Hello, My Name Is: Conner Kolz
It may seem like all fun and games in practice, but Conner Kolz’s gamesmanship on the field is what has transformed him into Antigo baseball’s bona fide leader
ANTIGO, Wis. (WSAW) - While at an Antigo practice, it’s not hard to see the amount of fun the Red Robins are having. Constant chatter, words of both encouragement and jest, and of course, the clamoring to jump in for their shot at batting practice. Leading the way, both literally and figuratively, is senior Conner Kolz, who can be heard joking with teammates at the plate while he is out fielding in right field.
“He’s a fun kid,” said Antigo head coach Alex Heiny. “He likes to joke around, keep things loose.”
The fun-loving spirit emanating from Kolz reaches throughout the team, creating a truly family dynamic, complete with the ribbing and fun that sounds like any family gathering.
“You play with the same guys nearly your whole life,” said Kolz. “I really like how it’s a family atmosphere. That can lead to good chemistry on the field and off it.”
Kolz isn’t just the metaphorical voice of the team. It’s his literal voice that carries onto the field, running the show from behind home plate as the catcher.
“I love communicating with the pitcher, calling the game,” said Kolz. “It’s just having that communication with the whole field really.”
Leading hasn’t always been the role for Kolz. He is just one of two varsity returners from last season, making him the de facto leader this year.
“I really like being the leader,” said Kolz. “I love being the vocal presence that we have.”
His coach and his teammates confirm that he’s stepped into the role nicely.
”He’s always got the guys’ back,” said Heiny. “If the guy has a bad at-bat or has a bad outing on the mound, he’s always got their back.”
“Conner’s just such a team leader and we don’t know what we’d do without him,” said junior Mason Gray. “He’s amazing on the field and he’s earned everything he’s got and he’s such a hard worker.”
Kolz has been putting in the work in Antigo for a long time. Even his teammates have memories of him crushing before his high school days.
“In Little league, he hit a dinger off me,” said senior teammate Malik Brisby. “I think that was a crazy moment where I left one hanging, but I was happy for him you know. I think we both had a good laugh after.”
It’s those one-on-one matchups that Kolz loves about the game more than his other varsity sports of basketball and football. He loves the solo battles, coupled with the culmination of a team effort.
“I like, how it’s just you versus the pitcher, to be honest,” said Kolz. “I like the one-on-one aspect of it and I also like how everyone has to do their job in order for us to be successful.”
With nearly four years of sporting the “A” on his cap, Kolz is still trying to mentally process his career coming to a close. With that being said, he still brings that jubilant spirit to the practice field every day but knows when it’s time to flip that switch into game mode.
“He’s always able to crack a joke and keep things light, but when it’s game time, he’s all business,” said Heiny. “He’s just a fantastic player and leader for us.”
”I’m just trying to play as hard as I can, every time I get to play,” said Kolz. “That’s what my dad always told me to do just try your best and then good things will come.”
Kolz doesn’t have any plans yet to play at the next level, but if the opportunity came, he’d jump at the chance. The Red Robins play four games this week, starting Tuesday at GNC foe, Medford.
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