A Hall of Fame Career
Waverly, IA - Today, January 18, 2020, will go down as a special day for Wartburg Baseball head coach Joel Holst.
Holst will be inducted into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame on Saturday, but even on a day where his career will be commemorated for all of its achievements, Holst said it is not about him.
“It’s about those great kids that I’ve had the chance to coach and my family,” Holst said.
Holst is going into his 25th season at the helm of the Wartburg Baseball team and has known next to nothing but success while leading the Knights.
Wartburg has won 16 conference championships and come out on top of over 700 contests under Holst.
They have been to the NCAA Tournament 14 times and have even walked away with a pair of regional championships, finishing as high as fourth at the College World Series in 2005.
Former players describe him as intense on the field and someone who loves the game but also loves his team.
“The man eats, sleeps and breathes ball, but Coach wants to get to know his players and their parents.
He has made Wartburg Baseball feel like one big family,” former pitcher Austin Bohling said.
Along with his time at Wartburg, Holst has also spent four years as the head coach at West Delaware High School and five years at Loras College.
A dual-sport athlete at Coe College, Holst has been around the American Rivers Conference, and
previously named Iowa Conference, for a good portion of his life and was even inducted into the Coe Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.
Holst, like many coaches, has taken bits and pieces from the people he has played for and coached under. He discovered very quickly that coaching was something he had a gift for.
“It’s just been a blessing for me. Teaching and coaching was my calling and I’ve been extremely happy with the route I had a chance to go,” Holst said.
After graduating 25 players in a two-year span between 2017 and 2018, the 2019 season saw Wartburg field one of the youngest teams Holst has had.
With this, came a very tough season as Wartburg finished under .500 for the first time in Holst’s 24 years, but he believes the team is in a great situation to turn things around in 2020 thanks to some of the experience coming back.
“When you’re not successful you need to look and truly evaluate why. I think our guys have done that,” Holst said.
Many players have taken the field for Holst throughout his career and some of them have even come back to the program to serve in a coaching setting, including current assistants Jared Pirkl, Parker Bolt, and Ryan Doty.
Bohling said one of the reasons Holst has had so much success is that he knows how to recruit well and makes you want to be part of Wartburg Baseball.
“I wanted to play for Coach Holst because he believed in me,” Bohling said. “A kid from small-town Iowa had a dream to play college ball and Coach Holst gave me that opportunity. The opportunity I will cherish for a lifetime.”
After all of the championships, NCAA Tournament appearances, and great memories, Holst has a lot to think about when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, but he said there is really only one thing that will be going through his head.
“As I said before, it’s about those kids and it’s amazing to see all of them be successful as parents and so successful in their career areas. To think that I had a little bit to do with that is pretty humbling." Holst said.