Pomplun uses baseball as life learning tool

Baseball is a game of failure. This is no secret to anyone who knows the game; who h as been around it as long as Jerry Pomplun has. Pomplun, who finished his 9th season as Broken Bow’s Legion baseball coach this past summer, chalked up yet another successful season. In a game full of failures, Broken Bow- the smallest school under the Class B roof,-has seen plenty of successes under Pomplun. In his nine seasons, Broken Bow has been to the district championship six times, winning three of them. “We get on the same page and we decide that the team is first,” Pomplun said. “Once we get on board with that, that’s how we can be successful. If that doesn’t happen, there’s no way that we could do what we do. Not with a town this size.” Broken Bow has seen eight players go on and play college baseball under Pomplun’s watch. Pomplun is unsure of whether he will coach a tenth season or not, but either way, his legacy has already been written. His 182-84 record over his nine seasons amounts to a .684 winning percentage. If Pomplun, a father of four, does decide to coach another season, it will be just the second season that he wont have a child on the team. He has had either his son Micah or Kirby for eight of the nine seasons he has coached. Micach, who has assisted his dad in coaching in recent years will hope to be signed by a major league team when he attends tryouts towards the end of the summer. “It will be different,” Jerry Pomplun said. “It will be fine though. We’ve had a good eight years doing it together.” There have been a lot of things said about Jerry Pomplun over the years, but one common term is “old school.” Pomplun has been known to make a mean face at times and isn’t opposed to raising his voice when the time comes. Surround the man with family members, and a softer side of him comes out. Baseball and family have always gone hand-in-hand for the Pompluns’. “I don’t like my players to see me being soft,” Pomplun said with a laugh. “I do have a soft spot when it comes to my grandkids though. My family has always been a big part of this beccause of the amount of time it takes for me to coach.” He also knows how difficult it can be at times for his kids, who have this distinction of a parent and coach relationship. “He’s harder on me than everyone else sometimes, but he really knows the game,” Kirby said following the team’s loss to Seward in the state tournament. “He’s a great coach.” Jerry has seen and experienced some tough things throughout his coaching career, but the toughest is a factor that may never go away- the environment. Being in a small town, most of his players each year play at least one other sport. He feels that, while its great they are involved and active, it can have an effect on his season. “It’a all the directions the kids are going to be pulled in,” Pomplun said. “You get home from midnight from a road game, then you get up at 7:30 in the morning and lift weights three or four times a week, plus their jobs. That’s the toughest thing as a baseball coach right now in this town. kids don’t have time to be kids anymore.” A suggestion Pomplun makes is for the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) to step in and take action. The NSAA has what is called a moritorium, which is a five-day break from all high school sanctioned team events. The NSAA has this during the holiday season to give high school athletes time with their friends and families. Pomplun would like to see the NSAA step in and enforce an 8-week break during the summer. “I also think thats why you see so many more injuries,” Pomplun said. “These kids that play three or four sports; its tough on them. I don’t blame the coaches here though, because it’s everywhere.” Another difficulty for Pomplun came just this past season when he lost Chad Christensen, who pitched and helped out in the infield, for the season when he was severely injured in a car accident. Christensen was due to make his first start on the mound in the team’s next game when the accident happened. “What hurt so bad for me was that Chad was that he likes baseball and is dedicated to baseball as much as anybody on that team. Nobody liked it and worked harder at it than Chad.It was really hard for me.to see that happen to a kid who put so much time and effort into it and then have it taken away from him.” It was Christensen, along with Michael Coleman and Justin McCullough that were down at the field practicing as soon as six weeks before the team officially started practice. He would get messages from him on his phone, one that took a lot of convincing from Kirby to get, asking when practice starts or when other team activities are going to take place. Through the ups and downs and all the players throughout the years, one thing has remained a constant for Pomplun, his pure love for the game. Pomplun played for Broken Bow High School during his playing days. He then had offers to play baseball, basketball and football at the next level from colleges and universities around region. At the time, he decided to go in a different direction. Pomplun spent a year on the professional bowling circut before moving back to Broken Bow where the Pomplun family ran the Pleasure Lanes bowling alley in Broken Bow. The family ran and operated the alley until 2010 when they sold it to another owner. “I wish I had done things differently,” Pomplun said of his post-high school decisions. “If I had the chance to do it over again, I would have played baseball and college and concentrated on bowling later.” Pomplun also starred in the men’s fast pitch leagues after coming back from the bowling tour. He helped Bow Elevator to five state slow pitch championships. One came in the second highest classification in the state at the time. “That was really fun,” Pomplun said. “It didn’t get much better than that.” It was his love for baseball that guided him back to the program in 2004. For Pomplun, baseball is like a giant game of chess. “I love the strategy of it,” Pomplun said. “ There’s something to think about on every pitch. There’s so many things that can happen on every swing of the bat.” While there are plenty of in- game decisions that need to be made, Pomplun also knows that there are decisions made in a moment during the game that could effect one of his players down the line. “All of my decisions aren’t based on what’s happening right now,” Pomplun said. “It’s based on how is a kid going to react to this now, so he’s prepared for the end of the season?” “Maybe you leave a pitcher in longer than most people in the stands think you should. There’s reasoning behind that too. We want this kid to get tough and know he can get through a situation.” To Pomplun, baeball teaches more than just in-game baseball situations. He also feels that the game teaches his players important life lessons that they can use off the field. “Just watching the kids work and give all the effort they have is satisfying,” Pomplun said. “Baseball is a game of failure. There’s tons of adversity. It doesn’t always go well.Watching kids learning to accept that and move on from it and grow from it is really great to watch.” For Grayson Minnick, who finished his first season with Pomplun while playing behind the plate, the feeling between player and coach is mutual. “He’s a good coach,” Minnick said. “He wants us to do as well as we can and he does everything possible to help us and make sure that happens.” In a game full of failures, Pomplun has brough success to the little Class B town that is Broken Bow. While his future in the dugout remains unclear, there is one thing that has been made clear. Every player that goes through his progam will become a better baseball player, a better team player and a better man. There aren’t many people who wouldn’t call that a success