Coach Gene Stechchulte, as a kid from Kalida, Ohio, was involved in sports from an early age. After a career as a player that culminated in pitching in the Major Leagues, Stechschulte now coaches at the university level, where he has set new records with Ohio Northern University baseball.
Pitching in the Majors
For Stechschulte, baseball has opened doors in his life. “What was once just a hobby turned into a very focal part of everything I have done in my adult life. I’ve gotten more from the game than I had ever dreamed about.”
He’s most proud of overcoming what could have been the end of his baseball career several times. Upon graduating high school, he was not recruited by colleges, but ended up playing baseball at the Ashland University, and having an All-American hitting career. Despite his successes at Ashland, he was not drafted by a professional team at the end of his college career. When he secured a place on a rookie team in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system, he fought to prove himself. Determination and hard work led to him becoming an MLB pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2000-2002. He hit a home run on the first pitch ever thrown to him in a Major League game—one of only a few players to do this!
Stechschulte now serves as the 24th head baseball coach for Ohio Northern University, where he has broken all-time single season individual and team hits records. Coach Stechschulte, in his eighth season with OSU, ranks just below Coach Herb Strayer, who was ONU’s head baseball coach for 31 years, in all-time career victories.
Stechschulte has coached over 40 players who have gone on to play baseball professionally. He takes his role as a mentor seriously, both with his team and with youth in the surrounding area who attend camps at ONU.
He strives to teach his players, above all, respect for everyone they meet, both in and out of baseball. He instills in his team that they are representatives of the University and should carry themselves in an honorable way. He holds his team to a “standard of excellence,” meaning that they are expected to exhibit hard work and dedication in everything they do. This holds true in the classroom as well.
The adversity he faced in his first few years with the Cardinals has helped to shape his coaching style. “I know what it was like when my coaches didn’t take time to work with me for two years,” Stechschulte says. He learned to be the hardest worker in any organization he has been a part of and teaches his players that, too.
Sports and family
Stechschulte’s father was one of his first coaches, teaching him the value of identifying the good things in every player, and how that impacts young children especially. He mentions—without external pressure from parents.
Coach Stechschulte and his wife, Krista, live in Findlay with their three children. Andrew is a sophomore at FHS and his favorite sport is baseball. Katleyn, 7th grade, and Ava, 2nd grade, both attend St. Michael’s. Sports are a big part of family life and the coach instills in his own children the importance of persevering, not giving up. “The greatest things in life are accomplished when failure is a real option. There is no way of growing without pushing yourself past what you think your limits are,” he says.
Q & A with Coach Gene Stechschulte
What do you love the most about baseball? The game presents very few limitations due to physical stature. Skill development is the most critical factor to a player’s success and hard work can overcome physical limitations.
What makes baseball unique from other sports? The saying is that baseball is the most negative game there is. Players that strike out two of every three times at bat end up in the hall of fame. There’s a mental side to the game, and you have to develop the ability to come back from failure, pitch to pitch.
What was exciting about playing in the MLB? Competing at the highest level every day. It was surreal playing in the MLB parks I grew up watching on television. Many of my teammates were guys that I had baseball cards of in plastic folders. It was an amazing feeling being a small part of that world.