Fenwick High School Athletic Director Scott Thies announced last week that Kyle Kmiecik has been named the school’s varsity baseball coach, replacing Dave Hogan who abruptly disappeared from the Friars’ dugout in May, without explanation, during the IHSA state playoffs.
Kmiecik served as the interim head coach of the team throughout the state playoffs, during which the Friars advanced to the IHSA Class 3A supersectional round.
“We feel strongly that his experience developing student-athletes while representing the school he loves will make him a great fit to lead our program,” Thies said in a July 7 press release announcing the change.
Kmiecik, a River Forest native, graduated from St. Vincent Ferrer Elementary School and attended Fenwick High School, where he played under Hogan and earned all-conference and all-state honors during his junior and senior seasons. He graduated in 2000.
He competed collegiately at Millikin University from 2000 to 2003 and at Southern Wesleyan University in 2004-05 before embarking on a five-year career in the minor leagues, where he played for the Sioux Falls Canaries, the Kalamazoo Kings and the Sussex Skyhawks.
He served as an assistant coach for Dominican University’s baseball team for the 2011 season. After receiving a master’s degree from National-Louis University in 2012, he was hired by Fenwick later that year as a learning resource coordinator, a job he still holds.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to represent Fenwick and our baseball program, and to continue working with our well-respected and hard-working coaches,” Kmiecik said in the school’s press release. “Our program has a long-standing tradition of excellence built by our Friar baseball alums and coaches, who worked tirelessly and made many sacrifices for their respective teams, teammates, and school.”
It is unclear what prompted Hogan’s sudden removal from the dugout. In May in response to an inquiry by Wednesday Journal, a school spokesman stated he was “not able to provide additional information at this time.”
In mid-June, the spokesman followed up with an email stating that Hogan would retire as a P.E. teacher and coach effective June 30.
“Dave has worked at Fenwick for 43 years and we wish him well in his retirement,” the spokesman said in the email.
The school’s July 7 announcement naming Kmiecik as head coach was Fenwick’s first public acknowledgement of Hogan’s departure, despite his accomplished coaching career and decades’ long tenure as a teacher.
During a career that began at the school in 1979, Hogan guided Fenwick’s varsity baseball team to an 862-476-4 record – a win total that ranks Hogan fifth all-time among high school baseball coaches in Illinois, just behind Oak Park and River Forest High School legend Jack Kaiser, who retired with 892 wins in 2000.