Mike Kandler says goodbye to his time in the Gulf Coast uniform and dugout, will focus full time as A.D.

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 6:13 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -After 16 years guiding the Gulf Coast baseball program, coach Mike Kandler announcing he’s going to give up one of that title, and focus on the job as his school’s Athletic Director. The coach making that announcement Thursday afternoon inside the Harrison Field House with his fellow coaches and some of his family on hand.

“After many months of careful consideration I have decided to step down as the head baseball coach here at golf Coast.” coach Kandler said, while reading from some written notes. “That’s a position I’ve held for 16 years. I’m extremely proud to be one of only three people to have held that position in the last 53 years. I will continue on as the athletic director. That’s some thing that I feel like I’ve got a ton of energy for. I have a real clear vision of where I think we can take the athletic program as a whole, and I’m really excited to work on that endeavor. I think we have some extremely talented coaches here, that I am excited to work with. To try to take the Gulf Coast Athletic program to a level that maybe it’s never been before.”

Coach Kandler saying his health is fine, he just feels like it’s time to focus fully on being A.D. and let some new blood take over the baseball program. His team 24-24 this season. In that 16 year span at Gulf Coast, two conference titles, made it to six State Tournaments, won 506 games. Overall he’s coached 34 years at the high school and collegiate levels, not one losing season in those 34!

It is obviously bittersweet to be saying goodbye to the field, after all he has spent nearly 50 years in baseball, starting with his first day in little league. Coach Kandler talked about the memory of that day.

“So my dad, I remember it distinctly, said as long as you had fun I guess you can go back tomorrow. And at that time I had no idea there would be 47 years of tomorrows. Well Tuesday night when I put my head on the pillow, I realized that Wednesday, that was going to be the last tomorrow. It was time to get off the field and it was very clear to me.”

The coach went on to talk about what the game has meant to him, and in particular his time at Gulf Coast and in the Panhandle Conference, competing against the likes of Chipola’s Jeff Johnson, and Doug Martin at Northwest Florida.

“The relationships, the friends, most of my friends are involved in baseball in some way shape or form. The relationships with the players, it’s been an unbelievable ride. I’m extremely proud that I was able to hang in there for 16 years in the toughest junior college conference in the country. We didn’t always win, but we did win sometimes! I mean I was proud to go toe to toe with what I consider to be the best coaches in the country.”

Coach Kandler says he will be involved in helping to choose his successor, though that decision will be made through a search committee. He says they would like to have a new coach in place sometime in early June.

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