Kennard’s Jaden Kulms Signs to Play College Baseball

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

KENNARD –  Kennard Independent School District’s (KISD) recently-graduated Jaden Kulms signed to play baseball at the college level at a ceremony held in the KISD gym Monday, July 17. Kulms was recruited by the University of the Ozarks (UofO) in Clarksville, Arkansas. 

The Messenger has followed Kulms’ career, especially these last months of his senior year as he was one of the leaders pushing the team to the state level. The Messenger was aware a scout from UofO was at some of the playoff games in Rusk, but did not publish this information until only recently. 

As family, friends and fans gathered in the gym, Kulms was his typical humble self, confident in his ability but humbled by the experience. Kulms talked about how being a senior this year launched him into a leadership role he knew he could not refuse.

“There were definitely some big shoes to fill, but it felt great to be the mentor to everybody,” Kulms said. “Some younger guys from freshman just starting out, looking up to me and me trying to come through in the big moments.”

The coaches at UofO no doubt noticed Kulms ability to handle the ball, and himself, on both sides of the plate – excelling at pitching and catching when called to do so. KISD Baseball Coach Blake Wallace said Kulms is exactly what a college-level coach would look for. 

“A lot of kids want to play at the college level, but coaches can see who can really deal with college-level ball,” Wallace explained. “Kulms has the ‘coach-ability’ and the mental toughness to play at the next level – and that’s all you can really ask for.”

Kulms’ father Jerrod Kulms was proud of his son and said it’s time for him to go out and see the world a little. 

“I think it’s good for him to leave a little town like this and go out and explore and see that there’s more to life –  good and bad,” Kulms Sr. said. “I like the college and the coach is real grounded and is going to keep a tight grip on his boys. I just want him to give it all he’s got, 110% and have no regrets.”

Kulms is excited about the prospect of playing at UofO, more to learn, new horizons and a new field just about ready for its debut. 

“I’m very excited and there will be a $6.2 million baseball and softball complex built by the time I get there,” Kulms said. “I really like Coach Gentry (UofO Baseball Coach Aaron Gentry,) I love the campus, everything’s new and updated with great baseball facilities, so I’m looking forward to it.”

As Kulms prepared to sign the paperwork and teammates and family gathered to take a picture with him, he might have already been thinking about those who would no longer be just down the road if he needed some hometown support. 

“I’m going to miss the small town, the community, knowing everybody – this is going to be all new. It’s going to be very different, but I am looking forward to the next step in my journey,” Kulms concluded. 

A little piece of Kennard and Houston County, out in the wider world and the community couldn’t be prouder of him and all the Kennard Tigers who worked so hard and played so well this season. 

Next year, Coach Wallace will begin to show what new talents he has up his sleeve as KISD begins to work with the next generations of athletes. 

 Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected] 

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