08/19/2015 10:02 PM
With his strong defense and power hitting, Nate Tenbrink has quickly become a team leader on the T-Bones (Photo by: John Ellis).
By: ALLISON McBRIEN
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - As a father, teammate and coach, Nate Tenbrink has approached every part of his life with one thing in mind: “I like to have fun. I just go out there and give it all my best.” A mentality that has benefited him in his career, as well as coaching.
Growing up in the Kansas City area, Tenbrink started sports at a young age.
“I was always outside playing hockey, basketball or hitting baseballs,” he said.
After graduating from Olathe Northwest in 2004, Tenbrink played baseball for the Wildcats at Kansas State University, and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft.
A few seasons later an opportunity arose.
“A guy I played with at K-State, Bryan Peterson, started up his own baseball facility when he got out of college and asked if I wanted to go in on it with him.” Tenbrink said.
He’s been a part of the Kansas City Fieldhouse now, for four years as a coach and mentor for children.
Tenbrink trains young athletes from ages 10 to 18 in boot camp classes and hitting lessons.
He said, “I’ll have an hour lesson in the morning, a fitness class at noon and I’ll come to the ballpark after.”
During Tenbrink’s off-season, he puts a program together and continues to train the dedicated young athletes in speed and agility, along with hitting fundamentals.
For the first time, Tenbrink watched as the high school athletes he trained moved on to receive college scholarships this year.
He said, “To see their hard work actually payoff is quite rewarding as a coach.”
Tenbrink is a mentor to the hundreds of athletes he trains, but there are two influential men who have made an impact on the person and player he is today. Jay Novacek, Tenbrink’s former high school coach, has continued to provide wisdom and guidance to Tenbrink, throughout his career.
“There were times things were tough in high school, college and even professional ball when I didn’t want to do it anymore,” Tenbrink said. “Baseball is a sport where there’s a lot of second guessing yourself and he was probably one of the reasons I kept playing the game.”
As his coach, Tenbrink’s father provided him with important wisdom that has influenced his playing today. “My dad ingrained the hard work aspect when I was younger, everything I do, I do it 100 percent,” he said.
With this as Tenbrink’s first season with the Kansas City T-Bones, his hard-working mentality has paid off. He currently has a .307 average with 88 hits this season, third overall on the team, 10 hits under Jake Blackwood’s 98 hits.
However, this isn’t the first time Blackwood and Tenbrink have been teammates.
“We played together for two or three years when we were 16,” Tenbrink said, “and I was a twig, but he looks exactly the same as he did in high school.”
When Tenbrink signed with the T-Bones earlier this year, he reached out to Blackwood.
“Baseball guys, it doesn’t matter, we’re all best friends out here on the field,” he said. In the off-season, Blackwood and Tenbrink would hit every week at the Kansas City Fieldhouse and catch up on the past few years.
Tenbrink’s presence in the game has quickly made him a veteran with the Kansas City T-Bones.
“I love it here, it’s a beautiful park, it’s fun and the competition is good,” he said.
Tenbrink’s goal was to play independent ball with the T-Bones, while also be there to see his 4-month old son here in Kansas City. He said, “I love being able to see my son at home and growing up, it’s been great.”
Over the past few years, Nate Tenbrink has grown to become a mentor to hundreds of children, a teammate and a father. It’s hard to find people who genuinely love their job. However, with Tenbrink there’s no question he loves the game he’s played all his life. “The way I look at it is you can be sitting at a desk or you can be out here enjoying this beautiful weather, this great game, and just being around these guys having a good time.”