Tuesday, June 20, 2017

FMHS grad Ramirez made wise investment choosing coaching

Decisions. Decisions. You’re fresh out of college. Do you take the $50,000 a year job with a major investment firm? Or the $3-4,000 job helping coach the game you love for your nearby community college?

Chris Ramirez didn’t have to think long about that. The 2001 Fort Madison High School graduate opted to be the assistant baseball coach under Justin Schulte for Southeastern Community College, a year after graduating from High Point University in 2005.

Ramirez had a state championship on his résumé from high school and played four years of collegiate baseball. Why give up a good thing?

Besides: “I wasn’t ready to go buy a bunch of suits and sit in an office all day,” Ramirez said of rejecting an offer to be a financial advisor for American Express Financial Advisors.

Twelve years later, Ramirez is still coaching the game he loves, and now he’s a successful head coach at University of Illinois Springfield. He took over the fledgling three-year-old program four seasons ago and has kept raising the bar of expectations. The school had won no more than 12 games when he took job. The victory count so far has been: 22, 28, 28 and 33.

Ramirez grew up in Fort Madison and a fond memory was practicing and playing baseball with his father, Mike. But he wasn’t just an all-state baseball player. He competed for the Bloodhounds in football and basketball all four years, plus three spring seasons in tennis and his senior year in track. This, however, was back when being a four-sport, four-year athlete was no big deal (see separate story).

He committed to play baseball for Iowa State University. But the school dropped the program, so he went to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. There he started as the centerfield and was the closer on the pitching staff. He finished his college career with two years at Highpoint University, a small Division I program in North Carolina. He graduated with a business degree, but still had hopes for a career path to the major leagues. The opportunity never came.

 Then he was offered the high-paying job of financial advisor for American Express. At the same time, however, a call from his former coach — legendary Norway coach Jim Van Scoyoc — at Kirkwood, who informed Ramirez that Schulte, a former Norway standout, had taken the baseball coach at SCC. “(Schulte) offered me $3-4,000,” Ramirez said. “I called and turned down the $50,000 job at Greensboro.” He worked a golf course in the morning to make some extra money, “like a lot of coaches have to do to get started,” Ramirez said.

“I think it’s such an impressional age group,” Ramirez said. “You get to work with these young men and develop them. “Ultimately my message as a coach is to get these young men ready for life after baseball,”

This story appeared in The Fort Madison Daily Democrat.

Read the entire article online.