The Captains Who Bind the Team


Contributed by Winona State Athletics

Cooper Kapanke, fourth-year infielder for the Warriors.

Kailey Doeseckle, Sports Editor

Every team needs a leader who can fill their fellow players with enough pride and encouragement to do well both inside and outside of a game. Luckily, the Winona State baseball team has five excellent captains who have been able to do just that and more in their time on the field.   

Three of the aforementioned Warriors are Cooper Kapanke, Josh Gullickson and Kyle Gendron, who, in just a few years, have left a significant impact on their team.  

Kapanke is a fourth-year student from Eau Claire, Wis. who began playing baseball at a very young age. With his dad, he found immense enjoyment within the sport and gained some of his closest friends as a result.  

“I love the whole idea of success and failure,” Kapanke said regarding his choice to keep with the sport. “I keep coming back to it, and it has brought me to where I am.”  

Gendron and Gullickson shared very similar experiences to Kapanke, having started out tossing a ball back and forth with their fathers before expanding their hobby into a more permanent passion. 

Gendron, a fifth-year student from Silver Lake, Wis., and his fellow captains agree that becoming a Warrior was the best decision to continue their academic and athletic career.  

Kyle Gedron, fifth year pitcher for the Warriors (Contributed by: Winona State Athletics)

Afterall, Winona State was the standout school for the three future players.  

“The players being open to talk and go out of their way to meet you just gave that at home feeling,” Gendron said. “I got the feeling that I was wanted here.”  

The welcoming environment had roped them in, and the family-like bond of the team swept in for the final kill, assuring that the Warriors would have three new members by the end of recruitment.   

Since that time, their roles on the team have only become more significant.  

As captains, each of their skills complement the other, and they can bounce off one another to push the team to where they need to be. Acting as pillars towards success, coming together with a common goal is important for them, but they don’t rely solely on themselves.  

“Even though there’s only five of us, we have 40 plus guys on the team,” Gullickson, a third-year student from Plymouth, Minn. said. “I think everybody else kind of finds their own niche too as a leader.”  

Each individual Warrior plays a role in the team’s success, but the captains’ efforts do not go unnoticed.  

Though, for as much as they have taught their team, they also find themselves acquiring new knowledge every day.  

One of the most important concepts they have learned is the value of a relationship.   

Being among the same people for so long assures closeness, but for a team to truly function as a whole, they must find support in all of their teammates.  

And the baseball team certainly has no issue with that.  

Josh Gullickson, fourth-year infielder for the Warriors. (Contributed by: Winona State Athletics)

“You could go up to anyone on the team, no matter their grade and hang out with them,” Gendron said. “The closeness of this team definitely helps us overcome things and get through things other team might not be able to.”  

While they have not had an excellent start to their year, the work that each member of the team puts in brings hope for a quick turnaround.  

Each captain shares the common goal of winning a conference championship, which is well within their reach. Though, even without a win like that under their belt they have still achieved far more than a simple game is worth; friendships and memories that will last them a lifetime.