Favorite athlete: Ernie Davis
Favorite team: Philadelphia Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: Beating Neshaminy in football my junior year.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Tripping on a scoop and score against Truman
Music on playlist: I enjoy listening to ASAP Rocky and Rod Wave
Future plans: Playing football and baseball at Lycoming University
Words to live by: “Win or lose, give 100 percent, no matter what.”
One goal before turning 30: Have a sustainable job and coaching some kind of sports team.
One thing people don’t know about me: I’m very aggressive on the field, but I will always treat people with respect off it.”
By Mary Jane Souder
Jake Schilling, according to coach Dan McShane, is a ‘classic Pennsbury kid.’
“He just loves playing, whether it’s football, baseball or checkers,” the Pennsbury football coach said. “He just loves competing.
“He’s a great teammate, he wants to see his teammates as successful as he is. He has the time management that comes with playing multiple sports, and he’s going to do that in college, which is awesome. The other night watching a basketball game – they said one of the guys turned from a shooter into a player. He’s just a player whatever the sport.”
A first team All-SOL National Conference linebacker on the gridiron, Schilling is the starting first baseman for the baseball team this spring and will be playing both sports at Lycoming College next fall.
“He’s a kid who has played two sports at a high level,” Pennsbury baseball coach Joe Pesci said. “Unfortunately, he lost a season last year, but we were pretty excited about him last year because he looked great in the winter.
“He’s a tough, strong kid. What I saw was just the growth mentally and in maturity. The talent level is there, the physical is there, but when you see the growth in the mental approach and the maturity level, you could see a different kid when they approach practices and when they approach the work part of it. Same kid but you saw a different angle, and we were excited to see what he could do. Then you lose your season.”
There’s no mistaking Schilling is a talented athlete, but there’s more to it than that. The senior standout isn’t playing for the accolades or any recognition he might receive. Instead, his inspiration comes from his biggest fan on the sidelines of his games - his brother David, who has cerebral palsy.
“He loves sports, he’s at almost every one of my games,” Schilling said. “He watches me to the smallest details, and he’ll tell me what I’m doing wrong. He’ll give me advice here and there. He just pushes me the most.”
The two brothers are separated in age by eight years – David is 26, but both share the same passion for sports.
“Honestly, he’s one of my best friends,” Schilling said. “He’s been motivating me my whole life.
“He says he and my dad are coming to my games (at Lycoming), so I’ll hopefully see him there, but I’m going to miss him a ton.”
David participated in the Challenger Football program, which provides skill training and game experience for athletes with special needs. For the past three years, Schilling has been active in the program as well.
“Why not help kids who have the same problem,” he said. “You just have to motivate them, make them smile.”
According to Pesci, Schilling is involved in Challenger Football for all the right reasons.
“It’s not something Jake does because the team makes him,” the Falcons’ baseball coach said. “It’s something he’s passionate about, helping out those that are less fortunate, and obviously, it comes from having a brother who is disabled. You see kids in a different light when you learn that stuff about them.”
McShane added, “There’s something a little extra there to realize how blessed he is to play the game and to play through his brother and his brother plays through him. You could watch his brother on the sidelines, and you could see that he knew Jake was out there playing for him. It was a pretty cool thing.”
Sports have always been an important part of Schilling’s life, and he competed in football wrestling and baseball through eighth grade when he elected to give up wrestling.
“I felt like it would be too much doing all three sports in high school,” he said.
Schilling got his first taste of football playing for the Levittown Lions.
“I was always a defensive player – that’s was my favorite,” he said. “I’m allowed to do whatever I want really.”
A varsity starter at linebacker since he was a sophomore, Schilling was a defensive force.
“He’s really downhill and aggressive and intelligent,” McShane said of his senior captain. “He checks all the boxes.”
In baseball, Schilling earned a spot on the varsity as a sophomore but saw limited action. He was eager to prove himself last year only to see the season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Coach Pesci is a really good coach,” he said. “A lot of people want to play for him, and every year there’s 80 kids at tryouts, so it really pushes me to try and get on the field and start.
“Last year was very upsetting. There was nothing to do – the season was just over, it disappeared.”
Schilling did play in several tournaments last summer with his AAU squad, the CrossBridge Raiders. He is expected to be a key contributor to the varsity this season.
“He’s a tough, strong kid,” Pesci said. “He came up as a catcher, but he can play third, he can catch, he can pitch. He’ll primarily be a first baseman, but we may lean on him a little bit in other spots as well.
“These 2020 kids really got the shaft. A lot of them didn’t get that year to prove themselves to colleges. I was thrilled when he was able to now play two sports in college.”
Schilling acknowledged the pandemic changed his perspective about sports.
“It makes me appreciate it 10 times more because it can just go away like that,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it, so I worked even harder in the offseason to try and make it a better year.”
Last fall, Pennsbury’s football games were played without fans, but it didn’t change Schilling’s level of enjoyment when Friday nights rolled around.
“It was amazing,” he said. “One of the best feelings I ever had was running onto that field.”
The opportunity to play both football and baseball at the collegiate level took what would have been a very tough decision off Schilling’s plate.
“I feel like I would regret if I picked one sport or the other,” he said.
And during a time when recruiting was all but at a standstill, Schilling was one of the fortunate ones.
“It was scary because not as many college coaches reach out to you, and all the college money was messed up,” he said. “It was tough.
“I know a (baseball) coach from Bristol name Mike Ciotti – he went to Lycoming, he got in touch with the coach, and it went from there. The football coach reached out to me, and he asked me if I played any other sports. I told him I played baseball. They’re just starting a baseball team my freshman year, and they asked me if I wanted to play both.”
Schilling plans to major in special education and sports marketing with his sights set on one day coaching. He’s gained valuable experience volunteering at Pesci’s clinics and camps and appreciates his baseball coach’s style.
“He sets the standards really high for you,” Schilling said. “He wants you to almost be perfect. It puts pressure on you, but it makes you better.”
Pesci is not naming captains this year, but he expects Schilling to be a positive leader.
“When you have football kids who play baseball, they tend to be some of the natural leaders just because of their toughness and a little bit more of the aggressiveness,” the Falcons’ coach said. “He definitely has risen to the point where the other kids on the team really like him, for sure. He’s not a loud kid, but he is energetic and seemingly positive most of the time.
“Without being cliché, he is a kid you look forward to going in and working with daily. When they come in as freshmen, you might not know the inner workings of what goes on with them. He revealed his character over the past two years.”
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