It has been several years since Iola has fielded a Legion baseball team.
Now under the direction of Brian Korb, the team is once again on the field.
“Our Iola Legion Post 14 has been so generous helping get this program going again,” he said. “If it weren’t for their backing and commitment to our community, this season would have not have happened. We started planning in February on how to get this off the ground. It has been a pleasure working with and getting to know many of the veterans in our community.
“The Legion baseball program is a special opportunity for all involved,” he added. “Since it is not publicly funded like the school program is, the players realize you need to work at something in order to make it happen. We do not have the administrative staff to schedule the games, transportation, umpires, conduct the field prep and keep the concession stand in order. The boys and parents are really good about contributing and help move the program forward.”
Korb said this is not just an opportunity for the athletes, but the community as well.
“I think it is good for the local community to have some activity down at the village park again,” he said.
Korb hopes his love of baseball is passed on to his players.
“I would hope the players are able to take away just how enjoyable the game is when played well,” he said. “The high school years go by so fast, being able to spend time on the diamond with their friends makes lifelong memories. Seeing the boys adapt to stressful situations in the game will help them adjust to similar life situations as adults. That is probably the most enjoyable thing for me, to see how a player bounces back from a poor performance. It reveals a lot about a person’s character.”
Korb is creating his own memories for this year because he has the unique experience of coaching sons Tanner, Nate and Seth.
“Coaching your sons has unique challenges and is also rewarding,” he said. “I probably tend to be a little tougher on my own kids and have higher expectation than I should.”
All three seem to enjoy having their father on the field with them.
“I love having my dad as a coach,” Seth said. “He can push me better than anyone else can.”
“I think it is a blessing,” Nate said. “My dad and I are very close so we like to talk about the games and evaluate how we did as a team. It is a great way to figure out the things we need to work on.”
“I love having my dad as a coach,” Tanner said. “Even though you sometimes get grief about how your father doesn’t do something right or how he shouldn’t have done this or that, I know that he does a very good job. He has played baseball since he was a little boy and played well into his 30s. He knows more about the game than any other coach I know could provide for the team.”
Of course, being the coach’s kid is not always easy.
“The hardest part is worrying about disappointing not only your father, but your coach,” Tanner said. “When you have a father as a coach, he sees everything that goes on so you really have to try your hardest and watch what you do and say.”
“Being the coach’s kid, he expects me to take the role of being a leader on the field and letting people know the situations,” Nate said. “The hardest part is living up to his expectations,” Seth said. “It can be hard sometimes, but it always seems to work out just fine.”
“When I was a young man in my late teens and early 20s, I had the opportunity to play on a local Badger Amateur Baseball Association team with my father and step-father,” Brian said. “Although they didn’t coach me, I was certainly mentored on the field by both of them. I don’t know if I was fully aware at the time just how unique and special those days were. It is still something we talk about.
“I would hope my sons look back and appreciate the time we were able to spend on the diamond together,” he said. “A couple of them have an interest in coaching. It would be great if they were able to give back to the next generation of ballplayers when the time comes.”
“I am very appreciative that my dad took the initiative to get the Legion team started up again,” Nate said. “It is just another opportunity to become better and build a stronger team when it comes to the spring baseball season.”
“This year has been really fun,” Seth said. “My dad made a lot of kids who love baseball happy by giving them something to do in the summer.”
“What I have learned from my father?” Tanner asked. “If you truly love the game, you will always be a part of the sport.”