Former Morgan State outfielder Damali Young stays busy for someone who just finished up her college career.
For the past four seasons, Young has been known as a focal piece of the Bears' squad. With her consistency at the plate -- she had a batting average of at least .327 for four seasons -- and her dedication to making the extra effort to make the big play, she played a vital role in turning a team that won just eight games from 2014-2016 into one of the top squads in the MEAC.
But when she wasn't sending pitches into the outfield at Lois T. Murray Field, Young was helping construct Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall, which will serve as a hub for student services at Morgan State. Young is a project engineer with Barton Marlow, the company in charge of the construction.
Young is still working on the project now; it is part of a path involving through community service that she has been on for most of her life.
"I definitely want to continue to help out Morgan State to give back," Young said. "Even when this project that I'm working on ends, I'm still going to be helping out at Morgan State."
After earning HBCU Division I Player of the Year honors -- she hit .350/.462/.564 as a senior in 2019 and led the Bears to 22 wins -- Young finished her career at Morgan State by receiving the MEAC Woman of the Year award. Along with her stellar on-the-field performance during the 2019 season, her selfless devotion to community service has given her a distinctive career with the Bears.
Head coach Larry Hineline said Young is an irreplaceable piece for the Morgan State team. The Bears won 73 games from 2017-2019 with Young playing a leading role.
"You don't replace her," Hineline said. "It's going to be difficult to find someone just to play her position."
Young's connection to community service goes almost as far back as her love for softball. The Westampton, N.J., native grew up less than two minutes away from an animal shelter that also served as a recreation center for disabled children. After days of visiting the shelter, she knew that "giving back was the only way for us to move forward as a race."
That involved offering her time, effort and even money, which can be hard to come by for a college student, at every possible opportunity.
"I'm the person that if I have five dollars, I'll give you 10," Young said. "I know the money is going somewhere that is going to need it a lot more than I do."
Hineline called those kinds of gestures "special," and said it points back to her upbringing.
"The money just wasn't as important to her," Hineline said. "Helping take care of other folks is something that she's really latched onto."
Young was involved in several volunteer organizations while attending Morgan State. She donated blood to Gift of Life; she gave money and toys to the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter; she helped restore a Harbor building in downtown Baltimore for inner-city children, and she is an advocate for Tiny Superheroes, which raises money for disabled children.
Young wants to be known as more than just a softball player, but she's been able to use her status as an athlete to make a deep impact on the people around her.
"We see people in need, and we see a lot of opportunities," Young said of herself and her teammates. "Being a good athlete gives you some cool accolades but being the best person you can be and giving back to the people who need it is invaluable."
As Young continues to work on Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall, she is constantly approached by teammates and classmates about her progress and to tell her how beautiful the building is looking so far.
It's being a part of something that means so much to other people that makes Young proud.
"When I hear people taking pride in something that I'm a part of on the campus that got me this opportunity, it's something that is hard to describe," Young said.
Hineline believes Young was able to thrive in her desire to give back to Morgan State because of the positive direction the university has been headed during recent years.
"She fed off it," Hineline said. "You feel good about being with a winner. It's clear she took advantage of it and believes she can contribute to this good ship moving forward."
Young will leave a legacy that includes her name all over the record books at Morgan State and a habit of thinking of others before herself. She currently holds 10 records for Morgan State softball, but she isn't even eager to see how long she can hold them.
Instead, she's more excited about seeing the next generation of player break them.
"I want to see another kid come up and do something better than I did," Young said. "So I'm hoping that I set a bar for Morgan State softball players to try to reach to show the world how the programs at Morgan State have gotten so much better."
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Morgan State Athletics