The Next Step

Nate is taking an independent study course in college to prepare himself for entering the workforce.

Every word in that sentence is unbelievable. “Independent,” “study,” “college” and “workforce,” each one legitimately connected to “Nate?” Not sure I ever truly believed it would happen, but it’s what we’ve worked for and now, suddenly, we’re on the cusp of this next phase of Nate’s life.

Nate had done a job study during high school. He was accompanied by a coach who would oversee his behavior in an office setting. The office in question was the Bassett Healthcare print shop. It was a good fit for Nate, a place where he could use his computer skills to solid effect. The trick was making it work smoothly.

The first week, a one hour session, centered on getting Nate to observe rules of personal space. That was always a problem for him, particularly when he was younger. Nate had a friend in elementary/middle school, who always reminded him: “Personal space, Nate!” He still laughs about that today. The second week went a bit smoother. Nate was producing work though still needed little hints like “don’t pick your nose and then use the keyboard.” By his final week, Nate was churning out high quality material, meeting all his goals and teaching the people who did this for a living that there were shortcuts on the keyboard that would help them. He ended up with a glowing recommendation from his boss.

So, that’s one possibility for the future. Another is in his chosen major (well, chosen by us) of design. In his freshman year at SUNY-Cobleskill, Nate had a sans-serif worksheet. He had to create a design using only one letter. Thus, “The C Boy” was born. “C Boy” was a wonderfully drawn character and our friend Ben said we should make T-Shirts, which we did. The family has them, as does Ben, Nate’s aide Elise, and his adviser Professor Lauber. Here’s Nate, sporting his shirt rather nicely.

An idea that sprang forth was that Nate could design tees that could be sold via the Internet. He’d need a savvy business partner, and he may well have one. The independent study course has Nate planning ahead for his possible retail operation.

The Katz’ (sans Robbie) sat around dinner brainstorming with Nate. Since “C Boy” is so popular among those in the know, we thought of a series of 26 designs, one for each letter. The name of the enterprise: “Alpha Folks.” It came together nicely and, this weekend, Nate, on his own, started cranking out new figures. Some are beautifully obvious in design, others take a bit of looking to get what he was thinking. Those are like the faddish 3-D photos of a few years back that took intent staring before the image became clear.

Can he pull this off? I think he can. People have a penchant for buying items with their initials on it, and these shirts are unique, as is their creator.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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