a community engagement initiative of Momence CUSD #1
Momence senior CJ Wiechec is just weeks away from graduating high school. In May, he’ll close out one chapter and start another while retaining one of his life’s constants— baseball. The talented pitcher and shortstop anticipates playing for Triton College next season. He shares that he learned many life lessons on the baseball field.
By Barry Engelhardt
“It’s more of a mental game than a physical. You must have the approach; what you did during the last bat or threw as the last pitch doesn’t matter. It’s a new pitch. It’s a new at bat. The same with life and what you did yesterday. Try to be better the next day,” says CJ.
He adds, “Failing is as important as succeeding. You learn a lot through failure. You don’t study when you succeed. You study when you fail to learn why you failed. You can’t be scared to fail.”
CJ is short for Christopher Joseph, but he laughs and says he only hears his full name when his parents are mad. Family is essential to CJ. A middle child, he has an older sister who graduated from Momence in 2016 and a younger brother who is currently a sophomore. He describes his father as a hard worker and his mother as ‘my motivator and number one fan.’
CJ considers his mother an inspiration, sharing, “She’s a strong woman. She’s always been there for me. My Dad has always been there, but he had to work a lot, especially when I was young. My mom’s always been there for me, cooked me meals, made sure I studied.”
Upon graduating from Triad Community College, CJ anticipates transferring to a four-year college and earning his bachelor’s degree. He is currently undecided as to where he wants to go, but he plans to study business or engineering, attracted to the concept of being his own boss. A strong math student with a creative side, he’s also drawn to engineering.
An accomplished learner, two of CJ’s favorite teachers are Mrs. Debeck and Mrs. Boros, who teach AP Calculus and AP English, respectively. He considers math his strongest subject but doesn’t necessarily enjoy the act of reading or writing. Besides baseball, CJ also plays basketball and football. He enjoys being active and spending time with friends, two hobbies he combines by going with friends to the gym.
A lifetime resident of Momence, CJ appreciates the small-town feel, sharing that in the classroom and on the athletic field; it feels like family. He says, “Everyone knows one another. The people you’re friends with—that’s for-life relationships. We’re all so close. The teachers offer a lot of help, and they’re really close. They’re not just teachers; they’re really close to you and care about you.”
While CJ will start a new chapter of life next year when entering college, he will retain the life lessons he’s learned on the Momence baseball field and the life-long friends he’s gained along the way. While his teammates might change, how he shows up in the classroom and on the ball field will not. He’ll step onto the field as a lifetime member of the Momence family.
Failing is as important as succeeding. You learn a lot through failure.