Every kid dreams of what they want to do when they get older. Some dream of being a doctor, a lawyer, or a firefighter, while many dream of becoming a professional athlete. Roger Kieschnick’s dreams weren’t different from his peers when he was growing up, the only difference was that he had the natural talents and put in the hard work to make his dreams come true.
Kieschnick’s lifelong dream of becoming a professional baseball player began at a very young age, and so did his interest in playing for Team USA and representing his country on an international stage.
“I remember when I was a little kid, I used to collect baseball cards and I remember going through a big stack of them and I pull out this one with a USA jersey and a hat,” Kieschnick said. “I can’t remember what the player’s name was, I just remember thinking how cool it would be to wear that jersey and hat and have that on the front of your jersey. I knew if I ever had the opportunity to do it, I would absolutely jump at it.”
After an impressive high school career at Rockwall High School in Dallas, Texas, Kieschnick committed to Texas Tech University. Kieschnick shined in Lubbock, becoming one of the most heralded freshmen in Red Raiders history, earning Freshman All-American honors, Big 12 Freshman of the Year and a chance to try out for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in the summer.
The tryout period was a blur for Kieschnick, but he can still remember the moment that he was told that he made the 2006 Collegiate National Team.
“Brandon Crawford was my roommate, I remember it was the night that they were making all of the announcements and we were in our room,” Kieschnick remembers. “Tim Corbin was the manager and I remember that we got a knock on our room and Brandon comes to the door and coach Corbin says “Hey, I need to speak to both of you.” I walk up and he says “You’re on the team.” It was a great feeling being able to put the uniform on. It was really special.” Kieschnick went on to help Team USA to wins in the U.S. vs. Chinese Taipei Series and the U.S. vs. Japan Series, but the highlight of the campaign was winning a gold medal at the FISU World Championships in Havana, Cuba. Standing on the podium with the gold medal around his neck is something that Kieschnick will never forget.
“There is just something special about being able to have a medal around your neck and looking up and seeing the flag,” Kieschnick said. “I don’t think there is a better feeling to have that and feel that and to win something for your country.”
The following summer, Kieschnick earned another spot on the Collegiate National Team. Team USA earned an overall record of 25-12 in the summer, including a runner-up finish at the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Kieschnick once again shined, tying for the team lead with seven home runs, while finishing second with 26 RBIs.
Following his stint with the Collegiate National Team in 2007, Kieschnick returned to Lubbock for his junior season. After the 2008 campaign, he was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the third round of the MLB First-Year Players Draft. He finished his career at Texas Tech with a batting average of .322 (222-for-689), including 54 doubles, 39 homers and 156 RBI.
Kieschnick began his professional career with a solid start, hitting .296 with 23 homers and eight triples in 2009. In all, Kieschnick made five minor league all-star teams, before making his MLB debut with the Giants in 2013, where he earned two hits and recorded two RBIs against the Phillies. Kieschnick played in 38 games for the Giants before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he made 25 appearances in MLB games.
After his retirement from playing the game in 2016, Kieschnick got a chance to follow his second childhood dream, becoming a coach.
“The amazing thing about USA Baseball, and especially the national teams, is being around some of the coaches that are on those staffs. Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to be a coach. That has always been my goal, especially when I got done playing.”
After returning to Texas Tech to earn his bachelor’s degree, he landed his first coaching job at McLennan Community College, where he served as the hitting and outfielders’ coach. Kieschnick enjoyed two successful seasons at McLennan that included a Regional V Championship and a trip to the NJCAA World Series that culminated in a fifth-place finish in the country in 2017. Kieschnick is now in his first season as an assistant coach at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He points to his time playing for Team USA and learning from some of the best coaches in the country as inspirations on how he models his coaching style.
“Being on the USA Team, you are around some of the best coaches in the country. Learning from coach (Tim) Corbin, coach (Jim) Schlossnagle, and coach (Rob) Cooper, you can name them all,” Kieschnick said. “That’s the cool thing about coaching, everyone has their own style and you try to implement some of the things they do into what they do. That’s the cool part about it.”
Many of Kieschnick’s dreams have come true and they have happened just as he had planned. However, there are some dreams that are bigger in real-life than you could ever dream, like earning a gold medal for your country. For Roger Kieschnick, living out his dreams on the diamond and off it has been a blessing.