Ricky Schwarz knows he got a lot from the Pop Warner and high school football programs. Now he's doing what he can to make sure others get the same.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
Ricky Schwarz wants to give back.
He played Pop Warner football for the Ormond Beach Sandcrabs and then played for Marc Beach at Seabreeze High School.
He earned a scholarship to Western Carolina University to play football for the Catamounts, where he also majored in entrepreneurship. He returned to the area after college and took a sales job at Brown & Brown Insurance. And he joined the Pop Warner football coaching staff.
"If we didn’t have Pop Warner in this town, I don’t know if I would’ve played in high school, and I don’t know if I would’ve had the opportunity to play in college and meet the people I met,” Schwarz said. "It basically helped me pay for my school. And I feel like if I can help one kid get on the right path, then I’ve done my part.”
Schwarz has a lot he can teach his players about adversity and self-determination.
He played college football, even though there were people who doubted him.
“Going through the recruiting process in high school, everyone told me I was too small,” Schwarz said. “But I went on to start for three years and play on special teams as a freshman and even get significant playing time on defense.”
But as much as Schwarz wants to help the young players he works with every day in practice, he can’t help but see some personal benefit.
Schwarz said coaching and being around football has helped him cope with the fact that this is the first fall he hasn’t been playing football since he can remember.
But on top of that, the Pop Warner program is again making him better.
"I'm learning from (the players) because I’m going back to try and think how I learned at that level,” Schwarz said. “I'm still in the college mindset. … I have to go back and think, ‘How can I relate this to them?’ I know it will get easier to relate to them the longer I coach.”
Last week I wrote about youth sports in Ormond Beach. That's the value of these programs: They make people like Ricky Schwarz want to give back.