Busy Summer for Brunner

Post 1 manager balancing time at school, ball field

Photo by Cody Tomer Wheeling manager Jon-Michael Brunner has been pulling double duty this summer with coaching Legion baseball and finishing up his physician assistant program.

WHEELING — When summer rolls around, many people see it as a time to take time off work, relax or plan a trip to a specific destination. For Jon-Michael Brunner, though, it has been quite the busy one.

Brunner took over as Post 1 manager last year after Mark Delbrugge stepped down. However, Brunner has been pulling double duty this summer as he is also working toward finishing up his master’s at West Liberty where he is in the physician assistant program.

“When Coach Del told me to take it over, I knew it was going to be a lot of work from the get go,” Brunner said. “He did an amazing job of the behind the scene stuff that I wanted to keep going. I thought it was important to our organization and for the future of Legion baseball, not just Post 1.

“My first order of business was to rally my troops behind me knowing that it was going to be tough for me at the beginning of the season with PA school finishing up. I really wanted to wrap up my assistants and they’ve been such a huge role this season. It’s unbelievable. The behind the scenes stuff, these guys have been a huge help with that.”

Brunner also attended West Liberty during his undergraduate years where he earned a degree in exercise physiology. Afterwards, he took a year off from school and taught a year at Linsly. He then applied and got accepted into the physician assistant program at West Liberty.

“We always talk about how the studying never stops,” Brunner said. “It’s a two-year program, the first year is all in the classroom. The second year, we get to go out and actually do things in the hospital. The studying really picks up that second year. Really the studying has been ongoing for two years and we really hit it hard the past month.”

Brunner’s day usually starts with him doing Post 1 work in the morning, such as confirming game times, making sure umpires will get to the game on time and making sure the kids are ready to go. After that, his face is usually buried in the books from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. The past two weeks, he’s had three hours lectures form 6-9 p.m., which caused him to miss some games.

But after all that studying, there’s only one place Brunner wants to be — the baseball field.

“It’s been an absolute grind so far,” Brunner said. “But like I tell everybody when they ask, ‘How are you doing it? Isn’t it a lot of work?’ For me, some people like to go read and relax, some people lay around and watch TV. For me, this is what I enjoy. When I come here, it’s like a relaxing atmosphere for me.

“I think a lot, too, it’s just seeing the excitement of the kids. Really if I had a tough day studying, they’re here to pick me up. The kids don’t know, but I look up to them. I look forward to their energy and their energetic smiles and their excitement to be part of Post 1. That’s kind of been pushing me to get through this PA thing, so I can enjoy my time here.”

Brunner will be done with his studies Friday when he takes his certification exam.

In the long run, he wants to work in pediatrics, but will begin his professional career at Wheeling Hospital in a pre-op position.

“It’s a good job. They’ll be able to be flexible with my coaching schedule as well,” Brunner said. “Really as a first job, I couldn’t ask for much more, especially taking over the Legion and having enough time to designate here. Which I said is what I love to do.”

Hard work has put Brunner into a position that he truly enjoys. With Brunner at the helm of Post 1, he hopes that he can not only help his team become better baseball players, but also hopes to help his young squad prepare for their future.

“My dad and I were talking when I got the job, ‘This is going to be fun for you to coach, but you always have to put your education first.’ That’s something we stressed even when I coached JV –academics and importance of education. I hope that the kids not only see my energy on the field and my love for baseball, but they can also see the time it takes to putting your efforts to an education,” Brunner said.

“So important. And the balance it takes. It can be done. I hope the kids see that. I think they do see the time and effort that I put into it and I hoping it rubs off on them and their future endeavors.”