By Doug Kish, M.A.
Although every young athlete dreams of playing professional baseball, never in his wildest dreams did Chad Wagler think it would come true for him. Wagler’s first actual year of playing baseball was in first grade, but there are photos of him hitting using a tee and a wooden bat made for him by his father when he was about three years old.
As a freshman, Wagler played for Lake High School where someone noticed his talent as a pitcher. He was awarded a scholarship to play at Kent State University and was captain of the team his senior year.
In 2005, after his junior season as Kent State’s closer, Wagler was drafted by the San Francisco Giants. Ultimately returning to school, he graduated and was married that summer. After the 2006 season Wagler was drafted by the Houston Astros and played in their minor-league system for four seasons, reaching as high as the AA level (Corpus Christi) during the regular season. During spring training Wagler traveled with the Astros to Clearwater to play against the Phillies. He was brought along as an extra pitcher but never got an opportunity to play in the game. During his professional career, Wagler was always a pitcher, although he played in the outfield a bit in college.
Wagler says, “Throughout my baseball career I have had great coaches. Among them were Mark Kremer and Bob Starcher at Lake High School and at Kent State, Mike Birkbeck. These men was not just great coaches, they were great people and mentors.”
Asked about Wagler, Kremer said, “I knew Chad was special back in little league. The desire to improve was already brewing. He was often seen hitting and catching with his dad, even though there was no scheduled practice. His work ethic and desire to achieve his goal did not go unnoticed and he motivated his teammates to be better for themselves and to achieve team goals.”
Wagler credits his father for his baseball success by spending countless hours practicing with him and learning the game from books and VHS tapes. Tim Wagler taught his son how to pitch and hit, never having played the game himself. Wagler says his father also taught him the value of hard work and humility, and gave a lot of time and effort to help him achieve his goals.
In 2009 Wagler retired from professional baseball and turned his attention to his family, since playing ball kept him from spending precious time with his wife and one-year-old son. Since Wagler always had a good rapport with kids and had great mentors in his life when he was growing up, he wanted to give the same opportunity to other young athletes.
Wagler currently coaches baseball at Massillon High School and has also coached at Lake High School. In the offseason, he teaches pitching and hitting, as well as training athletes of all ages who play a variety of other sports.
Wagler has trained and coached numerous high school athletes in various sports helping them improve their game to the point of earning scholarships to play at colleges all across the country. “Coaching is extremely rewarding,” says Wagler. “There are quite a few athletes I helped train who are now playing on college teams. Obviously, I cannot take credit for it all because they put in the work. I just hope their experience with me was a positive one and I helped them get closer to achieving that next step.”
Describing Wagler as a coach, Herb Sawtell says, “He has the ability to find a kid’s strength in personal training or coaching at a certain position. He’s very positive and his demeanor lends to helping your child relax and focus on performance. Our son, Jake, has improved tremendously and is more confident than he has ever been.”
Nicolette Bourlas says of Wagler, “Chad is the type of trainer who makes you not only focus on becoming stronger and gaining stamina, but he also helps in developing a sense of healthy living in order to be the best, well-rounded student athlete.” Her twin sister Natalie adds, “Chad is fantastic at taking your natural athletic abilities to enhance and strengthen the areas of your game that need improvement. His encouragement and positive coaching approach is super motivating.” Nicolette and Natalie attend John Carroll University where they both play tennis. Wagler was instrumental in helping them improve their game to the point where they were each awarded scholarships.
“My daughter Abbey, a freshman at Lake High School, has trained with Chad in sprinting,” says Sherri Anderson. She continues, “His assessment skills in evaluating a runner to improve their endurance and change their form has brought many runners to success.”
No matter what he is doing, Wagler tries to make sure the kids are having fun and learning at the same time, helping them gain confidence. He says, “The more they know and understand, the more confident they will be and that confidence will carry over into other aspects of their lives.”
Damien Maglione plays baseball at Lake High School and will attend Lake Erie College next year, where he will also play ball. His father, Mike Maglione, says, “Coach Wagler has the knowledge and experience to be a top level coach and instructor. He also has the values and personality that you want when working with athletes of all ages and levels.”
Wagler is active in raising awareness and donations for Cystic Fibrosis, a cause close to his heart since his younger sister is afflicted with the disease. During his professional baseball career, he visited hundreds of children in hospitals. Wagler believes his words, actions and good deeds in all aspects of his life will impact the young adults he works with on a daily basis.
His advice for young athletes, “You can never replace hard work. There are no magic drills that can take its place. The lessons you learn from playing sports and training for sports are things you will remember and use for the rest of your life.”
For information on personal coaching and personal training with Chad Wagler, go to the Impulse Training website at www.ImpulseTraining.com.