said. “He has confidence about himself now.”
In order to avoid being redshirted, University of Arkansas also required Canaan to reach a certain ACT score. Because of his work with Mathnasium, he scored two points over what he needed.
Fast forward to the end of his senior year, and Canaan was faced with a difficult decision to make. The Yankees presented him with an offer to play for one of their minor teams in Tampa. After being set on playing for Arkansas in college, he now had to choose between college and jumping directly into the professional baseball world.
When the Yankees mentioned they would pay for his tuition if he decided to go back to college, as well as offered a signing bonus of $497,500, his decision was made.
After playing for a short while in Tampa, he transferred to a minor league team in Staten Island, New York, where he is today. He currently lives in an apartment where his high school math skills still come in handy as he manages his finances and works on improving his average. His batting average, that is.
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