Walsh Jesuit High School has named Joseph Bowers as its baseball coach.
Bowers, a 2008 Walsh Jesuit graduate, takes over a program that was led by Chris Kaczmar for the past 26 years.
Kaczmar, a 1988 Walsh Jesuit graduate, announced during the 2021-2022 school year that he was stepping away from coaching to spend more time with his family.
Bowers played football, basketball and baseball at WJ. He played baseball under Kaczmar, and then was a member of the University of Mount Union baseball team under coach Paul Hesse.
Bowers earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Mount Union, and has completed 10 years as a Health and Physical Education teacher for Akron Public Schools. He is currently a middle school teacher at Jennings Community Learning Center in North Hill.
“I am extremely excited to lead the Walsh Jesuit baseball program,” Bowers said in a prepared statement.
“Walsh Jesuit is a very special place to me and my family and I hope to add to the rich tradition of academics and athletics that the school is known for. I am very excited to get started and build on the gold standards set by coach Chris Kaczmar for the last 26 years.I believe that my contributions to Walsh Jesuit will extend beyond the baseball diamond.”
Bowers, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, is also a WJ junior varsity basketball coach.
Walsh Jesuit Athletic Director Mark Hassman said he sees Bowers as the “right fit to continue the rich heritage of the baseball program.”
“We are very fortunate to have incredible assistants in our very successful baseball program,” Hassman said in a prepared statement.
“After interviewing Joe, it was obvious that he was perfect for the position. He will continue the tradition set forth by Chris Kaczmar with high expectations for success but also bring changes that will fit more to his personality and way of doing things. With Joe at the helm, it will bring continuity to the program and a goal for a state championship.”
Chris Kaczmar retires with over 600 coaching wins, four state titles
Kaczmar compiled a 612-123 record in 26 years with four state championships, seven regional titles, 16 district championships and 22 sectional crowns.
WJ posted a 25-6 record in 2022 and advanced to a Division I regional final.
Prior to the season, Kaczmar said he was stepping away from the dugout for several reasons, including to spend more time with his wife, Beth, their daughters, Emma and Lucy, and their sons, Stanley and Henry. Chris and Beth have been married since 1997.
“There were a lot of factors,” Kaczmar said in March. “First off, I want to have a different lifestyle with my girls. I have been wanting to spend more time with them for quite some time, and it felt like for me at this point in my life that the timing was good. I always I felt like it was going to be part of what I wanted to do in terms of succession to leave the cupboard full for the next coach and the timing is right for that as well.
“There are some other goals that I want to do with my time moving forward. I would like to do things in the spring and the summer that are not baseball. I want to learn the guitar, I want to get more involved in a triathlon and I want to watch my son [Henry] play baseball at the University of Michigan [in future seasons] in no particular order. So, there are a lot of factors and all of those things led me to the point where I am at peace with it being the right time for me and my family.”
The 2022 WJ baseball team featured several standouts, including senior shortstop Henry Kaczmar, junior pitcher Ryan Piech and junior catcher-pitcher Mason Eckelman.
Chris Kacmzar grew up in Hinckley and is currently a Bath Township resident. Kaczmar competed in baseball, wrestling and soccer at Walsh Jesuit. I have graduated from Miami University and is the President of Kaczmar Architects Incorporated in Cleveland. Kaczmar Architects is a family affair with Chris’ parents, Stan and Terry, and his sister, Katie, working for the company. Stan and Terry are the owners.
Kaczmar served as WJ’s freshmen baseball coach in 1995 and as the junior varsity coach in 1996. He was named the varsity coach in 1997 at the age of 27 and took over the program from his high school coach, Steve Grescovich.
Kaczmar led Walsh Jesuit’s baseball team to Division II state titles in 1999, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The Warriors were also a Division II state runner-up in 2009 and 2010, and a Division I state semifinalist in 2021.
Kaczmar has coached 133 baseball players at WJ who have either played in college or are on the 2022 team and have made a commitment to play in college. The list of 133 includes 70 Division I college players.
Ten of Kaczmar’s former players have been drafted by a Major League Baseball franchise: Patrick O’Brien, Chad Rodgers, Johnny Fasola, Tyler Skulina, Greg Greve, Dominic Canzone, Joe Mockbee, Ryan Feltner, Cassidy Brown and David Starn.
Feltner became the first player from Walsh Jesuit to make it to the Major Leagues when he made his debut with the Colorado Rockies in 2021.
O’Brien, Rodgers, Fasola, Skulina, Greve, Canzone, Mockbee, Brown and Starn all played minor league baseball along with former WJ player Matt Bok, who signed as a free agent after being undrafted.
Michael Beaven can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.