VISALIA, Calif. - Every week in partnership with the Tulare County Office of Education, we tell stories about South Valley students with character.
Baseball season is in full swing -- the smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of happy kids is in the air.
Earlier this month, 'Character Counts! Day' at the Visalia Rawhide Ballpark was a chance for kids with character from Tulare County Schools to attend a professional baseball game for free -- thanks to the sponsor of Will Tiesiera Ford and the Tulare County Office of Education.
And Visalia Rawhide players are hitting it out of the park, not only at the games, but also when it comes to character.
Taking time out of their busy game schedule to give back and visit local schools. This time, talking to high school baseball and softball players at Tulare Western High School.
"It's pretty cool to be a professional player and give back and see kids pursue their dreams," said Visalia Rawhide Baseball Player, Matt Jones. "It's more tangible for them if they see us here."
The kids were listening; picking up lessons learned from players they look up to.
"It showed me that hard work and leadership comes into play and you have to grid everyday for what you love," Megan Miller said, a Tulare Western High School softball player.
Tulare Western baseball player Matthew McPhetridge adds, "It's always important to be a good teammate. You always have to have the grid, the work ethic, and have it in your back pocket whenever you need it."
The students also learned listening to the professional baseball players talk that being a good athlete is only part of the job, more importantly...
"Being a good person in life," said Jake Barrett, a player with the Visalia Rawhide. "Respecting others goes a long way and being a good teammate."
During the campus visit, it wasn't just the high school students who walked away with a better understanding of life, but also the Visalia Rawhide players.
"Making sure the players acknowledge that they are role models, whether they want to be or not, whether they have noticed it or not," said Visalia Rawhide General Manager, Jennifer Reynolds. "These kids all look up to them and can learn from their experiences. They are passing that knowledge and expertise on to the next group."