SIDNEY – Shaped by his own successes and setbacks, Dalton Bollinger is helping baseball and softball players develop the physical skills and mindset needed to excel in their sports.
Bollinger, the owner of Bollinger Baseball and Softball, LLC, recently opened an indoor facility at 550 Folkerth Ave. in Sidney where he can help young athletes on their quest to improve and potentially play at the collegiate level like he did.
“I was never the most talented or the most in-shape kid in the world, but I think that’s what made it fun and honestly helped me in my personal life after. Going through college, my whole mindset was baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball. I didn’t even know you had to work when you were done,” Bollinger said with a laugh.
“It made me develop a mindset of how to work for something because I played against guys at the Division I level who were just freak athletes. I realized I didn’t have that. So a lot of it was I had to be smarter, I had to learn how to work my (butt) off to make it, make myself to be able to compete with them.”
The Sidney resident has worked in baseball and softball instruction since he completed his playing career at the University of Toledo in 2018, through Bollinger Baseball and Softball and with stints at Toledo and the University of St. Francis.
He’s also worked in sales and as a certified personal trainer but in June moved full-time to baseball and softball instruction.
“This is what I’ve been wanting to do my whole life so I’m pretty pumped about it,” Bollinger said.
Prior to opening his indoor facility, Bollinger worked with athletes ranging from 6 to 19 years old mostly at Custenborder Field in Sidney. He’s worked with individuals, small groups and entire teams on all aspects of baseball and softball including hitting, pitching, fielding, base running and how to be a smarter player.
“A lot of it is mindset,” he said. “What I always tell my kids is 1 percent better daily, knowing what you’re trying to work on when you go in.
“We’ve got to have fun, but we’ve also got to know what we’ve got to do to win every day.”
For Bollinger, the mental aspect of the game always has been vital to his success.
The 2014 Riverside High School graduate went to the University of Toledo as a catcher but found himself buried on the depth chart. The Rockets wanted to get his bat into the lineup and moved him to first base.
“All I ever did was catch. But I played corner infield in college,” Bollinger said, adding he was willing to do whatever the team needed.
After starting the majority of the Rockets’ games at first base his freshman and sophomore seasons, Bollinger was asked to shift to third base as a junior to open first for an incoming recruit. He spent seven months preparing for the move across the diamond.
“I led the (Mid-American Conference) in errors the first three weeks,” Bollinger said with a laugh, “put me back to first.”
While the experiment at third base didn’t work out, Bollinger’s experience of moving around the diamond gives him some perspective as he helps his students work through their own adversity.
“You’re never not a student of the game so I’m still trying to learn today,” he said.
While there were struggles at times, Bollinger did have success throughout his playing career thanks to his work ethic and studious nature.
During his junior season, Toledo faced the University of Louisville, which was ranked No. 2 in the nation. Bollinger hit a three-run home run off Brendan McKay, who later that year was drafted fourth overall by the Tampa Bay Rays.
“It allowed me to learn different skills, work ethic, and then just learned what I had to do to be successful each day, and that’s what I’m trying to kind of pass on to kids,” Bollinger, who is eighth in Toledo history with 215 career hits, said of his baseball career.
Bollinger loves that his instructional business allows him to remain connected to the sport he loves. And he enjoys getting to see the progress his pupils have made and the confidence they’ve gained.
“I had a kid who confidence-wise, he wasn’t the most confident kid in the world,” Bollinger said of a baseball player he’s worked with for two-and-a-half years.
“After we started working and developing, this kid grew a little bit. He got better. He started playing, starting behind the plate every day. He grew a mullet – he never had the confidence to grow a mullet. That’s the kind of cool stuff, though.”
Bollinger plans to continue growing his business, hoping to add new tools such as pitching mounds and machines to help catchers and infielders work on their fielding.
He recently added Anna High School graduate Elaina Crosson, who played at Edison State Community College, to his staff as a softball pitching instructor. And he has plans to bring in college coaches to host camps for baseball and softball players.
Reach the writer at [email protected] or 937-538-4824.