Sam Lesniak absorbed everything about running a baseball program he possibly could while he was playing, student teaching or working as an assistant coach.
That kind of attention benefited Lesniak, 25, who was able to sell himself to Johnsburg administrators when the head baseball coaching position came open late this summer. Lesniak was announced as the Skyhawks’ new coach Wednesday, taking over for Dann Geisey, who left after six seasons to take the head coaching position at Carmel.
“I knew [my age] was a big obstacle,” Lesniak said. “I’ve built a great rapport with the kids and I’ve had great reviews from parents. I had guys like [Plainfield Central coach] Bob Dobbertin and [former Minooka coach] Jeff Petrovic there helping me through with whatever they could. I learned so much about the game from those guys and about running a program.”
Lesniak graduated from Minooka and earned his physical education teaching degree at Western Illinois University. He played for Petrovic in high school and student taught at Plainfield Central, where he worked with Dobbertin, a former Johnsburg resident. He has spent two years on Giesey’s staff, one as freshman coach and last season as varsity assistant.
One advantage for Lesniak is that Johnsburg is loaded with young talent, including sophomore Brandon Krennrich, who will be one of the area’s top catchers. Colin Ridout, Cam Adams, Joe Kass and Kevin Kordic are other top returning players for the Skyhawks.
“This is an incredible opportunity,” Lesniak said. “We have excellent players to work with. I couldn’t be happier about the situation I’m in.”
Lesniak teaches at Johnsburg Middle School and said he has seen more baseball talent coming through that school.
“He’s one of those young coaches who understands what needs to be done for the program,” Johnsburg athletic director Trevor Leopold said. “He gets it. He’s one of those people who get it. He was an internal guy, teaching in the district, and we feel he is ready to be a head baseball coach.”
Another Johnsburg assistant coach, Tim Dunderdale, recently was hired as the head coach at Westminster Christian.
Westminster has been a good Class 1A program in Elgin. Dunderdale does not teach at the school, but owns a business in Woodstock. He worked with Geisey for the six years he was at Johnsburg.