By: Athletic Communications Student-Assistant Cannon Dees '20
BEREA, Ohio -- Baldwin Wallace University graduate and former baseball player Ian Forster '18 (North Olmsted) has recently been appointed as a part of Major League Baseball's (MLB) Cleveland Indians coaching staff for the upcoming 2020 season.
His Professional Career Begins by Helping Young Hitters in the Dominican Republic
Forster, an exercise science major at BW, joined the Indians as a member of its Dominican Summer League team as a bench coach. He will be responsible for creating player development programs for the Indians' hitters, tracking their progress, and using that data to continue their development. His duties will start at spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, followed by a summer-long stint with the Indians' Dominican Academy in San Antonio de Guerra, Dominican Republic.
From BW Student and Baseball Player to Coach
While at BW, Forster played four seasons of baseball. The Yellow Jacket letterman made the most of his opportunity foreshadowing what was to come as a coach.
During his senior season on the annual spring break trip to Florida, Forster recorded a double and a run batted-in (RBI) while also earning a victory on the mound in a relief appearance. He was a member of a BW team that set a single-season school-record with 33 wins and won the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament in his final campaign. The Yellow Jackets advanced to a 2018 NCAA Division III New York Regional.
Experiential Learning Was a Key to his New Position
Having graduated less than two years ago, Forster has gained plenty of coaching experience quickly and is well prepared for his new role. He started his coaching career at the travel level while as a student at BW. During his four years as a Yellow Jacket and a part of Brian Harrison's outstanding program, Forster gleaned as much knowledge as he could from Harrison and every member of his staff and was considered a player-coach.
Following graduation, Forster, with the help of Harrison, accepted a graduate assistantship at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) where he worked with the hitters, outfielders and base runners. Last spring, the ENMU batters hit .288 and stole 114 bases to rank 14th among NCAA Division II. One player broke the school-record for stolen base percentage by being a perfect 20-for-20 in stolen base attempts. His mentorship also led to the school's first Lone Star Conference Hitter of the Week honor in nine seasons.
Following his ENMU experience, Forster was acquired by the Omaha Railriders of the Corn Belt College Summer League as its head coach for the 2019 season. For his efforts, Forster was selected to coach first base at the annual Corn Belt All-Star Game. This past fall, he accepted his next coaching challenge at the College of Central Florida where he worked with hitters and outfielders and oversaw the strength and conditioning program.
"At Central Florida I got to dive more into the new technology that's becoming available in the baseball community such as bat sensors, motion capture systems, and other data capturing means" Forster stated. "This is where my undergraduate degree in exercise science from BW, the graduate classes from ENMU, and my experience while working at T3 performance (in Avon, Ohio) as an intern while at BW helped a lot. It allowed me to comprehend, create and deliver individualized player development programs to the team."
Forster Took Advantage of His Opportunities at BW
From the day Forster stepped on the BW campus, he was focused on finding a way to make baseball a lifelong career. From working in the athletic communications office as a student assistant, to the athletic department as a student event manager, to helping Harrison make the Yellow Jackets better, he was front-and-center.
"Ian Forster is a life-long learner when it comes to his development in the sport of baseball," said Harrison, who begins his 10th season at the head coach of the Yellow Jackets. "He loves the art of hitting and has a true passion to help those around him get better.
"This is a great job for him because he is going to learn in one of the most progressive organizations in MLB and have a chance to make a difference in those kids lives in the Dominican Republic," continued Harrison. "We are proud of him, not because of his job, but because of who he is as a person."
Forster Doesn't Take His Yellow Jacket Roots Lightly
Forster makes sure to credit the ones who have helped him along the way.
"Coach Harrison and Assistant Coach Tom DeAngelis have had a huge impact on me from the time I first started coaching," said Forster. "They are outstanding people and teachers of the game. I tried to learn as much as I could from them and apply what I learned to my own players."
"The biggest lesson I learned from watching them is that they're constantly searching for ways to make players better while creating meaningful and lasting relationships with them," continued Forster. "I have carried that knowledge with me throughout my first few coaching experiences, and it has made a big difference in my opinion."
BW Alumni Connection Made a Difference
Another mentor that Forster feels made a difference in his development is BW graduate Chris Check '86, who serves as an associate scout in the Indians' organization, has been a lifelong hitting coach and was a member of BW Hall of Fame Coach Bob Fisher's Yellow Jacket coaching staff in the 2000s.
"I've known Chris for a long time as an associate scout for the Indians as well as some other members of the organization, which was very helpful" said Forster. "I still go to him to this day with questions and for guidance."
BW Faculty Member Factor in Growth
For as much as he learned on the field, Forster also gives credit to the entire BW Health and Physical Education Department as well as BW Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. Alan Kolp for helping him grow as a student and as a person.
"Although he wasn't a part of the HPE Department, Dr. Kolp was one that really stood out to me in my time at BW," said Forster. "I only had one class with him, but it had a tremendous impact on me and changed the way I approached everyday life, school and baseball."