Where Are They Now? Rob Wachholz
In a sense, Rob Wachholz was the “First Woodchuck” because he was in the starting line up on opening night during the inaugural season of 1994. Rob is also unique because he is one of a handful local boys that played for the Woodchucks and he also coached the Woodchucks.
Coming out of Wausau West High School, Rob wanted to play baseball at University of Wisconsin, but they dropped baseball right before his enrollment in college. Because baseball was very important to Rob, he enrolled at Wartburg in Waverly, Iowa a D3 perennial baseball powerhouse. At Wartburg, Rob was a star on the baseball field earning All-Conference honors in 1993 and 1994 as an outfielder and in 1995 as a first baseman. Rob was recruited to play with the Woodchucks after his junior season in the summer of 1994.
One of Rob fondest memory from the first season was playing in front of a packed house. “In front of a packed Athletic Park, I hit a grand slam to give us the win.” Rob also remembers that the Woodchuck players were hardly pampered. Today’s Woodchucks travel in luxury buses, but in 1994 the players traveled in Econoline Vans driven by coaches and players. Today’s Woodchucks stay in luxury hotels, but during the first Northwoods League season the players stayed in empty dorm rooms and were grateful when they had pillows, sheets and blankets. Even the bats they used were cheap composite models in comparison to the higher quality Rawlings wood bats used today.
Rob returned to the Woodchucks in 2000 as an assistant coach under Rob Smith. He stuck around during the 2001 season and enjoyed the Woodchucks first Northwoods League Championship. “The 2001 team was a special team” said Rob. “The team had great chemistry, character and camaraderie.” In the championship series against St. Cloud, the team lost the second game on a controversial call in the outfield.” It didn’t matter remembers Rob, “Because you just knew they were not going to lose the third game.”
Rob continued coaching locally at Wausau West for ten years until the demands of family and business got in the way. At Wausau West he helped build a program that made two State Tournament trips and produced future Woodchucks Adam Kramer, John Roberts and Seth McMullen.
Today, Rob is a Branch Manager with Wisconsin401k.com, with supervisory responsibilities for brokers throughout the Midwest. Along with his wife, Kristina, he brings his two young children (Chelsea and Brady) to Woodchucks games often. Although they seem to spend more time in the playground than watching the game.
In looking back, Rob believes “That baseball taught me how to be a leader and how to deal with failure. In baseball, you know you are going to fail so you need to Learn how to respond when things don’t go well.”