Member of ‘Mount Rushmore’ of Lakota West baseball returns as head coach

Former Lakota West baseball standout Brad Gschwind is the new coach of the Firebirds. JOURNAL-NEWS FILE PHOTO
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Former Lakota West baseball standout Brad Gschwind is the new coach of the Firebirds. JOURNAL-NEWS FILE PHOTO

Brad Gschwind was member of the Firebirds’ 2007 state championship team

Brad Gschwind was a member of the 2007 state championship baseball team at Lakota West High School and still holds several of the program’s batting records.

Now, he will get a chance to give the Firebirds some of the same experiences he enjoyed as a player.

The former shortstop and Lakota Athletic Hall of Famer has been named West's new baseball coach, pending school board approval. He replaces Greg Leurck, who left after three seasons to assume the same position at his alma mater La Salle.

Gschwind will be introduced at a “Meet the team” event July 10 at West.

“I’m very excited to come back,” Gschwind said. “It’s always been a program and a school that is special to me. Obviously, it’s the school I went to. My parents went to Lakota, I met wife at Lakota, and the baseball program meant a lot to me. Coach (Bill) Dreisbach was a great mentor to me, and I’m just excited to be back.”

As a senior at West in 2007, Gschwind set the season records for batting average (.544), slugging percentage (.864), hits (56), triples (six), extra-base hits (21) and RBIs (45), and over his four-year career, he established career records in at-bats (346), plate appearances (424), hits (135), triples (10) and extra-base hits (39). His records still stand today.

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Following his stellar career at West, Gschwind played four years at Miami University. He earned his degree in physical education, and then served as a volunteer assistant at Xavier University, where the Musketeers win the Big East title in 2014. He has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach at Northern Kentucky University.

“He’s so well known and well respected in our community, not only as a coach but just as a person,” West athletic director Scott Kaufman said. “When I heard he was interested in coaching here, it was a no-brainer. I called Bill Dreisbach and asked about him, and Bill told me ‘If there was a Mount Rushmore for Lakota West baseball, Brad would be on it. Anytime you have the opportunity to bring someone home who has that much respect in the community, you don’t hesitate. It was a pretty easy decision, and we’re excited about it.”

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West, which is coming off a 16-11 finish this spring, has twice made the Final Four since Gschwind and the Firebirds won the program’s only title in 2007, including a semifinalist finish in 2017.

Gschwind said he would love to take West back to a championship but that’s not his top priority.

“That would be great, but the most important thing is creating opportunities for the players that are there to have as good a time as possible and create the experiences I had,” Gschwind said. “It was an opportunity I was fortunate to have playing for coach Dreisbach and I just want to give them a good experience.”

Dustin Huff (left) and Brad Gschwind jump during their celebratory lap, after defeating Mentor in the state title game Sunday morning at Cooper Stadium in Columbus. JOURNAL-NEWS FILE PHOTO
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Dustin Huff (left) and Brad Gschwind jump during their celebratory lap, after defeating Mentor in the state title game Sunday morning at Cooper Stadium in Columbus. JOURNAL-NEWS FILE PHOTO

While this is Gschwind’s first stint coaching high school baseball, it’s not his first head coaching job. He also managed the Cincinnati Steam of the Great Lakes Collegiate Summer League in 2014.

Gschwind said he especially looks forward to the teaching aspect of high school baseball and having the chance to aid in the development of young players.

Kaufman doesn’t expect him to immediately bring titles to the program just because of his experience winning one at West.

“State championships are hard to come by,” Kaufman said. “We play in a challenging league, in a challenging region. In 21 years, we’ve won one title and been to two other Final Fours. I just want him to continue the strong tradition that we’ve had here with coach Dreisbach and coach Leurck.”

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