Surprenant positive about JALC baseball
Technically, Kyle Surprenant's first sports drills started before he could remember them.
Surprenant told Southeast Illinois News that he has been told stories and seen photographic proof of him rolling a ball around before he could walk.
“Supposedly, as a little kid I always wanted to have a baseball or football or basketball of some type in my hand,” he said.
That early love of sports has developed into the present day with Surprenant in his first season as the head baseball coach at John A. Logan College. Surprenant, who had been an assistant at JAL for six years prior to becoming head coach, took over the program last August when longtime coach Jerry Halstead retired.
Surprenant said the transition from assistant to head coach has been pretty smooth.
“(Halstead) allowed me to be heavily involved, so I had done a lot of the things I am doing now. However, as in every new position, there are certain things that I am now doing that I did not before,” Surprenant said. “Some of them are more challenging than others, but I have been well prepared over the last six years.”
According to njcaa.org, the Volunteers started the season with 10 wins in their first 15 games. Surprenant said the team had showed good balance in that stretch, and that health is key through the rest of the season. As of April 13, the team is 25-10 for the season.
“We have put together a team that has the ability to be good,” Surprenant said. “Through the course of a baseball season, there will always be some injuries and it takes everybody on the team to be ready for their opportunity.”
Baseball has almost always been a major part of Surprenant's life, from taking “hundreds of ground balls in the front yard” from his father to playing with the area kids in an empty lot from right after breakfast until dinner time, he said. The sport's influence was apparent in his extended family as well, with his grandparents being big St. Louis Cardinals fans and his uncles playing the game.
Surprenant said he loves the challenges of baseball.
“It is a game where the most talented or athletic person does not always win. It takes a great deal of discipline and mental toughness,” he said. “It is such a 'simple' game on the surface — throw, hit, catch — however, it is so much more complex than that with each and every pitch having an impact on the next one and the overall outcome of the game.”
After being done at Central High School, he moved on to play at Kankakee Community College, Western Illinois and the Washington Wild Things, an independent team in Pennsylvania. Surprenant said he knew in high school that he wanted to coach baseball when his playing days were over, and his coaching days actually started with being in charge of Little League teams while he was in college.
Surprenant said he finds coaching baseball comparable to playing.
“I still feel a lot of the same emotions as a coach that I did as a player," he said. "However, as a coach, I tend to have a better grasp on those emotions."