At some point, most kids have dreamt about being a part of their favorite Major League Baseball team. For Macon High School graduate Ed Kohl, this dream has come true.
A 1996 graduate of MHS, Kohl was a dual-sport athlete. On the football team, he was a center and defensive end under head Coach Walt Thompson. In the spring, he was a member of the Tiger baseball team. He played third base, and was also a pitcher under Coach Bartley Burke.
After graduating high school, Kohl began his college career at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. After one year, he transferred to Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City. Kohl would finish college in 2000 at Division II Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas where he majored in Physical Education and minored in Sociology. Although he switched colleges, one thing stayed consistent throughout his college career—his love for baseball.
"I was always interested in baseball," said Kohl. "From the time my dad took me up to the little league fields on Sundays to pitch to me, or wiffle ball with my buddies on the courthouse lawn. Those were fun days."
Now, Kohl is working with baseball players that could one day make it to the Major League—he is a strength and conditioning coach with the Iowa Cubs, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in Des Moines.
When it comes to a typical day on the job, Kohl has a long day of work. After arriving at the stadium around 11 a.m., he usually prepares the weight room for the players, and gets their programs lined up for them.
"Some players will work out and condition before the afternoon practice and others prefer late workouts," said Kohl. "Pitchers usually stretch around 3 p.m. and run through their throwing program and conditioning before batting practice."
When the afternoon arrives, then it's time for batting practice. Kohl will usually play catch with the pitcher and/or a few other players, depending on the day. According to Kohl, the position players will stretch and throw around 3:30 p.m. He will hit ground balls to infielders during batting practice and condition position players as needed after practice. After batting practice, it's right back to the weight room for more workouts. Games will usually start around 7 p.m.
After the game begins, it is typically slow time for Kohl. Once the starting pitcher leaves the game, Kohl will monitor his shoulder exercises and post-game conditioning. When the game is over, he will work with any position players that need to take their workouts. If everything goes as planned, Kohl is out of the stadium by 11 p.m, but it doesn't always work out as planned. "With travel days, day games and rain, it seems that there are many adjustments that need to be made from day to day," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Many of the Major League's best players started their journey in the Minor League system.
"Its a good feeling watching young players make adjustments both on the field and daily habits to give themselves the opportunity to reach the Major League level," said Kohl. "Honestly, I have just been lucky to be involved in a career which I have a passion for."
Players on the Iowa Cubs team, including former Colorado Rockies infielder Ian Stewart, and outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic have seen time at the Major League level.
"There are many players who play at the professional level with average talent," said Kohl. "The difference is they have a drive and a give-all attitude as a teammate. Those are qualities that are difficult to instill as a coach, but that is what coaches look for in a player."
With a job like Kohl's, it would seem hard not to find a reward that comes from working with a baseball team. "I think that, just like any other teacher and coach, the most rewarding aspect is watching a student develop in a positive way as they mature."
As for the up-and-coming baseball player who still dreams of hitting a home run to win the World Series with their favorite team, Ed gives this advice: "Persistence and a good work ethic are two qualities which are good to possess. Along with persistence is the ability to accept and learn from failure quickly, overcome it, and move forward with a greater feel for what you are trying to accomplish as a player."