Local player, coach and advocate for Lloydminster baseball Kevin Kusch has been named to the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2021.
Kusch was inducted last Saturday at a ceremony that also inducted 11 other people who helped forward baseball in Saskatchewan.
Kusch was recognized not only for his playing career, but also for his work as a coach in the Border City, his pushing for enhanced spaces for players, and his time as President of the Saskatchewan Minor Ball Association.
Kusch says it is a humbling experience to be inducted when he thinks about who is the Hall, but he was quick to acknowledge the people who’ve worked with him in the sport, in City administrations, other community supporters, families and players who helped him grow the game.
“Success breeds success, and I think kids were having fun. You made sure that the program itself was fun and all kids would enjoy it at all levels. Whether they wanted to play at the recreational levels, or at a far more competitive level, that’s really what we tried to do by establishing some programs that fit all the kids. Rather than try to fit kids into programs, we tried to fit programs into what kids wanted.”
During his time as the President of the SMBA, which ran from 2000-2018, Kusch helped expand the organization from 27 teams under its flagship to over 300.
He also is described by the Hall of Fame as the architect of Lloydminster’s minor ball programs. This stems from his leading the Lloydminster Synergy Vault project, working to upgrade many of Lloydminster’s baseball diamonds and founding the Lloydminster AAA Midget Northwest Prairie Pirates, the first team at that level in the city’s history.
As a coach in Lloydminster, the Twins to six Provincial Championships, five of them in a row. He also was behind the bench for two Lloydminster teams at Baseball Canada National Championships, with one of those teams winning as the best team in Western Canada.
Kusch says baseball expanding so much in Lloydminster has been a positive for the community because it gives people involved lifelong lessons and the desire to always be growing as people and athletes.
“There’s no age limit on it. It’s a sport that can be played forever until the body says, you know, ‘no more,’ but then as you go through it, you can do other things to be involved like coaching and supporting kids like that. Throughout the years, it’s always been fun to not just win the championships, although it is great to see kids succeed, but it’s great when you see some of the former kids come back and give back to the game.”
Kusch adds he’s excited to see the game and players come back from COVID restrictions, saying he’s got the itch to get coaching on the diamond once again and get Lloydminster back to playing ball.