Educator: Mark Bohling. School: Bucks County Community College in Newtown, where he completed his first season as baseball coach. What he has done: Bohling led the Bucks County Community College Centurions to this year's Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference baseball championship. The team won the title by beating the first- and second-seeded teams in the tournament, ending the season with a 7-8 record.
Bucks County Community College in Newtown, where he completed his first season as baseball coach.
What he has done:
Bohling led the Bucks County Community College Centurions to this year's Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference baseball championship. The team won the title by beating the first- and second-seeded teams in the tournament, ending the season with a 7-8 record.
Bohling, 33, of Warrington, joined the college after studying physical education at West Virginia University. He earned three master's degrees from the school, and served for four years in the Air Force, prompted by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
He has played baseball since he was four, and also coaches women's volleyball at the college and boys' volleyball at Central Bucks High School South in Warrington. He teaches emergency response training, nutrition, personal wellness, badminton and other subjects.
In March, Bohling appeared on the Spike cablenet show
Pros vs. Joes,
a reality program that pits amateur athletes against pros in an athletic competition. Bohling stepped into the ring with former championship boxer Arturo Gatti, and lasted 1 1/2 minutes. Even so, Bohling called the show "a great experience."
Love of baseball:
"I enjoyed it," Bohling said. "I never had the pressure of a yelling dad. It was enjoyable just being around nine and 10 other players that loved the same thing, the social aspect; we had a common interest and common goals."
Love of other games:
"I dabbled in a number of other things - track, cross country - and I picked up volleyball after high school and it became my second love."
"I wanted to serve my country, and I felt I owed it to my country. All the things we take for granted: the freedom and the ability to say and do what we want. I went in as an officer in 2002."
"It was something I always kind of naturally done. I've coached T-ball, Little League, and at West Virginia did a lot of volunteer work.
"I love teaching kids. I just love seeing a kid love something for what it is. They're not trying to be the new [Derek] Jeter or [Michael] Jordan. It's the purist form. It's 'I learn to the hit the ball today,' and there's a smile from ear to ear."
Coaching the big boys:
"The hardest thing is to get your players to believe in the philosophy of the purist form and enjoy it for what it is. It's hard to sit back and let things happen."
Try it; you'll like it:
"This season is a perfect example. It was getting them to believe in the philosophy of working hard right now and correcting the things you think are so basic or think you know.
"Once they relax and start doing it, then you start seeing the success."
"It was amazing. We started with around 24 players, and ended up with 11. It's a unique athlete when you come to community college. They work and have other obligations.
"As a coach, I tend to be strict. You have a responsibility [to the team], you fulfill it. More and more, they couldn't fulfill it and they let me know.
"So I had players who played whatever role I needed them to play that day. We found pitchers in guys who hadn't pitched in four or five years."
"Our record was 3-5 in the conference going into the playoffs, and the last part of the season, we started turning it up. To be honest, the coaches and I sat around in amazement as well.
"The last two games of the season, we absolutely destroyed those teams, and that was the start of the push of giving the guys confidence to go through the finals and do something."
"The pitching was phenomenal. That will take you so far, but you have to have offense behind you. That's what happened. Every one of our players were hitting. It was just unbelievable."
What the assistant athletic director says:
"He brings a lot of enthusiasm," Scott Bradshaw said. "It's his first year at Bucks. He's also a full-time teacher and the head women's volleyball coach, so he keeps busy.
"But I think it's his relationship skills with the student athletes that puts him over the top. He's there all the time, and obviously, he's been able to build some positive relationships with the students."
- Kristin E. Holmes