Ian Gehres has had a dream of playing college baseball for as long as he can remember.
That dream became a reality Monday, June 19, when the 2017 Jonathan Alder High School graduate signed a commitment letter to play baseball at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky.
Gehres, who earned both first team All-Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference and Division II All-Central District honors this spring, takes a mile long list of accolades and praise with him off to college.
“First of all he’s a high character guy,” Pioneers coach Craig Kyle said. “He has integrity, is a great teammate, a competitor, gets it done in the classroom and then getting to the baseball part of it he’s a great player.
“The compliment for a baseball player is that they’re a dirt bag and I mean that whole-heartily he’s one of those guys. He just shows up every day to play ball. Whenever he crosses the chalk, he’s 100 percent for him and his teammates, he’s been like that since he was a freshmen. They’re getting a great ballplayer but also a great person.”
Lindsey Wilson College is a NAIA school located in Eastern Kentucky, South of Louisville and North of Nashville. A majority of the school’s students are athletes and Gehres felt comfortable on the campus and around the coaching staff.
“I definitely say the facilities and the majority of the coaching staff were the key,” Gehres said. “(Assistant) Coach (Ridge) Gonsoulin came up five hours to watch me play. I went 0-for-4 that day and that didn’t change a thing. They still wanted me after that. It was a statement that they wanted me just as much as they did before the game.
“Getting on campus, I met the other assistant coaches and the head coach (Jonathan) Burton. I just really like how they do things. I like how they’re serious. I really liked the coaching staff. I can really see how they strive for success and how they are recruiting. It’s something that stuck out to me. It’s a family atmosphere. Literally 80 percent of the 2,600 students are athletes and nearly every team has won a national title. They know what it takes to be successful.”
A year ago Gehres suffered a shoulder injury which kept him from being able to lift his arm above his head for months following the surgery. But he was able to fight his way back onto the field and helped his team win a D-II district championship despite playing out of position at first base.
That desire to work his way back on to the field for his senior year is something Kyle said shows how much of a gamer Gehres really is.
“I always talk about you don’t know how much you love something until it’s taken away from you,” the coach said. “He learned that in his down time battling back. It’s all about how you handle adversity and he’s handled it the best that he can. By fighting through, I could see the pain both mentally and physically, not being there and not being able to catch due to it. It was all about the team and he did whatever was best for the team.
“I think he’s a catcher for sure, the fact that he showed that he can play multiple positions was huge. If you need Ian to play here or there he’s willing to do it. It’s a testament to him and the kind of kid he is. When healthy though he’s a legitimate college catcher.”
Gehres said he learned the value of patience during his time rehabbing his shoulder and is now feeling as if he’s 100 percent.
“I know when I first had surgery, they were talking about recovery for 6-8 months and maybe up to a year,” he said. “I really started to see improvement, but it was a slow process. It was a struggle but I was able to make it back.”
“When he came in as a eighth grader to freshmen year and started asking questions about what he needed to do about the recruiting process, I knew he was serious about college and I knew he was serious about playing baseball,” Kyle said. “Over the next four years the dedication and time he put in and coming back from an injury and everything he went through with that, I knew he was college material.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.