by Roy Reiss
Photos by Joe Cavanaugh
January 7, 2014
It was a quickly mentioned item at a recent Kettleers meeting that very few reacted to. Coach Mike Roberts said former player Nolan Clark was coming back to Cotuit in 2015 to serve as a coach.
And with that short blurb, memories started to stir for yours truly.
It was the summer of 2013 and the Kettleers roster was loaded with catching prospects. For openers Aramis Garcia (Florida International) who was such a popular player in 2012 was scheduled to return to backbone the receiving corps. Grayson Greiner (South Carolina) one of the nation’s most highly touted catchers, was also on the roster. And there was also Will Remillard (Coastal Carolina) for depth purposes. Finally there was a temporary prospect named Nolan Clark (Concordia) who hadn’t caught a game in a year and a half due to injuries and red shirting. You know the saying, “you can never have enough catching”!
Slowly the depth disappeared. Garcia who would later be drafted by the Giants went home with sore knees. Greiner was so highly regarded that Team USA grabbed him. And Remillard suffered a bad back and was released early in July. The last catcher squatting was Clark.
What a great story line which was featured in a subsequent Kettleers Korner that summer.
And that short blurb started a communication trail between Clark’s family and yours truly that still exists to this day. There are exchanges that reminisce about that wonderful 2013 experience.
But now we have a different story line developing.
It’s about the catcher who was nicknamed Captain Clark for his leadership skills in that 2013 championship drive coming back to Cotuit to help coach the 2015 Kettleers. It’s the start of a new chapter in Clark’s young life, to coach other young prospects.
Nolan, how did this coaching business all unfold?
When I transferred to Concordia University I switched my major to ESS: Coaching and Athletic Administration, a major only offered at a few colleges. I thought to myself, ‘Well I’ve played this game my entire life and probably know more about baseball than I know about anything else’, so I went with it. When the team showed up in Cotuit Coach Roberts had everyone introduce themselves, the school we came from, our major, hobbies, and many other things on a daily basis so we could all become familiar with each other. Coach Roberts and I talked throughout the season about my major and what my plans were once I graduated. After the season ended we kept in touch, and after my baseball playing career ended we talked some more. I asked him this past fall if he had an available spot available for another coach and he told me yes
What are some of your thoughts on coming back to Cotuit as a coach?
I can’t wait to come back to Cotuit. The summer I spent in Cotuit was one of the best in my life. There is no better place to be if you are leaving your own home for the summer. Being an assistant for Coach Roberts is an honor, so I am excited and energized to get back out there and start learning. I can’t wait to get back to see my host family, the Swenson’s, who went above and beyond to ensure that I enjoyed my time out there and I am forever grateful to the hospitality they gave me. Also the fans of Cotuit, the best in the CCBL, were so great to us that I’m excited to come back and be able to give back to them any way that I can.
What are you hoping to accomplish?
I’m hoping to gain as much knowledge as I can while I’m out there. As a player, my knowledge of the game increased greatly while playing for Coach Roberts and I talked to other coaches on the team like Coach McCall and Coach Scott about what they were taking away from their experience. Their main answer was how much they were learning as a coach. As a brand new coach, I can only imagine how much there is to learn and I’m ready for that opportunity.
Have you been given a certain area of responsibility by Coach Roberts for the summer?
Coach Roberts and I haven’t talked much about a specific duty for me this summer, but I know that it will entail the basics of field maintenance, throwing batting practice, and possibly working with catchers.
You’re relatively young or just a few years older than some of the players….how do you earn or gain their respect?
This is a tough question, because I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’m going to do my best, always putting the players first by trying to help them in any way possible. I’m going to work as hard as I can and I’m going to show that I’m coming out this summer to get better, just like all the players are trying to do. The players and coaches are all on the same team, pulling on the same side of the rope, and once I can prove that I’m on the right side of the rope, maybe respect will be gained.
How do you think this could be different than your playing experience with the Kettleers?
Honestly, I hope it’s no different than my playing experience as a Kettleer because I had so much fun playing for this team. I still get to put on those pinstripe pants, step onto that amazing field, and compete to win baseball games. Just this time I’ll only be in foul territory and turfs.
Kettleers Korner will be anything and everything that might interest fans, past and present, about the Kettleers. Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7 and several radio stations in Boston. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.