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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Lipka knows joy of helping others

Jim Ecker        
Matt Lipka is a physically gifted athlete, big and strong and very fast. He excels in baseball and football, but he also takes great pleasure in working with kids who don't have some of his skills.

His mother, Jill, is a special education teacher in Texas, and Matt has willingly volunteered to help out with Special Olympics and other activities at the school.

"It's been humbling, to be able to work with someone and really make an impact on someone's life," he said. 'It's very rewarding."

Matt is a 6-foot-1 shortstop and pitcher from McKinney High School in Frisco, Texas. He said working with the Special Ed students has made him appreciate the gifts he has. "Absolutely," he said. "It makes you so grateful to know that you're truly blessed."

Matt's experiences with Special Ed students is one of the reasons he's excited about playing in the Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic at PETCO Park in San Diego on Aug. 16. He knows the rewards of helping others, and he'll have that chance in San Diego.

"I'm very honored by it. It's going to be a lot of fun," he said. "Not only just the baseball end, you also go and visit the sick children in the hospital and everything. And to be able to go there and play baseball, it's a great event."

The Aflac Classic has an ongoing commitment to fight childhood cancer, and all proceeds from the game will benefit Rady's Children Hospital in San Diego. The Aflac game has raised nearly $685,000 for charity since 2003.

Matt is a well-rounded student. He carries a 3.6 GPA and will play football again this fall as a senior, enjoying the change of season from baseball to football and then back again.

"I just think it's good to get my mind off baseball," he said. "It's almost like starting the baseball season fresh after a football season."

Matt has been clocked in 6.35 seconds in the 60-yard dash, and that great speed helps him excel as a wide receiver. He's been all-state in football and loves playing the game on Friday nights in Texas.

"Just the Friday night atmosphere, it draws me in," he said. "It's what you see on TV. It's comparable to the college football atmosphere."

Matt plans to play baseball in college, pending the 2010 draft, and is close to making a decision. His next stop will be San Diego for the Aflac game and a chance to visit those kids in the hospital.

"I'm very excited," he said.
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