Visiting speaker encourages Bath students to use their “at bat”

Jerry Ackerman, a speaker who visited Bath County Schools last week challenged students to stretch themselves in a variety of ways. Whether it was choosing to stand up to bullying, or to make the best use of their own gifts, he spoke directly and firmly, without shying from complications social media throws into growing up today. At Bath County high school he asked 8th through 12th graders what they’re doing with their “at bat”.

“What are you doing with your ‘at bat”?” Obviously it’s a baseball term. You’re up to the plate; you have an ‘at bat’. The truth is you and I- you got one life. You got one life; that’s all you got, and I want to know what you’re really doing with that ‘at bat’.”

Without any disrespect for the students who play a sport every season, go to band competitions on weekends, get their homework, done and take part-time jobs, he continued,

“My fear is that there are a lot of students that are your age, and this is what they’re doing with their ‘at bat’. They’re going to school; then they’re going home, they’re grabbing a bag of Cheetos; they’re playing Call of Duty ‘til 2 in the morning. . . .

Or four in the morning. Yes, I get it.”

The number of different social media platforms kids try out, adopt, drop, pick-up again, or decide are totally irrelevant is significant. Yet an ancient and ongoing teenage need remains connecting with peers, so expecting those to fade in importance is pretty unlikely.

Jerry continued,

“You look at Instagram Live; what are most people doing. Nothing. I mean most of what we’re doing, with our time, with our at bat, is not a whole lot.”

Ackerman, who had spoken earlier in the day at the two elementary schools, understands the importance of being developmentally appropriate with his audiences. Most high schoolers have either developed their own time-management styles by now, or may need to begin practicing. He used his son as an example of a then fourteen year old, who had not put much thought into the numbers of hours in a day.

“So I sat down, and I played this whole ‘What are you doing with you ‘at bat’ thing”.

I was like listen man, you’re blowing an awful lot of time, not like you’re a bad kid or anything, you’ve got tons of hours and I’m just calling you on it. What are you doing with that time? I didn’t really know if he’d do much with it at all”.

It turns out Jerry Junior was pretty motivated to make some money, and now is the neighborhood mogul of lawn mowing, and actually employs a couple of other teens too. It didn’t happen over night though, and as his father assured the Bath County teens, there were many hours of learning to service equipment, and growing a customer base.

“I know that most people that are out there, they got there because of their hard work. Let me tell you something about the speaking industry. From my best guess of my research there is a little less than fifty people that speak in the youth market like me full time in the entire country. Not a lot of us, but they do it full time. There are some speakers that are a WHOLE lot better than me, that never get a stage. There are some speakers that are a whole lot worse than me that are busier than I am. I think a lot of it comes down to what they’re doing with their ‘at bat’, how hard they’re working to hustle to get it.”

More inspiration is still available from Jerry Ackerman both online, and in possible future AMR news pieces.   Any adults who attended the “Parenting the Snapchat Generation” evening presentation, and would like to share what they learned, please contact me at


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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