Harlamert Happy To Continue Coldwater Tradition


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Harlamert Happy To Continue Coldwater Tradition

COLDWATER - The Coldwater baseball tradition has continued just nicely under the guidance of Brian Harlamert.

A 1990 Coldwater graduate, Harlamert played baseball for Lou Brunswick, one of the most successful high school coaches ever in Ohio who totaled 750 victories in his 35 years in charge of the Cavaliers. After Gabby Wilker was head coach from 1994-97, Harlamert returned to his alma mater and took over the reins in 1998.

Now 24 years into his tenure, the 50-year-old recently picked up his 500th victory as head coach at Coldwater.

“It’s very satisfying to have that many wins and that many years,” Harlamert said. “It’s a good feeling to continue what Lou did. I’ve been blessed to have had assistant coaches that are great friends to help along the way.”

Long-time ACME coach Tom Brunswick and high school assistants Mike Moorman, Toby Siefring, Ryan Spriggs and Mike Klenke have been a big part of the success over the years according to Harlamert. The veteran mentor also pointed to current assistant Cory Klenke, now in his seventh year, and Jason Hmmelgarn, a 29-year assistant who is not in the dugout for the first time this season, as being vital in making the Coldwater program what it is today.

“I think what we’ve done is continue the legacy of what Lou started,” explained Harlamert, who had a 490-143 record at Coldwater heading into the 2021 season. “So many have helped … When I retire and give this to someone else, I’m going to say ‘continue what Lou started.’ 

“We have done the right thing the right way. That’s what I’ve strived to do. We prepare them to go out and play the right way.”

Coach Lou is proud to have had Harlamert carry on what he established during his 35 years at the helm of the program from 1959-93.

“To have someone like Brian that loves baseball keep the tradition going is great,” noted the 91-year-old Brunswick, who remembers Harlamert from his playing days at Coldwater.

“He played center field, was a left-hander and could throw fairly hard,” Brunswick said of Harlamert. “He was a good player, but never got drafted.”

Brunswick, who resides not far from the right-field fence at Coldwater park, was present on the day of win number 500.

“I had Covid health problems at the time and went in the press box,” Brunswick reflected. “After the game Brian came to my home to visit me.”

Harlamert remembers his time as a player under Brunswick and how that has impacted him as a coach.

“When we played we always practiced hard and that’s what we do now,” Harlamert said. “We had competitive practices. We did things that prepare you for games. That’s what I’ve done in my 20-plus years. I took that from Lou.”

Years one and two did not go so well, however, according to Harlamert.

“I remember it fondly,” Harlamert said. “We were 13-11 and 14-11. It was definitely not Coldwater expectations. We had gone to the state Final Four back-to-back when I took over and my first two years were not very good. There was some pain coaching and learning to be successful.”

Success came in year three when the Cavaliers finished 24-4. Only three times since has Coldwater not won at least 20 games, with three state championship game appearances the highlights according to Harlamert.

“Winning state titles was important to the success,” pointed out Harlamert in reference to the 2014 and 2019 state championships and the 2018 runner-up finish. “Those three stand out, especially ’14. I can’t say it was the best team I ever had, but it was the first title and my one son was playing. My youngest son was also a bat boy.”

Sadly, just a year prior Harlamert’s father had passed away, missing out on the opportunity to see the first state championship.

“My dad was always in the back yard playing baseball with me growing up,” Harlamert reflected. “He didn’t miss many games even when I was playing at Dayton. He was a big part of my life as a player. I was very close to my father and my brother when I was playing. Now I have sons playing. It’s been a family affair.”

Evan Harlamert, the bat boy back in 2014, is now a sophomore playing shortstop and catcher on this year’s state-ranked Coldwater team while older son Aaron, is in his first season coaching the Coldwater JV squad.

“He’s planning on being a teacher and coach,” Harlamert said proudly of Aaron, a catcher on the 2014 state championship team who had a key sacrifice bunt in the 10th inning of a 3-2 state semifinal win over Wheelersburg.

Should that happen, there is little doubt that Coldwater coaches over the years will have an influence on him.

“Our guys know from day one that it takes hard work,” Harlamert said of what he as a head coach attempts to bring across to his players in the program. “We’re going to prepare them to play hard and compete. We have a culture to come to practice and come to workouts in the offseason ready to compete and have fun.

“It’s definitely a different society now than it used to be, but in our area I’m blessed. The parents’ expectations are to work hard. Our guys know they have to earn a position and it comes through hard work. We’re trying to prepare them for life. There are going to be ups and downs.

Lou Brunswick“Sure, the game has changed.,” continued Harlamert. “Bats used to be juiced, but pitching and defense have always been important. They are even more important now than they ever were.”

As for how long Harlamert plans to continue coaching, that is as uncertain as where the game will be in another decade or two.

“I know I want to coach my son and my two freshman nephews, so four more years for sure,” Harlamert said.

By then, he will be starting to close in on that magic 750, the number of victories Lou Brunswick obtained in his 35 year tenure as head coach at Coldwater.

“Records are made to be broken,” related Brunswick, who had a record of 750-165 in his time at the school including state championships in 1983, 84, 87, 90 and 92 and runner-up finishes in 77 and 91. “He might be able to catch up with me and I’d be glad to be there. I must have taught him pretty good.”

 

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