HAINES CITY, FL - In the gym locker room at Boone Middle School in Haines City, professional baseball player, Matt Diaz spoke to a young audience that was captivated by his presence and his message.
Diaz, who plays for the Atlanta Braves, grew up in Polk County.
He visited the school on Wednesday to talk to kids for the Great American Teach-In.
He said he considers it is a chance for him to give back to the community.
"It's one of the reasons we stay in Polk County, to give back. Both my wife and I are extremely blessed. I learned to play baseball here and her mom is an educator in Polk,' Diaz said.
One youngster said he appreciated Diaz caring about him and his peers enough to come and speak at his school.
"It's nice to see how someone from the big leagues can come over here and tell us how its done and likes giving his time to us," Dylan Valence, a student at Boone Middle said.
Another student, Kervin Laguerre said that talking with someone from the big leagues who grew up in Polk county and went to grade school at Southwest in Lakeland is "a chance of a lifetime."
Diaz gave personal anecdotes about the choices he made in life and how they helped get him to where he is now.
"The reason I tell that story about me in 7th grade is to let them know the decision they make right now can effect the rest of their life in the negative way or in my case I ended up making a good decision in a positive way," Diaz said.
The students at Boone enjoyed talking to Diaz and some of them were even interested in being a professional baseball player, but Diaz hopes that his visit inspires youngsters to make better decisions and set high goals for themselves.
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