Submitted by the Kitchener Minor Baseball Association
So your kids are grown up and finished playing sports and you’ve retired from the regular job. Rest time and the golf course right? Not so in the case of the coaches we are spotlighting in this issue.
Mike Ignor and Ken Schilling have made baseball their full-time “hobby”. These two men dedicate most of their waking hours to coaching, organizing and volunteering so that children in Kitchener can learn the game of baseball and have the benefit of coaches who aren’t their own dads, although I’m sure that is how these two gentlemen began their coaching careers….and career coaches they are. Between them they have six kids of their own, who have all played rep sports (hockey, soccer, baseball) over the years, and who have now grown up and moved away from home. But this did not stop them. This “dynamic duo” has coached various rep teams together over the years and treat every child as if they were their own. They also jointly run the Panther Camp for two weeks every summer. They coached the Midget AAA team until the 2009 season when they decided to move to a younger age group and coach the major bantam team. The following year they rose to the challenge when needed and took on a minor bantam team. They continued to stay at this level and in the 2011 season had a banner year with an excellent won/loss record.
Mike Ignor was a school principal with the Waterloo County Catholic School board until his retirement. Even though soccer was his expertise, baseball seemed to be where his volunteer spirit lay. Mike has been a long term dedicated volunteer with Kitchener Minor Baseball and served as the KMBA president for a number of years until November 2010. In his time as president he was dedicated to making change to increase registration and worked with Waterloo Minor Baseball to make sure the joint house league programs remained stable. In late 2009 Mike became ill, was diagnosed with a blood disorder in 2010 and since then has had to deal with hospital visits, tests, treatments and transfusions as he makes his recovery. No matter how bad he felt he was always the first to volunteer to do whatever was needed and always with the same tenacity and happy smile. Nothing gets this man down and he still coached, worked eight hour days at the Panther camp for two weeks each summer and is at every Kitchener Minor Baseball event volunteering his time. Typically the role as “Past President” on the executive is one of a consulting nature but you would never know it as he is so dedicated and involved in every aspect of the organization.
Ken Schilling has been part of the backbone of KMBA over the years, holding various executive positions in the organization along with coaching and running clinics and Panther camp. A few years ago shortly after retiring from Canada Post, Ken suffered through knee surgery (booked in the off season of course) and a long recovery, though didn’t take any time away from his volunteer positions. Ken is the “go to guy” in the KMBA organization. A former Kitchener Panther himself, Ken has the experience and know how to teach players from jr. rookie to midget the game of baseball. Until 2010 Ken was the director of Tier 1 for KMBA but decided to step down from that role due to his coaching commitments and take on the role of vice president. Along with coaching and executive responsibilities, Ken also maintains the equipment inventory for KMBA which is a huge undertaking considering there are 15 rep teams and between Kitchener and Waterloo approximately 50 house league teams. Having the opportunity to play on a team coached by Ken is always a bit of an honour for players in the KMBA system. His dedication to the players in KMBA is shown every day in the time and effort that he puts into the organization. Ken received a Celebration 2010 Community Sports Hero Award from Leeanna Pendergast, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga. The awards are given to community sports volunteers who have made a difference in the lives of local athletes or the community at large.
We have so many wonderful volunteers in the organization that should be recognized but felt it necessary to thank these gentlemen in this forum because they have both put their own health issues and difficulties aside in order to continue with the spirit of volunteering.
A number of KMBA executive will be donating blood this year to show our appreciation for Mike’s years of dedicated service to KMBA. Many people unknown to us require blood every day to survive. Coach Mike is unknown to others who donate but he’s a very special part of the baseball community so if you are able to please find a clinic in your area and donate. For more info please contact: KMBA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-741-9999, or online at www.kmba.ca