LANHAM – Isaiah Chambers could not contain his happiness after hanging up the phone.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore Baseball Head Coach Brian Hollamon delivered the news that Chambers will be the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Male Athlete of the Year, but the 21-year old senior could not tell anybody or post anything publicly until the official announcement was made the following day.
Chambers respected his manager’s request for a few moments as his younger brother Joshua entered the room.
“I told Joshua ‘Coach just called me and told me I won Man of the Year’ and all he could say was wow,” Chambers said. "When I got the call, it was all surreal, but he told me not to tell anybody until it goes public. But I called my parents and told them (anyways), and they were so happy.”
Twenty-four hours later, on June 11, as Chambers worked at a local summer camp, floods of congratulatory texts and Twitter messages filled his phone from members of the university student body and his teammates.
For the Bowie native, the recognition was a touching moment but not a primary goal.
In the age of increasing activism by professional athletes, Chambers joins a list of growing names who use their leadership roles and service work to voice concerns to improve their communities.
“I always like being active in my community and helping my school,” Chambers said. “I was always the person who wanted to do more as well as help others around me.”
Chambers becomes only the third male student-athletes honored in school history with the prize. He credits his parents, Kathy and Franklin, for his community-first mindset. As members of the Zion Church in Landover, Chambers was involved at an early age on with the youth ministry while participating in programs to feed the homeless and helping local shelters.
Once he arrived at Bishop McNamara High School and learned about a community service requirement for student-athletes, it became natural for him to go beyond the minimum standards needed to serve the community, Chambers said.
“At first, you think it is a lot of hours, but when you get to it, you realize that you are helping someone,” Chambers said. “It is less about getting hours and more about becoming a better person in your community because your community is what you make it. You don’t want others to talk bad about your community, so you build it up. All that starts from the ground up, and people will never talk bad about you.”
In spite of his grueling student-athlete schedule with practice, games, travel, and classes, Chambers became the model student on campus at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He quickly became the Chair of the Homecoming Steering Committee, vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and president of the Pi Epsilon Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
As part of these organizations and the baseball team, he participated in several fundraisers and training clinics at local elementary schools. From taking leadership in school governance and helping community service projects, Chambers fulfilled all his roles while being an integral part of the Hawks baseball and finishing his senior semester with a 3.6 grade-point-average.
“(Chambers) is just a good young man,” Hollamon said. “The best part about that is that he came in, worked hard and there were times that he missed some baseball things because of some community service things going on. But, he always put in the time and did well.”
Chambers excelled on the baseball field for McNamara. Playing at either second base or shortstop, he was part of a Mustangs team who went to back-to-back Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championship games in his sophomore and junior years.
During his senior year, he was named Mustangs MVP, leading the team in serval statistical categories, including batting average, on-base percentage, stolen bases and runs scored. After heavy recruitment by the Somerset County side, Chambers signed on to join University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2015 for his freshman season.
Chambers quickly became an effective utility player for the Hawks. In his final season, Chambers floated around the outfield before an injury kept him on second base for the rest of the year. He finished the year with 21 hits in 86 at-bats, driving in 11 runs and stole a career-best 10 bases.
His 10-game hitting streak at the end of the year became pivotal to help the Hawks earn a berth into the MEAC Championship in May.
“Those kinds of guys are invaluable,” Hollamon said of Chambers’ positioning flexibility. “Being able to do different things is great, and he never complained about anything he had to do, and that made it really easy for us.”
His overall work earned him several recognitions, including being named to the MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Team three years straight (2015-18) while winning the Diverse Issues in Higher Education Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award (2018).
Post-graduation, Chambers said that he is focused on finding work in teaching, mainly focused on special education, his major in college. Since working with special needs children at an early age, he decided to make it a mission to help make their educational experience an easier one.
While he never hit a home run in his career on the field, Chambers said he is positive he can now as an educator.
“I want to give back to the people who helped me get to where I am today,” Chambers said. “Those Teachers who helped me and my community, I now want to help them.”
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