By Anthony Williams
A lot has changed at Bordentown Little League in the last few years.
By helping to secure upgrades like the new flagpole and the modernized dugouts, Matt Kohnke has been busy remodeling the organization as a coach and officer of the Board of Directors.
“I just love working with kids and watching them grow,” Kohnke said.
Kohnke’s commitment goes beyond working with the kids.
People around the league said he has been the driving force behind creating the league’s first grass infield, an underground sprinkler system, updating the lights to Little League safety standards and the construction of a 6,000 square foot indoor batting facility at Gilder Field.
It’s not hard to see why the coaches and Board of Directors have saluted Kohnke for his decade of service to the league.
“Matt played a very important role in getting the indoor facility completed,” said John Schroeder, a former board member and all-star coach. “It had been on the table for a couple of years, but we weren’t taking the appropriate steps to get the task accomplished. He helped secure a loan for the project, tightened up the fundraising, and when most of us were home with our families, Matt was out in the community working to ensure this facility became a reality.”
Kohnke coached his sons Matthew and Jonathan, 15 and 11, at Bordentown Little League, and quickly gained the respect of the other coaches in the league. He joined the board in his third season and spent time as the secretary, president of baseball, league president and vice president of softball and baseball. He currently holds that last position.
Kohnke was the president of the league when the Bordentown 12-year old All Stars won their first Little League State Championship in 2008.
“I have done a lot of things with Bordentown Little League and made a lot of friends, but I really enjoyed winning the minor league championship two years ago with my son Jonathan,” Kohnke said.
Kohnke knows he isn’t the sole reason for the changes around the league, and credits a lot of other people with the transformation.
“The past and present board members collaborated on a vision for Bordentown Little League’s future, and you are now starting to see that vision come to fruition,” Kohnke said.
Kohnke said Pat Donahue was instrumental in getting the indoor facility built, Len Ricosoli puts in a tremendous amount of time and effort with the fields and maintenance, and John Schroeder has been supportive with baseball and softball volunteering as a coach and being a member of the board.
As Kohnke’s efforts to improve Bordentown Little League have ramped up, so has the level of play. During Kohnke’s tenure, Bordentown won its first District 12 title, regional title and state title.
“We have become a respected member of District 12,” Kohnke said. “Our 12-year-olds should compete for another district championship, and the future is looking bright for Bordentown Baseball with strong 10 and 11 year old all star teams.”
Despite the success Kohnke has brought to Bordentown Little League, he does see an end to his days with the league coming, so he can focus on his children as they get older.
“I’m going to do this for at least another year,” Kohnke said. “But I am going to find ways to stay active within the league, whether it’s as a coach, umpire, field maintenance or wherever they can find a spot for me.”
Minor league manager B.J. Pedersen, a 15-year veteran, summed up Kohnke’s time with the league by saying, “He has been an integral part of this organization from day one. Matt has spent every ounce of his energy to improving our league, its facilities and ensuring that Bordentown Little League is strong and proud for years to come, even beyond his retirement.”