Prep Baseball Report

No 'Last Dance' For High School Seniors: Part Five

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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No 'Last Dance' For High School Seniors: Part Five

PART FIVE: The following is the fifth of an in-depth six-part story looking at the 2020 high school baseball season in Ohio which was officially cancelled this week.

Bruce & Dylan Hefflinger in 1998 (don't hate on the Rec Specs lol)There is nothing like growing up with a father that loves sports the same way as his son.

Some take on the responsibility of being a coach along the way.

While kids idolize their dad and as young T-Ball or Little League players take in every word of advice he can give them, the head of the household goes about the business of using sports as a teaching tool for their sons.

In many cases, there is more than one son that has the honor of being taught these life lessons on the ballfield.

There are always disagreements to iron out, but far more often than not, issues are resolved.

As time goes by, and those T-Ball and Little Leaguers turn into high school baseball players, an appreciation is developed for what dad - and even mom - has meant on that unforgettable baseball journey.

When it inevitably concludes comes the harsh reality that a time in your life that you have cherished so much is now a just memory of your past. Fortunately, the chance to reminisce never ends.


The prospects of not getting to play one final year with your classmates can be hard to comprehend. Finality is like that.

When a teammate is your brother, it makes the lost season taking place even tougher to deal with in Ohio and across the country.

Sam SeidelThat is the case with South Central’s Isaiah and Sam Seidel. A senior, Isaiah was looking forward to his final time on the field with his sophomore sibling.

“It has obviously been hard on me and my brother,” explained Isaiah, an Ashland signee. “We worked our butts off to make sure that we were gonna make some noise together for the last time possibly ever. Our goals that we had as individuals and for our team were high.”

Sam, a Bowling Green commit, was anticipating a big season as well.

“I think the most disappointing part of this is just how hard we worked and how much time we both put into the game, and then it’s over just like that,” Sam said. “This was supposed to be the year we could make a run and it’s just disappointing that we won’t have that opportunity.”

The chance to take his brother’s advice on the field will also not take place.

“He’s been saying just go out there and be me and play my game,” explained Sam, who admits to struggling as a freshman trying to make too big of an impression. “But now that the season is over, the advice now is basically to never take anything for granted. You never know when it will be your last.”

For Jack and Mike Sokol, the final time playing together at New Albany was already a given. Mike, an Ohio State signee, had off-season surgery and was already going to miss the 2019 campaign.

“The most disappointing part about not being able to play with Mike was something I had to overcome,” Jack related. “We have played together for as long as I can remember and that’s something special. Not every kid gets to have what we have.

“I wasn’t the one to get the surgery, but I knew what he was going to have to go through (rehabbing and not playing senior season) and how rough that path was going to be. I know he will do amazing in college, not only because of his skill level but because of his work ethic.”

As a freshman, this was going to be the only time Colt Emerson was going to have the chance to play high school baseball at John Glenn with senior brother Brady.

“My whole life I’ve been looking forward to this year where this is the only time I will play sports with my brother ... maybe ever again,” the top-ranked 2023 in the state said. “It is really disappointing to know that I’m not able to play with him for his senior season.”

Instead, the younger Emerson will listen to words of wisdom from his older brother, a senior committed to Ohio State.

“Brady’s advice was it’s tough right now, but take the next three years and work hard, enjoy it and don’t take it for granted,” Colt related.

Sophomore Henry Kaczmar was able to play one season with his older brother Stanley at Walsh Jesuit, but year two is now out of the question.

“The most disappointing part is definitely just knowing the fact that I won’t be able to play on the same field with him again,” Henry said of Stanley, who is going on to play baseball at the next level at Wittenberg. ”Last year was one of the best years of my life for the baseball side of things and I believe that a lot of that came from having the chance to play with him behind the plate. Not being able to play with him again is very upsetting for both my family and myself.”

Adding to it, their father Chris is the head coach at Walsh Jesuit.

“This has been tough on our family,” Henry explained. “Of course they would like to see us play on the field again together one final time, but more importantly watch my brother play in his senior year. Your senior year is huge for anyone in any aspect of sports or school, and to have that taken away from you is simply heartbreaking.”

The head of the family can feel for his sons.

“Within the context of high school athletics and spring baseball, the disappointment in not being able to coach my oldest son Stanley one more time at Walsh Jesuit is about as heartbreaking as it gets,” the Walsh Jesuit head coach said. “Our family had been looking forward to this particular year, where both of our sons Stanley and Henry, and our nephew Mason Eckelman, could be on the field for once in their lives together at the very same time.

“It’s hard not to be very sad about it, and most so for Stanley and all of our seniors at Walsh Jesuit and across Ohio and beyond.”

But the younger Kaczmar sees one ray of light to take from it all.

“All throughout high school you look forward to your own senior year, and the relationships you’ve built leading up to that,” Henry said. “To have that taken away is extremely saddening and difficult for my brother and everyone in the senior class. With that being said, I know he has made friends for life.”

Levi GazarekAnother father-and-son relationship missing out on one final year with baseball is Marty and Levi Gazarek at North Baltimore.

“I guess the most disappointing thing of not getting to coach Levi is the fact that it is his senior season … his final year of high school baseball,” Marty said. “I’ve been coaching him ever since he's been six-years-old so it was kind of hard and disappointing to not get to do it one more time.

“He has really grown a lot since his junior year, I think last year at this time he was weighing about 230 and right now he is weighing in about 250. In bullpen sessions in early March before we got shut down with everything he was looking real good with his velocity increasing and his off-speed pitches coming together more. I was really looking forward to enjoying that senior season of watching him grow even more as a pitcher.”

The 47th-ranked senior in Ohio is a Bowling Green commit in both football and baseball.

“The most disappointing part of not being able to play my senior year of baseball for my dad is that this was the one last go-around with him as my head coach … getting to put on that hometown uniform and go out there and compete for the man that taught me everything since T-Ball really hurts,” Levi said. “I wanted to give him everything I had on the field one more time, running into the dugout and giving him a high-five every inning, or getting to look at him at third base when I’m up to bat. The little stuff like that hurts the most.”

At Sylvania Southview, the Danzeisens will also miss out on one final season at the park.

“I was really looking forward to my senior season, partly because of my dad,” Logan Danzeisen said. “He has coached me since I was 12 so my senior season was going to be one last hooray. It’s definitely a bummer that he won’t be coaching me anymore, but I wouldn’t be the player I am today without him. I am extremely grateful for him and all that he has done.”

His father, Kevin Danzeisen, summed up the feelings of so many in just a few words.

“The most disappointing thing for me is we won't be able to celebrate any ‘lasts’ together,” Danzeisen said. “But I’m very grateful for the time we had.”

AHEAD: Part six of this story will look at the last year of a head coach, Prep Baseball Report’s view on the lost season, and any lasting regrets.