From being in the spotlight to working behind the scenes, UCF baseball assistant coach Ryan Klosterman took a trip down memory lane this month as his star-player days were honored.
During halftime at a football game on Oct. 2, with loved ones and fans in attendance, the South Lake High School graduate had his No. 3 baseball jersey retired in the Lake County school.
“It’s an honor. I’m very humbled at the opportunity that they did that for me,” said Klosterman, a 2000 alumnus of the school. “It was a great experience that my parents were able to come out to see and witness, and my wife as well.”
Klosterman’s jersey is the second to be retired in the school, following NFL free-agent running back Jeff Demps.
“To have your jersey retired is quite an honor. It doesn’t just happen for anybody, and it’s a great representation to the school,” South Lake’s co-athletic director Bobby Rego said.
Rego describes the recognition as a way of having a connection with the athletes and being able to honor their contribution.
The standout infielder indeed contributed to the Eagles by earning MVP honors as a junior and senior, while also being named first team All-County and 5A honorable mention All-State as a senior.
Klosterman played infield for the Clemson Tigers from 2001-02 and the Vanderbilt Commodores from 2003-04.
He helped lead the Commodores to the NCAA Super Regional in Austin, falling to eventual runner-up Texas 10-2. Before graduating in 2004, he averaged .346 at the plate with 91 hits, 72 runs and eight triples.
His eight triples remains a single-season record at Vanderbilt.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human and organizational development, Klosterman was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth round, No. 147 overall, of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft.
Through Klosterman’s years filled with baseball achievements, honors and success, it took one phone call to change his career path — in the best way he could have expected.
While playing with the Florida Marlins Triple-A affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs, Klosterman received a phone call from UCF baseball head coach Terry Rooney, saying there was an open position on the coaching staff.
“When [Rooney] called, I took the first flight possible to get down here. … A couple days later, he called me up, offered me the spot and I had to call the Marlins the same day and tell them I was retiring,” Klosterman said.
Without hesitation and a no-regret attitude, the standout was eager to return to his Central Florida roots.
“It wasn’t a hard decision. … I always knew I wanted to be a baseball coach, I’ve always had a passion for it, a passion for the energy,” he said. “Playing wise, there were no regrets. I was at the end of my career and I was ready to move on.”
After eight years of playing in the minor leagues, Klosterman was ready to make a major dream his reality.
Swinging right into coaching, Klosterman has been bringing forth his playing days and career experiences to his players while being the type of mentor he remembers having.
“The best experience being a college coach is you get to mold these kids into young men, not so much baseball wise, not so much technically … but putting our guys out there in the community and putting them in a position to where when they do graduate, they’re going to be successful after baseball,” he said.
After being in charge of the Knights’ infielders and team defense, Klosterman takes the role of recruiting coordinator and hitting coach.
“I can look in the mirror and say I laid it all out there and at the end of the day, I just wasn’t that player who was going to get that opportunity to play in the major leagues,” he said.
“For me, hey, maybe that is the reason why I’m here today and for that, I’m thankful and grateful.”
Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.