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East County Wednesday, May 27, 2009 11 years ago

Setting An Example

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — As a sophomore, Michael Ohlman watched former Lakewood Ranch High standouts Jonathan Griffin and Gus Schlosser play in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s all-star baseball game.

And while cheering on his teammates, the Mustangs’ catcher made a decision that would ultimately impact the way he played the game over the next two years. He decided that when the time came — he too wanted to be an all-star.

“From that year on, I knew that was what I wanted to do — it was my ultimate goal,” Ohlman said.

Ohlman’s goal became a reality last month when he was named to the 2009 Florida Athletic Coaches Association all-star baseball team. The Lakewood senior will close the book on his high school career when he represents the West Team in the 31st Annual FACA All-Star Baseball Classic May 28-30 at Firemen’s Field in Sebring.

“I’ve been playing with all of these guys since I was 8 years old, so it’s going to be fun and a really good time with a lot of laughs,” Ohlman said. “It makes you play better because you have to play up to the talent, but really it’s just a relaxing game.”

Relaxation has been the name of the game all season long for Ohlman, who completed perhaps his best season during his final year at Lakewood. Having signed with the University of Miami in November, Ohlman was relieved of the pressures usually associated with one’s senior season.

Instead, he focused on leading the Mustangs and enjoying his final year at Lakewood.

“Going into the season, I was pretty relaxed because there wasn’t as much pressure,” Ohlman said. “Last year, I felt a lot of pressure not knowing where I was going to go, but this year, I was able to just go out and have fun. It was like I was 8 years old all over again.”

During his final season at Lakewood, Ohlman posted a .550 batting average with six doubles, four triples, three homeruns and 22 RBIs.

“Mike had without a doubt his best year,” Lakewood coach Mike Mullen said. “He’s by far the finest player I’ve ever coached.

“He would come to practice and there could be as many as five scouts out here,” he added. “That is pressure, but he handled it gracefully, confidently and just did an outstanding job. He really handled the situation and the pressure very well.”

Ohlman began playing baseball when he was 5 years old has been perfecting his game ever since. Ohlman began training with Dwayne Strong at The Sandlot at 5 Tools Baseball in West Bradenton. And because of his hard work, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound catcher has become one of the most feared and respected hitters in Manatee County.

But it’s Ohlman’s work ethic — rather than his power and natural ability — that has made him a role model for his teammates.

“He’s an example of what dedication, hard work, perseverance and not being selfish is,” Mullen said. “I want them to say, ‘If I do this, this and this then there’s a chance for me to be like Mike Ohlman.

“He’s a great kid, and I’m proud of him and his family,” he added. “Good things happen to good people who work hard.”

As Ohlman’s high school career comes to a close, the community has already begun to speculate about his chances of being drafted June 9. Although, Ohlman has already made it clear he isn’t thinking about that right now.

“Just like anything, when you’ve been doing something for so long it’s (difficult),” Ohlman said of playing in his final high school game. “But there are bigger and better things to move on to, so why pass it up? I could never look back though and have any regrets.”

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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