Chris Schwarz Remembered With a Jersey Retirement

By Daniel Navarro, Sports Editor

Chris Schwarz left a legacy not only in the classrooms of Niles West but on the baseball field. His impact on his former teams and the people around him will forever be remembered. After a long coaching career here at Niles West, his jersey number, 19, was retired and entered into Niles West’s athletic history during an event that took place on Saturday morning, April 23.

Senior Matthew Eischen, who played for Schwarz as a freshman, recalled Coach Schwarz’s respect and personal accountability, on and off the field.

“He was able to run a no-nonsense team, while also keeping the game fun. He prioritized fairness and accountability above all else, on the field, and in day to day life. It wasn’t the end result he was concerned about but the path you took to get there,” Eischen said.

World Series champion and alumnus of Niles West George Kontos remembers Schwarz through the life lessons he was taught through the sport both loved, baseball.

“The greatest thing about Coach Schwarz is he wanted to win, but he was also trying to teach all of us what it was like to be a good competitor and a good sportsman. He taught all of us some very important things about life through baseball,” Kontos said.

When asked about any special memories or encounters with Schwarz, Kontos instantly chose a moment he’ll never forget.

“We were at Maine South and my elbow was barking a little bit, it had some tendinitis in it and it was aching, and we walked back to the bus together and I told him that my arm was in pain. He told me, ‘you need to take some time off and you need to rehab because your talent is gonna have you pitching through college, so you’re gonna have to make sure you stay healthy,” Kontos said. “That conversation was the first time I ever thought baseball was something that could be in my future past high school. It had an effect on me that if I work really hard at this I can maybe go play at the next level, which was college. That really stemmed from my conversation with coach Schwarz that day,” Kontos continued.

Schwarz was able to inspire and drive a work ethic into Kontos at a young age that would eventually make him one of the greatest athletes to ever walk the halls of Niles West.

Current varsity baseball head coach, former colleague and friend of Schwarz Mitchell Stern noted the impact Schwarz had on the baseball program here at West.

“It’s really more for the program because of what the man has meant to baseball at Niles West. He coached 14 year old boys for 30 years on how to play one of the greatest games of all time. It wasn’t so much about how to hit, catch, or throw, it was about how to play the game the right way and he’s the reason why we play this way,” Stern said.

Schwarz’s jersey will be framed by the entrance doors of the contest gym for everyone to see. The impact he had on Niles West baseball will never be forgotten.