TIPP CITY — At a special appearance at Tippecanoe Middle School on Friday, current and former Cincinnati Reds players, broadcasters and management advised students to follow their dreams.
The middle school was chosen as one of four private stops on the Reds Caravan tour thanks to an essay written by Assistant Principal Clay Lavercomb, a self-described Reds fanatic.
Broadcasters Jeff Brantley and Jim Day, pitcher Amir Garret, minor league player Tyler Stephenson, retired player Todd Benzinger and general manager Dick Williams and mascot Rosie Red made an appearance at the school.
A handful of students had the opportunity to meet the caravan before a question and answer session with the whole school. Students asked the panel for advice and for stories about their careers in baseball and more during the assembly.
Seventh grader Ray Perrault asked the panel what advice they’d give to the 600 students assembled.
Williams, who became the team’s general manager in 2016, advised students to have goals, but to always keep their options open and explore new opportunities.
“You have plenty of time,” he said.
He added that they should always take the opportunity to try new things, pointing out that pitcher Amir Garrett played basketball, not baseball, in high school.
Garrett himself reminded students, no matter what goals they pursue in life, that they are important. Stephenson encouraged them to be the best people they can be.
Benzinger told students to learn from their failures and mistakes.
“Everything that happens to you, bad or good, turn it into a positive,” he said.
Asked what has been the toughest part of his career, Garrett told students that he struggled to find his way in the major leagues last year.
“There’s always going to be success and struggles, but you have to overcome those things,” he said.
Lavercomb’s winning essay outlined the school’s pillars of respect, responsibility and integrity, as well as his love of baseball and the Cincinnati Reds.
“I’ve been a Reds fan my entire life. The earliest game I can remember was with my dad in the late ’80s. We sat in the green seat at Riverfront Stadium and they played the Chicago Cubs — I don’t remember who won,” he recalled.
Lavercomb said he hopes the kids take home the message about how important their choices are, pointing out a comment from Day about being responsible on social media.
“The responses from the players were fantastic. That impressed me,” he said. “If it impacted just one of 600 kids, then it was a success.”
Brantley said the event was a great opportunity to meet young fans and to get kids excited about baseball.
“Baseball spring training is coming up right around the corner,” he said. “This is where the kids are. You want to be able to interact with the kids, and let’s face it, kids grow up. They’re going to have kids of their own and we’d like for them to have a basis in their hearts of being Reds fans and that’s why we’re here.”
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