Fundraising efforts underway for new Posen field honoring late coach Pat Kowalski

News File Photo Posen baseball coach Pat Kowalski is pictured in this 2016 News archive photo. Fundraising efforts are underway to build a new field in Posen, which would honor Kowalski and his wife, Barb, who both passed away in 2022. In a 30-year career as Posen’s coach, Kowalski led the Vikings to 494 wins.

ALPENA — If all goes smoothly, the Posen baseball team will play on a brand-new field next season.

Fundraising efforts have been underway for about a month for the Pat and Barb Kowalski Memorial Baseball Field, to be built on the site of Posen’s practice football field.

Plans are to begin working on the field this summer. Upon completion, Posen’s baseball and softball fields will be on school property for the first time.

Posen’s new field would honor longtime baseball coach Pat Kowalski and his wife, Barb, who both passed away in June 2022 in an automobile crash.

So far, more than $9,000 has been raised online through GoFundMe, and fundraising organizer Leslie Konieczny said other fundraising efforts are being planned, as well, including possible charity games this summer and sponsorship banners to hang along the fence line at the new field.

“The field is in rough shape,” Konieczny said. “It needs a lot of work, so we started researching to see how we can get this off the ground. We decided we wanted to move the field and honor Pat. He’s the reason we have this great program to begin with. My husband played for him and my oldest son played for him.”

The school co-owns its current baseball field with Presque Isle County and Posen.

While the field has been Posen’s home for decades, it’s also used during the summer for men’s league softball and has seen better days. Years of wear and tear have left the field in less-than-stellar condition, to the point there are safety concerns for players and spectators.

Posen baseball coach Glenn Budnick estimates the current field is at least 50 years old and has remained largely unchanged from when it was first constructed.

The field’s current location also presents logistical issues.

The softball field sits on school grounds, but the baseball field is a little over a mile down the road on shared space with the Presque County Road Commission. That makes it extremely difficult — if not impossible — for parents with players on both teams to see their kids when Posen plays at home.

“I have three kids and they all play sports,” Konieczny said. “I never watched them play at the same time. I was always missing something.”

Naming the new field after the Kowalskis — who met as students at Central Michigan University and were married in 1971 — was a no-brainer, according to Budnick and Konieczny.

Over a 30-year coaching career, Kowalski led the Vikings to 494 wins, influencing scores of young players and turning Posen into a consistent winner.

He led the Vikings to a 30-win season and the Division 4 semifinals in 1999. The next year, Posen won 30 more games and finished as the Division 4 state runner-up — an accomplishment that’s still celebrated with signs at the north and south village limits in Posen.

Kowalski was inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010 and is enshrined at Comerica Park in Detroit. He retired after the 2019 season.

“Working with him for the years I did, his name is synonymous with Posen baseball,” Budnick said. “He’s got his own legacy carved out, and everyone else can hope to get there. The kids respected him and the community did, too.”

Posen Consolidated School District Board of Education Vice President Brian Konieczny played on Kowalski’s first Posen baseball team in 1990 and remembers his coach as a tough but fair mentor who expected players to do things the right way.

Konieczny’s son, Joey, played during Kowalski’s final season and Konieczny said Kowalski was still the same.

“He hadn’t changed a bit, he just got older,” Konieczny said. “He was a really good guy, a very good coach, and a very good teacher. Anytime I’d run into him in public, he’d go out of his way to say hi.”

Work on the new field hasn’t begun, yet, but Budnick is excited by the problems it would solve and the possibilities it would bring.

He and his players have seen and played on the redone fields of some of their North Star League opponents during road games and imagined how nice it would be to have a similar setup in Posen.

A new field also would bring Posen into the fold for hosting state tournament games down the road.

“(The current field) served its purpose, and we’re willing to move on from it,” Budnick said. “It will be nice to have everything in one location. I can walk out of the school and go right to practice.”

Those interested in donating to the new field can do so at gofundme.com/f/help-build-the-pat-barb-kowalski-memorial-baseball-field.


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