TEUTOPOLIS — Twenty years ago, a group of little boys regularly gathered at the baseball field near the old Green Creek School north of Effingham.
"We would play baseball all summer," recalled Mitch Koester, one of those boys. "We'd set it up to where we would only have half an infield, or half an outfield.
"We'd be out there every day."
From those modest beginnings, Koester became a baseball standout, both at Teutopolis High School and in summer ball for four straight Babe Ruth League state champions. In high school, Koester led Wooden Shoe teams to state tournament appearances in both baseball and basketball.
But it was baseball where Koester truly made his mark. He accepted a scholarship to Purdue University, where he played four years. After a brief stint of high school coaching, he became an assistant coach at Kaskaskia College. A few years later, he became the head coach, where he remains today.
Koester was the featured speaker at Wednesday's Community Celebration of Excellence, sponsored by the Effingham County Vision 2020 community development organization. Wednesday's breakfast was held at the Teutopolis Knights of Columbus Hall.
For more on the speaker and event, see Thursday's print edition of the Daily News.