Even though he had just realized his dream of becoming a baseball player at a Division I school, 2009 Woodmore graduate Mike Fahle said he didn't jump up and down or "go off the walls" when Bowling Green State University baseball coach Danny Schmitz informed him that he had made the team as a walk-on catcher.
"When I walked into his office, I had confidence," said Fahle, 19. "I almost felt like I played well enough and I expected to make it. I reached one goal. Now, I just have to keep working hard and hope for success in the future."
The 6-0, 200-pound Fahle said he was recruited by Bluffton, Heidelberg, Tiffin, and Ohio Northern, but he stuck to his guns about wanting to play at the Division I level.
"I wanted to go for the big one, I guess," he said.
Fahle was a three-year starter behind the plate at Woodmore. He was named second-team All-Suburban Lakes League as a junior and honorable mention as a senior.
"This past summer I had a pretty strong year with Fremont Legion Post 121," Fahle said. "After a down senior year, that really gave me a confidence boost. That really helped me out."
Fahle was also the starting quarterback at Woodmore as a senior. He was a starting wide receiver as a sophomore and junior, and he also started at linebacker for three seasons.
"One of my main goals in my life was to become a Division I athlete in baseball," Fahle said. "Baseball is my favorite sport, and I decided where I wanted to go to school toward the end of my junior year I wanted to go to Bowling Green. If I had to walk on or didn't have to walk on, I was going to try out for the baseball team.
"Bowling Green's baseball team has been quite successful in past years. Some of my family members have gone to Bowling Green and I wanted to keep the legacy going. Coach Schmitz is a very experienced coach, the type of coach who knows how to win. He's down to earth and very responsible."
Schmitz guided the Falcons to a 28-22 overall record in 2009. BGSU also won the Mid-American Conference regular-season title (18-8) for the second straight year.
Schmitz said the number of walk-ons his program keeps varies from year to year.
"Last year we ended up keeping three walk-ons, and this year Michael is the only walk-on we're keeping," he said. "We had three working out with us during the fall and Michael is the only one who stuck with us. It goes by athletic ability, but also the needs of the program."
The Falcons hold a five-week program in the fall, and Schmitz said Fahle attended tryouts on Labor Day.
"We liked what we saw, so we decided to keep him all fall and compete against guys on our team," the coach said. "At the end of fall we have meetings and talk to all the players and let them know their status on the team. That's when we informed Michael we wanted to keep him.
"We like to carry four catchers and he'll be starting out as a fourth catcher on the team. That's very important to our team. We carry 14-15 pitchers, so it's important to have that fourth catcher. We liked the progress Mike made during the fall program. He's a hard worker, very dedicated. He takes to coaching, which is good. He did a nice job for us."
Fahle, who is majoring in exercise science, admitted he impressed himself with his performance at BG's fall workouts.
"I did a lot better than I expected," Fahle said. "These kids are all-state and a couple of them were drafted. I wasn't that well-known. I never got all-state and never got first-team all-league. I was competitive and a hard worker and I thought I had the skill to perform with the other players.
"I was pretty solid behind the plate and I was solid with the bat, too. The only real difference (at the plate) is timing. You just have to time them up better. Their off-speed stuff is a lot better, you just have to adjust to it. I thought I adjusted to it quite quickly."
The Falcons played a number of intrasquad games, and Schmitz said Fahle came up with some big hits.
"He was facing some of our better pitchers," Schmitz said. "That's a nice thing to see. He still has to work on the defensive end - receiving, blocking and throwing. We like our catchers to (throw) between 1.95 (seconds) to 2-flat from from the catcher's glove to second base. That's one thing that Michael does need to improve on."
The Falcons' season begins the weekend of Feb. 19 in Louisville, Ky. Schmitz said 27 of BG's 31-32 roster players generally travel with the team.
"Michael could make that trip (to Louisville)," Schmitz said. "We'll see how he progresses."