By Rich Palzewicz
Ashwaubenon senior athlete Boone Kirst had his pick to play college football or college baseball.
With several Division II football offers, ultimately, Kirst went the baseball route and chose Central Michigan University (CMU) in Mount Pleasant.
He excelled both on the gridiron as a three-year starter at quarterback and as a catcher behind the plate for the Jaguars.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but baseball is where my heart is,” Kirst said. “I think most people figured I’d go the football route because I started on the varsity since my sophomore year, but I never ruled out baseball.”
Kirst received preferred walk-on status at CMU, so he’ll have to earn an athletic scholarship through his play on the field.
“(CMU head coach Jordan Bischel) is giving me an opportunity to play at the next level — nothing more for now,” said Kirst, who wants to be a teacher. “With my grades, grade-point average and ACT score, I earned a nice academic scholarship. I’m hoping if I play well and advance, it might also lead to an athletic scholarship.”
In the recently completed football season, Kirst was 166 of 266 passing for 1,930 yards with 19 touchdowns for the Jaguars, who finished 3-6 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
After his junior season in baseball, Kirst was named the Fox River Classic Conference player of the year.
“I wasn’t sure I would get that honor, but my dad used to be the coach at Ashwaubenon, and I watched a lot of good players come through,” Kirst said. “It was a surprise I got it — I was happy.”
CMU has been on Kirst’s radar for quite some time.
“I’ve always liked how they are a smaller school but they find a way to compete in their conference and do well in regionals,” he said. “My dad used to play at St. Norbert, and then he came back and coached coach Bischel.”
Bischel, a 1999 Notre Dame Academy graduate, accepted the Chippewas’ head coaching job in June 2018.
The former manager of the Green Bay Bullfrogs — now the Green Bay Rockers — from 2009-12 in the Northwoods League, Bischel helped lead CMU to a 143-57 record in his four seasons in Mount Pleasant.
The Chippewas play in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and have had only five coaches in the last seven decades.
To hone his baseball skills, Boone said he decided not to go out for basketball during his senior season.
Ashwaubenon made the WIAA Division 2 state tournament last season but lost to Pewaukee in the state semifinals.
“I’ve always played three sports, so I’ve never had the time to concentrate on one sport,” he said. “Because I’m not playing basketball, I’ll lift weights and get more polished as a baseball player.”
Boone said it was another tough decision.
“It was a great run last season, and (Ashwaubenon head coach) Mark Tomashek has done so much for me,” he said. “It was tough to tell the guys on the team my plans, but I felt it was best for me to get ready for college baseball.”