Having played and coached at the high school, college, and professional levels, Head Coach Kevin Graber has led Andover Baseball to three Central New England Prep School Baseball League Championships. Graber came to Andover in 2008 and served as assistant coach for one year before taking over as head coach the following season.
Graber is currently in three halls of fame: the Schenectady New York Baseball Hall of Fame, St. Roses Athletic Hall of Fame, and most recently, the Amsterdam Mohawks Hall of Fame.
Graber played baseball at Winthrop University before transferring to The College of Saint Rose to finish his collegiate career. He also played in the New York Collegiate Baseball League throughout college and played minor league baseball as well. He then went on to play overseas in the Greater Brisbane League in Australia.
Soon after his playing career ended, Graber coached professional baseball for four years. He then went on to coach at the collegiate level, working at the University of Alabama for two years and Amherst College for eight years before coming to Andover.
According to an interview with The Phillipian, Graber enjoys coaching high school because of the players, and he enjoys coaching at Andover specifically because he can shape the team around the ideals of the school.
Graber said, “The values of the program and the values that I believe in fall in line with the values of the school. This makes it easy to have a program in which it’s about those things.”
Both on and off the field, Graber strives to mold each of his players into the best people they can be.
Co-Captain Payton Jancsy ’16 said, “KG has been the best baseball coach I have ever had. He doesn’t care just for our production on the field, but how we are doing academically, socially – and everything in between.”
Post-Graduate (PG) Richie Ciufo ’16 said, “He’s helped me improve as a player, but more importantly, [as] a person. He instills hard work and sportsmanship in us.”
Rather than dwelling on past experiences or looking too far into the future, Graber focuses on what players can do to improve from day to day.
“It is to be the hardest worker at practice, today. Support your teammate, today. Ask someone how they’re doing, how their day was. Challenge someone to work a little bit harder. Ask someone what you can do to help. Play as if today may be the last day you ever have the opportunity to play baseball,” said Graber.
Jancsy said, “KG always reminds us that nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. The biggest thing on our team is coming to practice everyday with high energy and a certain level of intensity.”
Ciufo said, “He never forgets to preach the ‘little things’ to us, like running hard on and off the field, which many people would overlook.”
Graber emphasizes the conduct of his players off the field as well as their attitudes during games.
Graber said, “[The team] has to represent the program really well. For us that means, be nice to people. Hold the door open for somebody. Sit in the front of the class, be engaged. Make sure your teachers are getting the best of you. Just make sure you are doing all of those little things that make this place as a community a better place.”
Using his past experience with baseball, Graber looks to instill his knowledge on the team to help it improve.
Jancsy said, “He has taught me a ton about the game. When I came to Andover, I had only been a catcher, but with KG’s help I have learned to play first base, second base, and the outfield. He is extremely knowledgeable about the techniques of the game, but is even better when it comes to getting a team to come together as one.”
PG Matt Wesoloski ’16 said, “KG has been a huge help for me especially, from the first day I got here he was working with me on pitching mechanics. In addition, he has been keeping positional players and pitchers on a schedule making sure we get our work in, and I think that is a significant reason for our success so far.”
Andover has an experienced team this year, including eight returning players and three PGs. The team has also had a strong start to the season, winning its first five games and only recently falling to Worcester in a double-header.
Graber said, “We just have to continue to take care of business and support each other and play hard and not get complacent.”
“The goals for the season are to keep working hard, and to make adjustments,” he continued. “We want to always continue to access what we can do better and try to do better but also just have a lot of fun along the way.”