Many often wonder…where are they now?
Well, Ameritime Sports, Resource One® and all associated companies within Ameritime’s Integrated Financial Network® are pleased to provide that information to our readers with a series of verbal portraits featuring some of the most iconic local sports names in the area. Our third installment highlights former professional baseball player Ross Koenig. Immersed in America’s Pastime for the first half of his existence taught him irreplaceable life lessons that shaped his future.
Ross Koenig, 42, played college baseball for Jefferson College and Armstrong Atlantic State University before pitching professionally in the Detroit Tigers minor league baseball system.
Growing up in the southern area of Jefferson City, Missouri, Koenig started playing baseball when he was “four years old” at the encouragement of his father.
“[Baseball] was always something that my father and I shared,” Koenig said. “We could always go and play—I don’t remember one time ever asking my dad to go to the park to play baseball where he ever said, ‘No, I can’t.’ My father, he really had a passion for baseball; that’s probably where I got it from.”
Koenig played “a little bit of everything” on the field before becoming a pitcher while attending Crystal City High School: a transition that “turned out to be a good thing.” When Koenig graduated high school, he went on to play baseball for Jefferson College, where he was a right-handed starting pitcher from 1998-2000 and earned himself an induction to the 2013 Jefferson College Athletics Hall of Fame.
The progress that Koenig made during his Freshman year resulted in an opportunity to play for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Team USA in the summer of 1999, where he would pitch against the Canadian National Team.
“Being able to play for the Junior College Team USA was a neat experience,” Koenig said. “That was pretty neat to be able to go there and represent your country on a very small scale. It’s not like the Olympics or anything, but just to be in that group and to do that was an experience.”
Koenig accepted a scholarship offer from Savannah-based Armstrong Atlantic State University in Spring 2001 after a scout saw his pitching potential.
“When I went down to Armstrong State, I believe that my name was given to [Armstrong’s] coach from a coach that I played against from another college,” Koenig said. “You don’t know who’s in the stands, you don’t know who’s watching; you might as well play your game as hard as you can and enjoy it.”
Koenig played his Junior year at Armstrong State before signing as a pitcher in the Detroit Tigers professional minor league baseball system.
“Growing up, I always wanted to play professional baseball,” Koenig said. “My greatest success in baseball as an individual would have just been signing that professional contract to play baseball because that was something that I wanted since I was four years old.”
In 2001 Koenig could be found in Oneonta, New York for “A” ball under the Tigers organization. From there, he progressed to the Lakeland, Florida-based Tigers minor league affiliate in 2002 and, in 2003, signed on to Michigan, where he played for the West Michigan Whitecaps of “A” ball.
Throughout his baseball career, Koenig maintained a solid support system in the form of his family. Koenig’s parents and his then-girlfriend and current wife Jenny would travel great distances to support him while he played.
“Whatever team I happened to be on, [my family] would always be there,” Koenig said. “[My father], I think he retired whenever I went down to Georgia so that he could free up his schedule to see more games. In fact, I remember my father once told me he couldn’t make it to a game. And he asked me, ‘Is that OK?’ And, you know, that always stood out to me because he thought that was a big deal for him to not be there.”
Koenig finished with a record of 8 wins, 6 losses, and a 4.56 ERA in his 62-game professional pitching career with the Oneonta Tigers, Lakeland Tigers, and West Michigan Whitecaps. Upon retiring from baseball, Koenig went back to school and graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a Bachelor’s degree in economics.
“I never really had any intentions of going into education, it just kind of happened,” Koenig said. “I think it goes back to, ultimately, what I grew up with. I saw the impact that my mother had—my mother was a kindergarten teacher for a number of years in our area—and my dad coached growing up. It helped that I was around two very good role models and to see the impact that they had on people.”
So, after working in finance “for a little bit,” Koenig followed in the footsteps of his parents and became an educator, as “it just kind of made sense for [him] at that time.” Koenig would go back to UMSL to get a teaching certificate in secondary education in 2005, and later, his first master’s degree in education.
“What I enjoy most about teaching is the interactions that you have and the growth that you can see from students,” Koenig said. “To see them progress from the first day of the school year, not only in whatever subject matter you’re teaching, but also just them [progressing] as a person. I really just enjoy helping other people succeed.”
Koenig began his 14-year-long educational career as a part-time coach at Crystal City High School before being hired there full-time as a social studies teacher. After teaching at Crystal City for a year, Koenig moved to the newly-built Jefferson R-7 High School, where he was enlisted not only to continue teaching social studies but also “to build the baseball program” as the Varsity Head Coach.
“I think the most important thing to understand in coaching is that we’re teachers,” Koenig said. “The teaching just kind of translates right into coaching; [it] is the coach’s job to educate and recognize that everybody is at a different stage, not only emotionally but physically and talent level and all that.”
Seven years later, Koenig moved into administration at Jefferson R-7, was an activities director at Windsor, and then was the 7-12 principal back at Crystal City. Koenig then combined his love for teaching and helping others with his initial interest in economics, finding a new home for himself at Resource One.
“My primary role is as a control option strategist,” Koenig said. “In that role, what I ultimately do is I help our clients and teach them to understand that they have the option to control more of their cash flow and wealth, and ultimately coach them to be efficient with their money. For me, it’s a great fit because I get to educate, and on top of that, I get to talk to a lot of very good, very interesting people.”
As a control option strategist, Koenig uses the passion and determination instilled within him by baseball to walk clients through their financial issues in the most efficient way possible. “[Clients] reach out to us; we work almost primarily on referrals,” Koenig said. “They reach out because they have a question or because they want to learn something, so the first thing is to make sure that we answer whatever those questions are and to let [them] know that other, additional resources are available to help them. That’s why [this job] is a good fit for me; I get to educate, I get to teach, and ultimately, I get to help other people succeed.”
Koenig also works with Ameritime on the educational side of the PSRS and Peers Retirement System. When he has time, Koenig helps out with Ameritime Sports, a sports media branch of the company that typically focuses on high school athletic events, where he can connect with his roots and “work with school districts, coaches, athletes and just help to highlight what they’re doing and the good things that are going on.”
Koenig currently lives in Festus with his wife, with whom he will be celebrating his seventeenth anniversary in October, and two daughters. Although he prides himself on being an educator, Koenig’s daughters have taught him a thing or two, as well.
“Having a number of daughters in the house, I learned that it’s not always the time to teach a life lesson,” Koenig said. “Not every moment is coachable; communicating and finding that understanding has really helped me out being a dad. [In fact], I think what I want to be most remembered for is that I was a good husband and a good father.”
With his athletic, work, and family lives tied neatly into one, Koenig holds only one regret: “Whenever I was playing in the minors, I wish I would have gotten more guys’ signatures—I was lucky enough to play against a number of guys who would probably be in the Hall of Fame!”
To learn more about Ross’ amazing journey and what he can do to help you or your loved ones in his area of expertise, contact him at ResourceOneIFN.com.
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Sports is an incredible journey, but life doesn’t end there. Reach out to those who know.