The Northview Wildcats baseball team, led by head coach Greg Szparka, won the state championship for the first time in school history.
This huge accomplishment was the result of the hard work of the athletes, the dedication of the coaches, and the support of the Sylvania community, and was well deserved according to Coach Szparka.
“I was 100 percent happy for the kids that were there that day. I was happy for the kids that I’ve been in charge of for the past 10 years.”
Szparka said that if it were not for the work of each of the previous years, their team would not have been able to accomplish as much as they did this season.
“They are as much a part of this as anyone else. […] It was a 10-year building program, those kids from the beginning setting standards.”
Szparka first started playing baseball as a kid with his family, following his two older brothers in the sport. Szparka, a Northview alumni, continued playing through his high school career and, despite the challenges, said that he “learned a lot and had a lot of fun.”
Immediately following his completion of high school, Szparka started coaching at Northview, starting his 20-year-long journey as a coach.
“I was going through school, and I could make it work with my work schedule, and I just kept doing it and doing it and fell more in love with it.”
Szparka eventually ended up starting his own business, Szparka Construction LLC, and, as a result, was able to set his own schedule so that he could continue coaching.
During his time with his kids on the team, Szparka’s main goal is to teach them valuable lessons about accountability and giving your all to something.
“Baseball talent doesn’t matter to me. We want kids that want to work hard [… and] want to believe in each other and work together. [… This] team cared about each other. They weren’t worried about themselves, they were worried about everybody else and the team doing well.”
The Northview Baseball team forms a close community. This community is one that is both a relaxed place where the fun of the game comes out, as well as one where dedication and hard work prevail to show that “teamwork works.” A vital part of the team, the parents work to support the team, as does the Sylvania community. In addition to send-offs, parades and rallies, Szparka has received many phone calls to congratulate the team. This support—a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Northview baseball team and the care of the baseball community—is, as Szparka said, “unbelievable.”
“We just try to help them and assist them [to] push them in the right direction, [to get] them to believe in themselves. […] I was happy to see the kids smiling and hugging each other—crying and being happy […] made it all worth it.”