A strong work ethic has been passed on from generation to generation in the Jaskolka family.
That characteristic has helped Warren Area High School senior pitcher Matt Jaskolka battle an arm injury that cut his junior season short.
"I wanted to make the most of my senior season," he said.
Warren senior Matt Jaskolka
He traveled twice a month from April through October to State College for rehabilitation with Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Director of Athletic Medicine at Penn State University.
Once cleared to throw in November, he kept training three times a week on top of his normal workouts.
"There are going to be obstacles in life," said his father, Darrell. "There are no shortcuts. Hard work does pay off."
Darrell recently sat Matt down to tell him how proud he was of how hard he's worked his way back.
"He's a very focused young man," said his father.
Matt spent his junior season pinch running or helping the team any way he could. It was tough, he said, even though he rooted for his teammates all the way to the District 10 final.
"He wants the ball in tight situations," said Darrell.
His goal was to contribute his senior season, and he's convinced it wouldn't be possible without going through everything he has to get back.
"You can put your head in your lap and say, why me, but there's a point in time where you just say, let's get going," said Matt. "I've been playing baseball ever since I can remember. It's just what I love to do."
A little "Q & A" with Matt Jaskolka:
Q: Who are your parents and siblings, what sports do you participate in, and any information you think we'd find useful?
A: My parents are Darrell and Julie Jaskolka. I have three siblings: Joanna, 23, Michael, 20, and Jennifer, 15.
I participate in baseball for the high school team and also a travel team called Southern Tier Stars located in New York in the summer with a good portion of the team being from Warren as well as other kids from around New York.
Q: You have battled through an arm issue. Tell me how you are doing now, and what kinds of steps and work did it take to get to where you are now?
A: I'm doing pretty well ever since my last injury, which cut last year's season short. I went through all spring and summer going up to a facility in Penn State for therapy - twice a month - which got to be a drag down the road.
After I got cleared around November, I was back at it again, going up to the facility (in Falconer, N.Y.) 2-3 times a week; I wanted to make the most of my senior season. For now, though,
I make sure I do my 15-to-20-minutes of running, stretching, and band work, ice twice a day for inflammation, and that usually does the trick.
Q: Have you always been a workout fiend, or does it specifically have to do with being a pitcher?
A: I would have to say yes. I remember waking up at 5:30 a.m. three days a week and having my dad drop Michael and me off at the high school to get our morning lifts in for the football team back when I was a freshman. That was the first time I had really experienced heavy lifting.
Now, for the off-season, when I'm not playing baseball, I make it down to the Y five times a week, make sure to never miss a lift, and always give everything I've got each and every time.
As far as incorporating pitching into lifting, I make sure to go a little harder on leg day as physically demanding as leg already is, to increase the strength in my legs which will allow for a better, stronger, push off of the mound.
Q: How long have you played baseball and is there any other sport that compares for you? What do you love most about it?
A: I can remember when I was playing in tee-ball and pitching machine, my dad and I would come home from a practice or game and we would go out on our street and draw a mound and a plate with sidewalk chalk and I would pitch to my dad. The only bad part was when I threw a wild pitch, I had to run and chase it down the road which was never fun. This is where my accuracy came from.
What I love most about pitching is the one-on-one battle I face when going up against an opposing batter. When facing a team's 3rd, 4th, and 5th hitters is when it is the most fun. Especially when you can make them look foolish is when it is even better. I remember during my perfect game against Girard last year when it was a 1-2 count and I threw a change-up right after I had thrown a fastball and the kid did this half awkward swing to end the inning and my catcher at the time, Andrew Bevevino, starts laughing and says to me, 'That kid back there whispered to himself, 'I have no idea what that was.'
Q: What other sports did you participate in, and what did you take out of the other sports you've played as you've grown up?
A: Beside baseball, as far as high school sports goes, I have also played football. During my younger years, though, I used to play soccer up at the fields in North Warren, and I also played basketball up through middle school. What I have taken from them is to always work as a team, because individual effort can only take you so far.
Q: What are you involved in outside of sports?
A: Outside of sports, I work at Kmart, I am an altar server at Saint Joseph's Church, student member of the School Improvement Team, and Senior Class Treasurer, as well as a member of the notorious Flannel Panel.
Q: What do you want to do after high school? College?
A: After high school, for my under graduate work, I am going to attend Bloomsburg University in the fall semester to major in Accounting.
After my four years there, I plan on going after my Master's Degree in Accounting, as well as doing all of the other required work to be able to sit for the CPA (certified public accountant) certification and to hopefully start working locally and eventually make my way and see where that takes me.
Q: Do you plan to play baseball after high school? How far do you want your baseball career to go?
A: Yes, I have already sat down and verbally committed to Bloomsburg's coaching staff and all that's left is to just sign the paperwork.
For how far I want my baseball career to go, I have the same dream as any other baseball player, and that is to go pro and play in the MLB some day. I am going to do everything in my power through my tenure at Bloomsburg to get better and better, and see where the my potential leads.
Q: Who or what inspires you, and why?
A: My inspiration would have to be my family, especially my father and my older brother Michael. My Mom and Dad played such a tremendous role in my life and have shaped me to be the young man that I am today.
My Dad has taught me to always give nothing but my best effort in absolutely everything that I do and to do it with class. As for my brother Mike, he is the one that really pushed me with lifting. He was the spark that got me to where I am today physically.
Our motto when we go to the weight room is simple, 'Shut up and Lift.'
Also, a day does not go by where I do not hear someone tell me, 'Hey! Your brother is freaking huge!' We have a really close relationship where we always mess around with one another and know exactly what to say to each other in any situation and that is really nice to have.
Q: What characteristics of Matt Jaskolka are you most proud of?
A: The characteristics that I am most proud of are my leadership, determination, and my work ethic.
Q: Tell me something not many know about you that you'd be willing to share.
A: The summer of 2011 during the week of July 17-23, I, as well as several other Warren kids, went to Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) for a business camp so to say. There were about 20 groups of about 17 kids all trying to win categories such as, top company, best marketing presentation, best financial presentation, and more. Well, our group won top company as well as best marketing presentation and was top runner up in every other category. Although it may seem kind of nerdy, it was by far the most fun I had had during a single summer. The relationships that were built during that week alone are some that I keep connected with through either Facebook or just texting.
Q: Tell me what your goals are, individually, and as a team, for this baseball season? Do seniors even think about being the first Warren team in over 30 years to win a District 10 title, or are you driven by other things?
A: My goal for this year's baseball season, individually, is to prove myself as a top pitcher throughout the district and obtain the award of region pitcher of the year or even make the all-district team.
As for a team, our goals going into this season are extremely high and we feel like we have what it takes to achieve them. Our goals are to first win each game, one at a time. Next, is to win the region. Third, take care of Prep like we did last year (big thanks to Eddie Dorunda for his dominate pitching performance) in playoffs or any other team that we may face for the District 10 title, and, lastly, make a run in states which I, as well as the whole team, feel like are achievable goals.
I would have to say, speaking for myself, that the idea of being the first Warren team in over 30 years to win a District 10 title doesn't cross our minds as much as the thought of this being our last season together and I would have to say that that is our motivation.
We have been playing with this same group since Minors and Majors and it is going to be a sad day when it is all said and done with.
Q: Tell me one question I forgot to ask, and then answer it.
A: What would you be doing with your time if not for baseball?
Snowboarding. If I had the time, and knew I was never going to get hurt, I would be up at Holiday Valley every weekend, all day, doing what I love to do just as much as baseball.