Kosobucki brothers hold catching camp in De Pere
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – While growing up in De Pere, Kyle and Kaden Kosobucki learned the art of playing catcher.
The brothers — who are four years apart — didn’t have many options locally, though, to get instruction on the position.
For the Kosobuckis to receive first-hand training, they had to travel and dish out some money.
Now, as college baseball players, the Kosobucki boys are making it easy and affordable for young, aspiring catchers in the area to learn the position.
For the third straight year, they volunteered their time to run the Kosobucki Catching Camp.
The one-day camp Dec. 27 had 35 kids broken up into two age groups: 9- to 11-year-olds and 11- to 14-year-olds.
The Kosobuckis said they love offering the free camp.
“It’s great because growing up, there was nothing catching-wise for us,” Kaden said. “We had the (Jason) Berken camp, but that was always pitching. As a catcher, there wasn’t much offered unless you drove somewhere. Growing up, looking at the older kids, I wanted to be like them. Even having a conversation with them felt amazing. If I was in a position like this as a kid, it would be cool to get coached by guys you look up to.”
Kyle, a 2017 West De Pere graduate, spent 3 1/2 years playing baseball at Division II Winona State University before transferring to Division III Concordia University Wisconsin.
He’s a fifth-year senior this season.
Kaden, who graduated from West De Pere in 2021, is a freshman at Division I Northern Illinois University.
“It was a dream of mine to play college baseball or a college sport,” Kyle said. “Showing them there are two kids in the community out of the same family who we’re able to make it to the college level shows if you put in the work and have the drive, you can become a college athlete. It’s rewarding for us to show them it’s possible.”
Kyle and Kaden focused on a few specific areas during the camp for each age group.
The big ones were blocking, preventing runners from advancing bases, as well as receiving and trying to steal as many pitches as possible.
For the advanced group, the Kosobuckis zoomed in on transitions and recovering blocks because runners are more active as they get older.
Ethan Collar is a 14-year-old who lives across the street from the Kosobucki family.
He was taking part in his second camp.
Collar said he wanted to get further advancement from what he learned two years ago.
“How to block better and do your fundamentals better and trying to throw faster when the runner is stealing,” Collar, who was in the advanced camp, said. “Learning about release time — trying to get up and throw it as fast as you can.”
Collar said he knows the instruction will help him become a better-rounded player.
“It doesn’t only make you better, but it makes your team better and helps your team win,” he said.
Owen Wall, an 11-year-old who plays for the De Pere 12U squad, said he found the beginners’ camp informative and thought it was neat to pick up the ins and outs of the position from two local athletes.
“I learned blocking and how to catch the ball cleanly,” he said. “With bunting, how to get the guy out.”
Ready for good seasons
Both Kyle and Kaden have been preparing for their upcoming college seasons.
It will be Kyle’s final year, so he said he’s looking to end on a positive note.
Last season, he appeared in 39 games for Concordia and hit .308 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs, earning all-conference honors.
Kyle said he should be locked into the starting role this season, but the number of games he’ll catch is uncertain.
“The talk right now is I’ll be catching all 40 (games) or splitting some time with other guys,” he said.
Kaden, in his first season playing college baseball, had an accomplished career for the Phantoms.
He started three years, and his junior campaign was wiped out due to COVID-19.
Kaden earned all-state honorable mention nods as a freshman and senior.
During his final season, he hit .375.
At Northern Illinois, he said he’s hoping to step in and start.
He’ll be competing against a fifth-year senior and junior for the job.
“The biggest thing is going there competing, having confidence, knowing I’m there for a reason and whatever happens, happens,” Kaden said.
With the college baseball season approaching, the brothers said they enjoyed getting back home and teaching young catchers during the holiday break.
“Every year, it’s been lots of fun doing it,” Kyle said. “It will be something we’ll continue to do.”