Mt. Olive Teen Competes For U.S. Baseball Team
By Jason Cohen
Mt. Olive resident Willie Schwarick is competing for the final cut for the 13 and under U.S. Baseball team in Cary, N.C., from Aug.11-Aug. 17. He will be representing the United States in the World Competition North East Region and the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series.
“I’m going to go down and play to my full potential and hope for my best,” said Schwarick, 13, who tried out for the team last year, but did not make it past the second round. “That made me want to work harder and make it all the way.”
In June, 60 kids competed in the first round of tryouts at Diamond Nation in Flemington and the regional round for New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey took place in PA. at the end of July.
After failing to advance last year, Schwarick was determined to make it to N.C. While he was a bit nervous because he was playing with kids he did not know, he left it all on the field and gave it 110 percent. In the two-day tryout, they played three games and he impressed the coaches, he said.
“I felt like I played well and I also got some feedback from my evaluators,” he said.
In PA., he was joined by his father Bill, who has been a role model in is life. He began playing baseball at the age of seven, and he and his dad would often throw the ball in the backyard, practice hitting and bond over America’s pastime.
On Aug.1, he received an email saying he was selected for the final round and has been on cloud nine since.
This is the hardest training he has ever done, he said. He has been riding his bike, working out, running and practicing with his dad. While he envisions the final round being a challenge, his mother, sister and grandparents- Norma and Paul Licitra, who is a former mayor of Mt. Olive, will be there to cheer him on.
“I’m super excited for him,” said his mother, Diane. “He does work very hard. I’ve really seen him grow as a player.”
Schwarick, who is a catcher, models his style after Atlanta Braves’ outfielder and former New York Yankee Nick Swisher. Swisher, like him, hustles and always puts in the extra effort. He plans to continue playing baseball through high school and college.
“I would love to keep playing baseball as long as I could,” he said.