Whitewater native and New York Yankees pitching prospect Ben Heller stopped by Lakeview Elementary, a school he used to attend, and spoke with students about the importance of persistence, striving for accuracy, thinking interdependently and remaining open to continuous learning. (Tom Ganser photo)

 

By Tom Ganser

Correspondent

Although the 2017 World Series ended on Nov. 1, the excitement of the 2017 Major League Baseball season continued for Lakeview Elementary students days later when a New York Yankee with Whitewater ties stopped by.

Just weeks after the Yankees American League Championship Series classic between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, Yankee pitching prospect Ben Heller, a former Lakeview student himself, made a surprise appearance at the school’s quarterly assembly celebrating student accomplishments.

The son of Lakeview’s fifth grade teacher Bonnie Heller, Ben attended Lakeview, and in 2009, he graduated from Whitewater High School where he still has the school record for saves. He also pitched two no-hitters and had a 1.14 ERA his senior year.

      After playing college baseball at Olivet Nazarene University and played for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the Northwoods League, he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 22nd round of the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft.

      In meeting with the students, Ben discussed the important roles that persistence, striving for accuracy, thinking interdependently and remaining open to continuous learning have played in his development as a professional baseball player.

Prior to the assembly, Ben signed bookmarks for all the students to remind them to use their Habits of Mind daily in school.

      Lakeview Principal David Brokopp said the four characteristics Ben described are among 14 “Habits of the Mind” that are a focus at the school this year.

      Habits of the Mind are dispositions that are skillfully and mindfully employed by characteristically intelligent, successful people when they are confronted with problems, the solutions to which are not immediately apparent.

Brokopp estimated that it takes about 80 years worth of Lakeview students before one of them makes it to the major leagues.

      On July 31, 2016, Cleveland traded him to the Yankees at Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. The Yankees called him up to the Major League roster that August 23 and he made his debut three days later against the Baltimore Orioles, pitching a scoreless eighth inning.

      Through the end of the 2017 season, Ben has appeared in 19 major league games.

      Ben and his wife Martha, who is now an eighth grade math teacher, met while attending Olivet Nazarene University. They now share a home in Brookfield.

     

     

 

 

 
 

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