Ben Lemke: Trying for two
Listen to Rosemount baseball coach Trevor Monroe talk about Ben Lemke and you will hear appreciation for the one-time Irish player who is now a freshman at Concordia University-St. Paul.
But, it wasn't always that way.
"Early on, Ben was not a coachable kid," Monroe said. "He had a lot of growing up to do. But he has done a full-faced turnaround. The rewards are showing now. He has created this and it all goes to how hard he has worked."
Lemke enjoyed a stellar Irish career, lettering five times as a two-sport athlete. He was all-conference honorable mention in baseball.
However, when it came to looking at colleges, Lemke signed to play football at Concordia.
And since then, he's made another turnaround -- deciding to play basebball in college as well.
"I came to school to just play football," Lemke said. "I missed baseball a lot though. I'm glad I decided to play."
Lemke has come a long ways from those first impressions on Monroe.
Not many would expect him to be where he is this spring, as a collegiate two-sport athlete for the Bears.
"It was always just a battle where I tried not to let people get to me," Lemke said. "I knew all along I had the ability. I didn't always have the confidence to do the best I can."
After some coersion by those close to him, Lemke tried out for the Concordia baseball team this spring, after redshirting for the football team in the fall.
He was recently named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference pitcher of the week after throwing 4 1/3 innings of no-hit ball in relief to earn his first career college win.
After his first five appearances on the mound, Lemke was 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA. He's also begun to see time as a first baseman, second baseman and designated hitter.
"We knew he was a great athlete," Concordia baseball coach Mark McKenzie said. "What we didn't know until he came out was his moxie, his make-up. He doesn't seem to get nervous or scared. Some freshmen get that deer-in-the-headlight look. Ben doesn't seem to get that."
The hard work -- so evident to Monroe -- has Lemke poised to build on his early collegiate success. The only question is where it might lead.
Two-sport college athletes are a rare bunch.
"It's been going really well so far," Lemke said. "We just have to see how things go. I am leaving everything open; leave the doors open and see where it takes me."