WATERTOWN — The Watertown Rapids introduced their new coaching staff Wednesday, one with a distinct local flavor.

The team announced that Beaver River baseball coach Mike Kogut is the new head coach for the Rapids for this year’s Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Kogut said after a press conference at Watertown Municipal Arena. “As soon as they reached out to me, I was definitely interested and excited. I just wanted to make sure that I built the right staff to support me and the players going in because it’s definitely a staff type of job, it’s not a small-time job.”

Kogut will be joined by former longtime Lowville coach Dan Myers, as well as current Watertown coach Riley Moonan, who both will serve as assistant coaches for the Rapids.

“Absolutely, it’s a big deal,” Kogut said. “We have some talent here and we want that talent to come back here and play in front of their local fans and as they go out and build their college careers and beyond. It’s nice for them to come share the summer months with us and get to stay close to home with their families and again showcase themselves in the Perfect Game league.”

Kogut guided Beaver River to a Section 3 Class C championship last year in his first season as varsity baseball coach at the school.

“They kind of reached out and when they said what they were looking for, I told them I’d be interested in hearing what they had to say or offer,” Kogut said of the Rapids. “And as the conversations got deeper, it seemed like a good fit and I was excited to take on a new challenge throughout the summer.”

Kogut served as an assistant coach at Lowville under Myers for two seasons before moving on to Beaver River. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Beavers and took over as head coach last year.

“I think having that local foundation is great,” Myers said. “Because first, it’s going to draw fans and also it’s a coaching staff that has a real good resume as far as college baseball, what we’ve done and been successful there and in coaching beyond that.”

Myers coached Lowville’s varsity team for 20 years before retiring after last season.

“I’ve always wanted to coach at the next level,” Myers said. “So this is a great opportunity to develop some kids even further and really see some quality talent, so I’m excited.”

Moonan, a Cicero-North Syracuse graduate who like Kogut is from Liverpool, went on to play baseball at Division II Fairleigh Dickinson as an outfielder.

Now a teacher at Watertown, Moonan coached the Cyclones varsity team for the first time last spring.

“Coach Kogut approached me with this opportunity and I thought on it a little bit,” Moonan said. “And I was like ‘it would be really cool to get back into college baseball.’ I definitely love baseball, but it’s a different atmosphere working with college kids. So I wanted to get involved and help coach out in any way needed, and I’m definitely really excited for the opportunity.”

The Rapids also announced this year’s team will include several local players, including the return of Watertown’s Ryan Peters and Lowville’s Brett Myers, who both played for the team last season.

“Both Brett and Ryan I know were pillars to their team last year and so they’re returning back a year stronger and a year older and more experienced,” Kogut said. “We’re hoping that they can be good pieces to start and along with our local talent, we’re also bringing in talent from all over and we’re starting to build a strong roster.”

Kogut said the Rapids have added about 18 players and the team hopes to sign about a dozen more.

“So we still have a little bit of work to do, but we have our core guys that we’re going to start with and from there we’re going to just add some pieces along the way,” he said. “I know one piece to the puzzle that seemed to be missing a little bit last year was pitching, so we’re really working on building pitching depth for the team this year.”

“I love it, I think we couldn’t have it any better here,” said Peters, a Watertown graduate, as well as a former Herkimer County Community College pitcher who is now attending SUNY Brockport. “We’ve got local players playing this year and we’ve got local coaches coaching, and I’m excited for what this season is going to bring.”

Last season, Ben Moxley, a Clarkson University assistant coach, guided the Rapids as head coach to a 13-29 record and a fourth-place finish in the PGCBL’s Central Division.

“The organization is still kind of young, they had their first season and then they had the COVID year that they missed,” Kogut said. “They got back on their feet last year and I know they struggled a little bit, but I think there was a good foundation laid there.”

Myers believes his high school background will help develop the college players competing for the Rapids.

“A lot of times having some background in high school coaching gives you a better foundation to teach,” Dan Myers said. “Where if you’d only coached at the collegiate level, those guys sometimes it’s kind of a cookie cutter system where they look for the best talent. Well, we can still kind of continue to nurture and teach. Even our college kids, they want to continue to be instructed, they want structure and they want to continue to develop.

“So I think it’s an opportunity for us to do that and I think creating that baseball culture is going to be important.”

The PGCBL’s season gets under way in late spring and the Rapids have yet to release their season schedule.

“We’re just looking to build on that foundation and I think it was a good idea for the organization to go local for their coaches and try to build the team through the community more,” added Kogut, who attended Bishop Ludden and went on to play collegiate baseball at Medaille College in Buffalo as a pitcher. “And I know my roster is going to reflect that, too, we should have a handful of players from the northern New York area on our roster.”

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