Nov. 30—Michael Sadler's career in baseball is only growing stronger.
The Mitchell native, who was a standout baseball player for the Mitchell Post 18 Legion program, has since been elevated three separate times through the Seattle Mariners organization and has been won a Professional Baseball Strength and Conditioning Coaching Society Coach of the Year award in 2021.
Sadler will be recognized for his PBSCCS award during Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, lasting from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9. Sadler was also promoted to Triple-A and will work with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers in Tacoma, Washington this upcoming season in 2022.
"It was an amazing feeling when I first got the call about the award," Sadler said. "My heart dropped a little bit and didn't know what to say. All I told my boss was 'I don't know what to say, but I'm smiling because I'm happy.' ... Coming from a small town in South Dakota and being able to work for an organization like the Mariners and going through the ranks like I have, has been special to me and special to my family and friends."
Sadler was in the Double-A Central league in 2021 with the Arkansas Travelers and there were a total of 12 teams with 12 different coaches up for this award. Each coach puts in their vote for coach of the year in that league and to Sadler's surprise, he's peers recognized him as the one deserving of this honor.
"It was definitely a surprise," Sadler said. "It's a nice award at the end of the year to get and it's very rewarding that your peers voted for you. ... I think they saw how dedicated I was to helping my team win. Whether it was out hitting fungos, throwing in batting practice or shagging fly balls, I think me doing stuff that's technically not required of me made a difference this year."
The Mount Marty University graduate first got his opportunity as a strength and conditioning coach in 2018, when he was the youngest employee and only strength and conditioning coach to work in Clinton, Iowa, with the Clinton LumberKings.
In 2019, he moved from Clinton, a Low-A baseball team to the Modesto Nuts in Modesto, California, a High-A baseball team. In only his third year of coaching, Sadler ran into a roadblock just like everyone else, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though there was no baseball season, Sadler kept in contact with players and coaches every two weeks. He made sure players stayed active, kept up with their workouts and encouraged them to find a weight room to stay in shape.
"I was very fortunate that the Mariners kept me on staff throughout that time," Sadler said. "I was lucky enough to get paid my salary because there were many teams in the MLB that did not pay their employees. I was very blessed with that and it saved me during that COVID-19 pandemic."
This winter, Sadler is hosting a strength and conditioning program through Avera Sports for middle school and high school athletes. His second 6-week session will begin Jan. 3, 2022 at the Avera Sports building on East Kay Avenue and will consist of athletes performing speed and agility drills. Each participant will receive an individual program focusing on the best methods to improve their strength, power and explosiveness.
"The program will help build their body, increase their speed and enhance their skills," Sadler said. "Throughout my years I learned so much and experience pays off so I want to provide what works and what doesn't work."
Sadler has been climbing the ladder as a sports and conditioning coach for four years now, hoping to one day get to the major league level. Now that he is only one step away and is being nationally recognized with a coach of the year award for his hard work, Sadler said he can only classify it as a blessing.
"Each year, I've been blessed to move up every single year because it doesn't always work like that," Sadler said. "Getting the recognition now to get promoted to Triple-A at the age of 26, which you don't hear very often, is a pretty good accomplishment. My hard work and dedication just happen to fall in place and hopefully in the next couple of years, I'll make an appearance with a big-league team."