On this beautiful Friday afternoon, I caught up with Head Baseball Coach, Eric Kibler on the fields at Horizon High school. Coach K has been doing this for quite some time and based on the smile on his face he still loves it! For me, I really enjoy our personal friendship as well as our professional relationship, and marvel at the amount of time he spends helping students become better people and athletes. He believes that being a good citizen, student and athlete, in that order, is more important than a win at all cost attitude. Plus, I get to spend 2-3 days a week in the fall with Horizon Baseball and the great kids they have there.
His program is one that should be a model for all high school athletic teams. Coach K helps his players prepare physically for their season by offering a 15-week pre-season conditioning program administered by FITLIFE, that includes endurance, strength, speed and explosive training as well as Yoga. During this time, they shut down playing baseball and concentrate on resting their arms and recharging their bodies. He and his staff cover all the bases of improving baseball skill through middle school fall baseball clinics, high school winter intramural’s, a pre-season throwing program and summer team play. Oh, I almost forgot, he also coaches the Varsity baseball team. This will be his 38th year at Horizon and during his coaching career his record is 793-300, an incredible winning percentage of 725%. He also has 6 State Titles and one National Championship. Many of his players that have gone on to play both at the collegiate and professional levels.
His coaching journey started 46 years ago in Columbus Ohio working at the Ohio School for the Deaf as both the assistant basketball and baseball coach for 2 years. He moved on to his first head baseball coaching job at Van Wert High School also in Ohio, winning 2 Sectionals and the school’s first League Championship. Like many of us, he and his wife Shirley tired of the Midwest weather and moved to Phoenix where he was hired to teach Physical Education and coach the Junior Varsity Baseball at Paradise Valley High School. In 1980, following his 2 years at PVHS, he was hired to begin the baseball program at Horizon High School. He taught there for the 30 years and continues to coach today. He will tell you he is an educator first, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Health, Physical Education and Fitness from The Ohio State University. Following his retirement from teaching he joined USA Baseball and is the Coordinator of both 14 and 17 U Olympic Development Program. Coach K never tires of baseball constantly sharing his baseball knowledge with me, his players, parents and other coaches.
He and I have a long history working together. I was the Athletic Trainer at Horizon for 5 years, he has been a major supporter of FITLIFE for 20 years, he coached my son Ryan when he played baseball at Horizon as well as the friendship that Janet and I have had with he and Shirley. I have really enjoyed the 25 years I have spent with him and look forward to many more!
Hope you enjoyed meeting another friend/colleague of mine. Have a safe and healthy weekend.