A similar sentiment was delivered by one of the city’s most popular citizens inside the school’s cafeteria.
Kyle Schwarber, 28, a 2011 Middletown High School graduate who has fulfilled his dreams by earning millions playing Major League Baseball for seven seasons, talked to the students about having large aspirations and working hard to accomplish them.
He asked the students to complete three tasks: Love and respect each other, respect their teachers and love their families.
If they followed those rules they could “get to your dreams right away” he told the students.
Paula Eggebrecht, a success liaison at Wildwood, said having Schwarber speak to the students meant “the world” to them because it showed them that Middletown students are able to “be successful at whatever they want.”
Samantha Minges, 26, a first-year counselor at Wildwood, grew up near the Schwarber family. Her brother, Nick Streibick, and Schwarber are the same age. She said it’s important for students to see that someone who walked the same hallways as them can reach their dreams.
Mark Kerns, a retired Middletown High School teacher, has known the Schwarber family for about 20 years. He said it’s hard to look at Schwarber and not think about him being a 10-year-old boy playing baseball at Smith Park.
Success on the diamond, Kerns said, hasn’t changed Schwarber.
“He’s the same person he’s always been,” Kerns said as Schwarber signed autographs and posed for pictures. “He’s just a down-to-earth, hometown guy.”
Schwarber is spending this week speaking to all the students in the district’s seven elementary schools. He encouraged them to sign up for Middie Way Baseball, a first-year program that starts its Little League season this spring.
Going from elementary school to elementary school was the “most effective” way to reach all the students, he said.
Middie Way Baseball will be open to children in kindergarten through fifth grade and play its games at diamonds throughout the city, said Pastor Lamar Ferrell from Berachah Church.
Schwarber said he attached his name to the league because he understands the importance of youth sports.
After graduating from MHS, Schwarber played baseball at Indiana University for three seasons, then was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs. He skyrocketed through Chicago’s minor league system and joined the Major League team in 2015.
The next season, he played an integral part in the Cubs winning their first World Series.
Since then, he has played for the Nationals and Red Sox and in six postseasons during his seven-year career. He’s a free agent after signing a one-year, $10 million deal last year with Washington. He finished the 2021 season with 32 homers and career highs in hitting (.266) and OPS (.928).
Schwarber and his wife, Paige, are building a home in the area and Schwarber frequently lifts weights at the high school and takes batting practice at Barnitz Stadium.
This year, Schwarber’s No. 12 baseball jersey was retired and he’ll be inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame this spring.