By Tom Haley
The College of St. Joseph campus is all dressed up in its winter wedding gown white, making thoughts of a sun-kissed baseball diamond difficult — unless you are Cam Curler. His baseball dreams burn 365 days a year.
As the school’s assistant baseball coach, and head coach of the Glens Falls Dragons in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, the 26-year-old Curler has aspirations of climbing the game’s ladder.
Curler also has administrative duties outside of baseball at CSJ, but he wants to be in a place someday where the job is all about the game.
“I’d like to have a job where all I do is coach baseball,” Curler said. “I would like a job where I just go to the baseball office and go to the ballpark, and where you focus on your team all the time. You can’t get much better than that.”
CSJ head baseball coach Bob Godlewski, who is heading into his fourth year with Curler at his side, believes he will get there.
“I think he is a great baseball guy and that he will be at a high level in his career,” Godlewski said. “He is getting a lot out of summer baseball (with the Dragons) and when the right time comes, he will be a Division I coach. There is no doubt in my mind.”
Curler has been associated with winning baseball. He played on the first Vergennes Union High School state championship baseball team in 2007. He played for two teams that won Babe Ruth League state baseball championships, was a member of the Addison County team that won an American Legion state crown and was the starting shortstop on Castleton University teams that won the North Atlantic Conference championship in 2010 and 2012.
Then, in the summer of 2017, the wins dried up. His first year at the helm of the Dragons produced a 17-33 record.
Curler inherited the roster, getting the job too late to recruit. This summer he is anxious to see what he can do with his own players and a year of managerial experience on his resume.
The Dragons open June 1 and he has been sending emails and making phone calls assembling the roster. He has players on the roster from NCAA Division I schools like Albany, Siena, Xavier, Monmouth, Fairfield and Cornell. Division II schools Southern New Hampshire University, St. Anselm, Bellarmine in Kentucky, College of St. Rose and Goldy Beacon of Delaware are represented and there is a pitcher from Division III Johnson & Wales.
Godlewski has told Curler that recruiting will be tough as he ascends to higher levels where the competition is brutal.
“If I have failed him in some way, it’s not pushing him to spend more time with me (in recruiting),” Godlewski said.
Curler learned plenty in his first stint with Glens Falls and he feels much more comfortable about the coming year.
“I think I was overly concerned about it being a high level of baseball,” Curler said. “I learned that it is still baseball and that handling relationships is the same as at any other level.”
He also found that when playing in a league where the calendar is crowded with games, there are never too many pitchers.
“I needed more pitchers who could throw strikes. I had Division I pitchers, but I felt we had pitchers at St. Joe’s who could have helped me more,” Curler said. “I am looking for pitchers who can throw strikes and give our defense a chance.”
He recalled his own experience of being recruited out of Vergennes.
He had other choices, but Castleton coach Ted Shipley told him he would have the opportunity to play at Castleton. He was the starting shortstop from his freshman year with the Spartans.
It was there that he struck up a relationship with Godlewski, Shipley’s pitching coach at the time. Godlewski recommended Curler to Glens Falls Dragons Owner and General Manager Ben Bernard.
“Bob said, ‘I think Cam is ready,’” Bernard said. “It has turned out to be a great experience.”
Bernard saw the adjustment Curler had to make with the Dragons.
“The game is faster. He was in the dugout pretty much alone. I could tell at the beginning he was nervous. We had a rough stretch where we couldn’t win on the road, but he got through it. He held it together with the guys. He didn’t crack,” Bernard said. “And now because of this, he is going to be a better coach for St. Joe’s.”
With an eye on his own program someday, Curler is appreciating all that is going on around him at CSJ, where he has been a part of two teams that have won United States Collegiate Athletic Association championships.
“I’m thankful for all the experience I am getting here,” he said.
Follow Tom on Twitter @RHSportsGuy