He had just signed up to play baseball at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois, but Kolten Koch was in pain. Since his senior year as a catcher at Monona Grove High School in 2018, he had been experiencing nerve damage in his elbow, making it difficult to throw.
“I would do a couple of throws and I couldn’t lift my arm above my shoulder,” said Koch, who will be entering his junior year at Rock Valley. “I got a lot of tingling and numbness in my fingers. That was the first time I have dealt with a big injury.”
Koch underwent surgery and spent a year rehabilitating his injury. He made frequent visit to his physical therapist and underwent a throwing program to regain the strength in his right arm.
Today, Koch is pain-free and hopefully, his days of recovery are completely behind him. He also become an important member of the Rock Valley College baseball team under head coach Chad Herren.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 season in mid-March, Koch hit .190 but had an on-base percentage of .393 with two doubles and three RBIs. Since the early end of the season, Koch has been working out daily and trying to stay in shape. A lot of his motivation comes from seeing the talent out on the field and how he must improve offensively and defensively.
“Everyone who plays in college is extremely good. I’ve seen so much improvement by practicing and working out,” Koch said. “I’ve worked in the batting cages, and that’s something that helped me understand my swing and develop my swing a lot better. I am twice the player I was in high school.”
Koch gives a lot of credit to Monona Grove head baseball coach Kevin Connor for helping him develop into a college athlete.
“He put a lot of trust in me and improved me on my work ethic,” he said. “He put so much time into the program and developed me into that next caliber of player.”
One of Koch’s biggest thrills was playing with Monona Grove at Miller Park in Milwaukee. The Silver Eagles earned the opportunity after reaching a goal on tickets they sold to Brewers games.
MG lost the game to Milton, but Koch said it was one of his favorite memories of high school along with being called up to the varsity team in his freshman year.
Koch is currently taking his general course at Rock Valley College and will then transfer to another school to become a physical therapist.
Where he will transfer is still up in the air, but working with a physical therapist while recovering from his elbow injury had an influence on his career path.
He admits that attending college in Rockford was scary at first, because he knew very little about the city. But he is enjoying the surroundings and the campus.
“It is an amazing place. Everyone knows everyone else, and we get to spend time together like a family,” Koch said. “The sports teams watch each other play and support them. Professors are amazing. They are all about their students and helping them.”