Bill Chval ’88 can clearly remember the first tryout day for Marist baseball his freshman year. There were nearly 200 boys there. Ground ball fielding was going on in the gym while fly balls were being caught outside. Even for a good player it was intimidating, but he had no reason to worry. Chval would make the freshman squad and then become a three-year varsity player.
He recalls teacher and assistant baseball coach Joe Inzinga ’77 taking him aside very early on and telling him that his Marist experience would provide all that he needed to be successful. That was true, Chval explained, and said he absorbed everything the coaches offered, especially Don Kuehner, Werner Emmrich, and Brian O’Connor.
The coaching and stellar players added up to success. Chval remembers his senior season specifically. They had a great roster and were a favorite from the outset, but they lost four of their six games. They had a players-only meeting in the gym and decided to “refuse to lose.” They wrote RTL on everything—shirts, mitts, balls. They won the next twenty straight and advanced to the state semifinal. Chval was a starter for three years, playing third base and left field. His batting average was over .400 all four seasons. He racked up accolades from the conference, newspapers, and the state.
“I especially remember the group of guys I was with all four years and how we evolved,” Chval said. “The coaches prepared these guys to challenge themselves, to push for accountability, to overcome adversity, and to be consistent.”
After Marist, he attended Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where he continued his baseball career as Division I starter. “Marist prepared you for life beyond college in the classroom and on the field. There is no doubt in my mind,” Chval said.
Since then athletics have continued to be a part of his life. Chval coached baseball at St. Rita High School before transitioning to softball. He loved the game and wanted to connect athletically with his daughters. He now runs Wheatland Spikes, a softball program for 7 to 18 year-old girls. He has also been an assistant football coach at Benet Academy and says each time he returns to Marist for a game, the memories all come back.
Chval is the vice-president at Snapsheet, a Chicago-based tech company that serves the insurance industry. He and his wife, Kerri, live in Aurora with their three daughters.