While his friends have spent their last few summers on the lake, North Forsyth senior pitcher Tyler Koch has had to pass off on the fun.
Instead, summer was a time of intense labor for Koch. He’d wake up at 6 a.m., throw on workout clothes and pack more than one bag. He’d arrive at the school, knock out a basketball practice with the Raiders, and then get done in time to take a power nap and prepare for a baseball game at 2 p.m.
Koch has balanced being a varsity basketball player with commitments to the Raiders baseball team, as well as Team Elite—a club team that has a reputation of getting young baseball prospects into college.
Koch never thought once about dropping one of the obligations—he loves both sports too much, he says.
“I don’t regret it. It’s fun playing both, and being a college athlete has always been my goal, so it’s just about sticking to hard work,” Koch said. “There’s times when my friends will be out doing something and I’ll be like, man, I wish I could go, but it’s worth it.
“My girlfriend doesn’t like it because it makes me so busy,” he laughed.
Just a few months ago, Koch was in the thick of basketball season and baseball preparation. He’d get out of school, head to the field to get in a bullpen session, and then head back to the gym to prepare for a varsity basketball game.
He also signed to pitch at Georgia State, where he’ll begin his collegiate career this fall.
Now, finally, he’s able to slow down a bit and take in his senior season with the Raiders. His stress is down, his emotions running a little bit higher than usual.
“Basketball was tough to end,” Koch said. “Baseball, I’ve been playing this sport since I can remember. I’ve been playing with my teammates for six years, probably. It’s going to be tough separating, so I want just to have one last hoorah with all of my friends.”
So far this year North is 9-4, 5-2 in Region 6-AAAAAA and in a thick race for the playoffs in Koch’s final season. He still has a bad taste in his mouth after the Raiders fell to Walton in the first round of the playoffs last year, so right now his focus is solely on finishing his high school baseball career on a higher note.
He’ll talk up the team like a local analyst.
“I think nine of our seniors pitch? We’re feeling pretty good,” Koch said. “Last year obviously with Dakota (Chalmers) it was pretty tough to live up to him and what he was doing, but we’re doing our best this year and we’ve got a good shot at winning our region. Our team ERA is under 2, so that’s good.
“I just think we have really hard working players. I hope that I lead by example most of the time,” Koch said.
The truth is, Koch also doesn’t want the season to end because he’s anxious about taking the next step. It’s a good type of anxious.
“Going to Georgia State is going to be a really big step,” Koch said. “When I get there in the fall, they usually play fall ball and intersquads, so I’m going to have to go straight to work and maybe get some playing time freshman year. We’ll take it from there.
“It’s also going to be a really big change. It’ll be different than Forsyth County. I won’t be driving home and seeing cows on the side of the road,” Koch said.