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April 23, 2014

Former Fraser baseball player, Kowal, has gone on to find success at college level

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Pictured ready to catch the ball at first base is former Fraser and current Albion baseball player Kyle Kowal. While at Fraser, Kowal was selected to the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division first team his senior season.

This is around the time of year when youth baseball leagues get started all across the state of Michigan.

While those young ballplayers may have a great time taking part in America’s pastime, chances are most of them won’t be playing the sport at an organized level beyond high school. Baseball is arguably the most difficult of all the major sports to play, and only a small percentage of those who begin playing the game as a youth will make it as far as the college level.

But you can count Kyle Kowal as one of the exceptions. Following his high school career at Fraser, he went on to earn a roster spot at Albion College. Kowal is now in his junior season with the Britons and, at press time, was hitting .348.

Kowal plays first base and third base for Albion, and he has enjoyed the opportunity he has been given to suit up for the Britons.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I think the main thing is it’s so much fun competing every day. I’ve been playing baseball since I was 4 or 5 years old, starting with T-ball. Been a dream of mine to play at the collegiate level.”

While his accomplishments at Albion have been special to Kowal, there is something he would still like to be part of before leaving the program, and it’s a lot bigger than his individual statistics.

“The goal hasn’t changed since day one — it’s still to win a championship,” he said. “This year, we have high hopes. The goal is to win a national championship at any college level. I never won a state championship in high school or anything, so I think that would be an experience I would never forget. I don’t think I’ll ever be truly pleased with my average or with the way I’m playing until we win a championship.”

For as much enjoyment as baseball has brought to Kowal over the years, the greatest benefits of playing the game may not be completely evident until his days as a collegiate ballplayer are over.

“I think baseball’s probably the best sport for learning lessons — teaches you to fail,” said Kowal, who aside from indicating he has “the best support system” in his family, also acknowledged support he has received from coaches. “Even Hall-of-Famers fail seven out of 10 times. It really teaches you to deal with failure and how to make adjustments when you need to. In life, you come across failures time and time again. I think that’s been the one thing with baseball that has carried over into my life.”

Kowal is majoring in accounting. And while he indicated that he is looking forward to joining the workforce, in the meantime, he gets to continue to play the game he took up as a child.

“I’m more than excited about that,” he said. “Every day, I get the opportunity to play a game that I love. That’s been one thing that I’ve kind of fed into my success — taking a step back and realizing that I’m really fortunate, and that I get to continue playing baseball.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.