FRYEBURG — Sometimes one applicant for a vacant high school coaching position is all you need.

Fryeburg Academy Athletic Director Sue Thurston believes that’s the case with her school’s new varsity baseball coach, Chris Kroski.

Kroski, 33, brings a combination of eight years of minor league playing experience from 2002-09 with the discipline and command of a police officer.

“Chris is high energy and it will be fun to see him work with the kids this season,” Thurston said.

Kroski, a former catcher in the Seattle and Cincinnati farm systems, moved to the area when he joined the Conway, New Hampshire, police department in May 2012.

Since then he’s worked as a travel team coach and personal instructor while looking for a more defined return to the diamond. Kroski said he now regrets retiring as a player when he was 28 after a major shoulder injury in 2009.


“I definitely should have stayed in it and that’s why I’m here, because I regret (retiring) so much,” Kroski said. “I’ve got to fill the void.”

Kroski’s baseball credentials are strong but he’s new to coaching.

He also had a lack of help at the start of the season.

Varsity assistant Stew Frost was hired after the first week of throwing-only practice. The JV coach was even harder to find, and Thurston ended up splitting the position. Blair Lynch handles the duties Wednesday through Saturday, and Charlie Tryder, a dean at Fryeburg Academy, has the job on Monday and Tuesday.

That meant Kroski was scrambling at the start of the season to instruct more than two dozen players who represented an extreme range of aptitude and experience.

“I wouldn’t think that I’m the only one in that situation,” Kroski said. “Because if you have a varsity guy leave, I’d assume that 90 percent of the time it’s the JV guy who goes for the varsity job and now you’re stuck back at, hey, who’s going to be the JV guy? Unfortunately it’s a domino effect.”


On the third day of full-team practice, Kroski split his squads. First, the varsity went through a fielding drill while the junior varsity was in the gym hitting with Frost. Then the groups switched.

Several JV players made novice fielding mistakes. Two or three players looked as if they were just learning how to throw a baseball. Kroski remained upbeat, offering firm, consistent and clear instructions that emphasized fundamentals.

Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2002 in the 19th round out of St. Petersburg (Florida) Junior College, Kroski was in the Cincinnati Reds’ system from 2004-09. He played in 300 minor league games and hit .244 in 937 at-bats. A series of injuries derailed his career, particularly a knee injury in 2008, shortly after he was promoted to Triple-A.

“His knowledge of baseball has definitely taught a lot to the younger kids and even the older kids, really,” senior pitcher/shortstop Hunter Day said. “Even having bunt defenses in. We didn’t have any last year, so that’s obviously going to help.”

Helping players stick with the game as long as possible is important to Kroski.

“My goal is (to) get at least one kid out of the varsity team to continue on to play in college,” Kroski said. “The best way is to let them know the dream is still alive. I’m one of them. I wasn’t blessed with it.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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