BOSTON – For many facing the monumental challenge of conquering addiction, the task can seem like trying to hit a 100 mile an hour fastball while blinded by a nasty center field glare.
It takes everything to eliminate the distraction just to give yourself the chance to hit the moving target, let alone read the seams on the ball.
That’s where Scott Strode comes in to lend a hand. I caught up with the 46-year-old self-made innovator following a 45-minute workout in various parts of Fenway Park’s outfield concourses, grandstands and the Green Monster catwalk, a workout that left him with a healthy, sweat-stained t-shirt that bore one simple message for all to see: SOBER.
Strode, who himself faced the demons and devastation of addiction, founded an organization in 2006 to help those facing the same dilemma. Now, 13 years later, The Phoenix has evolved into the leading national nonprofit organization that fosters a free, innovative sober active community for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder and those who choose to live a sober life.
The day after Labor Day, the 46-year-old Strode and his dedicated staff with The Phoenix celebrated National Recovery Month – and one year in Boston – with a special workout at Fenway Park. In partnership with the Boston Red Sox, The Phoenix hosted 25 participants, including 15 local first responders who won the chance to participate in this unique opportunity.
Through this partnership that was announced earlier in 2019, Strode is setting up his own team at The Phoenix to empower the Boston community and emphasize the importance of providing support to those in recovery.
“First of all it’s just amazing for The Phoenix to be partnered with the Red Sox, to be able to do a workout here in Fenway to kick off National Recovery Month and as a workout to honor first responders and the work they do to help save the lives of those struggling with addiction,” said Strode, who also serves as the organization’s Executive Director. “It’s a special thing for me.”
Strode made it very clear to me that what made the workout at Fenway so special is the support the Red Sox not only give to his staff and organization but those who struggle on a daily basis to survive and overcome.
“It’s really exciting to be partnered with the Red Sox because they just get how big this issue is in New England and how important it is for The Phoenix to be here and be available to Red Sox Nation and the folks who need our support,” Strode added.
“I made it through at a boxing gym that used be a half-mile from Fenway Park. There were some other sober guys in that boxing gym who got me into recovery. Now, I’m just doing that for others.”
Making it through the post-Labor Day workout was no walk in the park, either.
“It was tough. Lots of stairs but it was a lot of fun,” Strode said with a smile right behind Fenway’s historic center field flagpole. “To get to swing a kettle bell up here in Green Monster was pretty awesome.”
Since launching programs in Colorado in 2006, more than 32,000 people have walked through their doors nationally. By leveraging the intrinsic power of physical activity and social connection, participants build confidence and find the support they need to live productive and fulfilling lives in recovery.
“The Phoenix started in Colorado where I got sober. But for me, it’s like bringing the program home to Boston. We have a 12,000-square foot building down on Newmarket Square,” Strode said. “All of our programs are free to anyone who is 48 hours sober.”
Through Strode’s sweat and determination, The Phoenix has inspired more than 32,000 individuals across America to redefine recovery and help erase stigma. Through a unique model of leveraging physical activity and social connection, The Phoenix aims to help people heal from substance use disorder and thrive in recovery. All Phoenix classes are free of charge for anyone with a minimum 48 hours of continuous sobriety and led by peer instructors in recovery themselves. The Phoenix’s Boston flagship location is located at 54 Newmarket Square.
“Part of recovery is to be of service to others and working at The Phoenix just allows me to do that,” Strode added. “I just feel like getting into recovery is like getting out of a burning building. You have an obligation to help others get out.”
Phoenix events are free to anyone with at least 48 hours of continuous sobriety and instructors are in recovery themselves. With this peer-to-peer model and a culture that is welcoming, safe and supportive, Phoenix helps individuals rise from the ashes of addiction and pursue lives full of hope. For local Massachusetts programming in Boston, Lowell and Cape Cod follow them on Facebook or visit www.thephoenix.org for more information.