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Wedge inspires youth

Former Cleveland Indians manager and Northrop graduate Eric Wedge gave an inspiring speech at the All-SAC high school baseball/softball banquet Thursday at the Johnny Appleseed Room.

With his former coach, Chris Stravreti, in attendance, Wedge talked to the individuals and teams honored by the conference in the annual luncheon, sponsored by the Wildcat baseball league.

Here are some snippets of Wedge's speech, which covered everything from his days in high school at Northrop, in college at Wichita State and to being the Indians manager, a position he was fired from last year.

"One of the dangers of being your age as student-athletes is that you think you are smarter than what you are, and I was right there with you. It is a dangerous time and an exciting time in of itself."

"There are things ahead of you is going to try you time and time again. It is nothing to be afraid of, but it is something you have to respect. There are certain things in my life that if I didn't make the right decision, I wouldn't be standing here today."

"I got fired last year, but I will manage again. I am here with you today because I made the conscious decision not to do anything this year. I wanted to be with my family and take a year off and regain that perspective."

"If you have to think about a decision; if it is yes or no, you don't do it. Because if it is right, you don't have to think about it. You just do it. But if you have to think about whether to do something or not, then shut it down."

"Professional athletics is fantastic. Unfortunately the only thing, the junk, you hear about is the horrible five percent of it. But I know a lot of people in all sports, professionally, and there a lot of good people. And the reason they are good people is because they had to make good decisions along the way, and they had to sacrifice and have the discipline to be the best they could be."

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my parents and Coach Stavreti and the other coaches. Now it is my job to help people. But the day I quit learning is the day I stop getting better, and I don't want to be around. That's what I strive for. Everyday, you either get better or you get worse. If you think you are staying the same, then you are getting worse."

"I have been all over this country, big cities and small cities, and Fort Wayne has a strong foundation. You have people who care about you in this city. You have a solid foundation with the school systems. You are in a position to succeed. The ball is in your court. In life, that's all you can ask."

"We need more leaders out there. You need to make a difference. That was the one thing I wanted to do I Cleveland. I wanted to leave the people in that organization better than how I found it. It didn't work out in the end, and it is a business, I understand that. But the people's lives that I touched, I know I made a positive difference in their lives. Ultimately, we didn't get it done, and we didn't win a World Championship. But that doesn't take away the impact that I had with the people there each and every day."

High School Sports Editor Greg Jones on prep sports.