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Taylor University continues to be Kyle Gould's passion

TROJANS: Taylor baseball coach Kyle Gould congratulates one of the Trojans after a home run. Gould has Taylor off to a 12-4 start this season and recently surpassed Larry Winterholter a top the list for most wins in program history.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Sometimes the term “a lifer” can carry a negative connotation. Yet, if you told Kyle Gould he was a lifer for Taylor University, he would smile broadly and say ‘thank you’.

Growing up, Gould wanted to attend Taylor — sight unseen. When the opportunity came at age 24 to coach the Trojans baseball team, he immediately jumped at it. Two years ago, he added athletic director duties to his busy, hectic schedule.

Tuesday, he has surpassed one of his mentors, Larry Winterholter, and became the Trojans’ all-time winningest baseball coach. God willing, Gould will continue remain at the Upland campus coaching and fulfilling his other duties for life.

“I love working at Taylor,” Gould said Thursday evening. “I believe in the mission of Taylor and who I get work with and the other coaches I work with and we’re all on the same page and trying to accomplish the same things.”

Gould won his 445th game against 261 defeats (63 percent winning percentage) during the doubleheader sweep of Cincinnati Christian at Winterholter Field. Winterholter won 444 games in 21 seasons as the Trojans coach from 1981-2001.

“It was never a goal to break any records or win any games,” said Gould, who has the Trojans off to a 12-4 start. “I’m just so blessed to be part of Taylor baseball.

“I’ve been blessed to play at Taylor for coach Winterholter (three years) and coach Rakes and blessed to have some great assistant coaches that are a joy to be around. Guys like Rick Atkinson and Devin Wilburn and Chad Newhard who are currently on staff and the many many in the past.

“And more than anything, we have such a great group of guys,” he added. “One of the hallmarks of the guys who I’ve been fortunate enough to coach is they care more about others than themselves.”

Since taking over the baseball program, Gould has guided the Trojans to seven Crossroads League regular season championships including five straight from 2009 to ‘13 and won four league tournaments, the most recent in 2016. He’s been named the league’s coach of the year five times over the last eight seasons.

Taylor has appeared in six NAIA National Tournaments and five are under Gould (2009, ‘10, ‘12, ‘13 and ‘16). The 2016 team won 40 games to set the program single season record, and his last nine teams have won at least 32 games.

Besides his coaching duties, Gould oversees as athletic director Taylor’s 18 athletic programs that will soon include men’s and women’s lacrosse. He said he enjoys the extra workload and has no intention of giving up either position.

“I don’t have any plans now of doing one over the other,” he said. “I’m enjoying what I do now and enjoy the coaches at Taylor and the athletes I get to coach, and I am passionate about both.

“My boss Skip Trudeau is the best boss I could have and supportive of me doing both. I have an assistant athletic director Jess Fankhouser and she’s incredible at how much work she does,” he added. “I’m blessed beyond belief that I have an incredible setup.”

The name Gould has a storied history at Taylor and Kyle Gould’s uncle, Nelson Gould, is a hall of fame four-sport athlete and a one time head football coach for the Trojans. Yet, Kyle said his uncle had little influence on his decision to initially attend Taylor as a student and play baseball in the late 1990s.

“Growing up, I can’t explain it to you, but I always felt called to Taylor. That’s a weird thing to say,” he said. “But in high school I said I was going to go to Taylor, and I had never even been there.

“When I was little there were older kids that I looked up to who went to Taylor, but I never even knew where Taylor was in Indiana,” Gould continued. “I have two older brothers who went to Grace (College) and my parents wanted me to go to a Christian school. Their only question would be if I would be accepted. Looking back they were right — I don’t measure up to the guys I get to coach, academically.”

Gould came to Taylor after graduating from Triton High School, located halfway between Warsaw and Plymouth, and became a four-year all-conference catcher for the Trojans. After graduating in 2002 he remained as an assistant baseball coach, but after only two years then athletic director Dave Bireline elevated Gould to head coach.

“Dave took chance on me and provided a lot of mentorship for sure and was kind enough to help me when I made a lot of mistakes,” Gould said. “He’s meant a lot to me and still does. He’s a great friend and I’m thankful everyday he gave me this opportunity when he probably shouldn’t have.”

Gould has recruited and developed talented players with 55 first team all-conference, six players of the year and five pitchers of the year. Two of Gould’s players — Josh DeGraaf and Taylor Kinzer — were drafted by Major League teams, and DeGraaf continues to pitch in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

At age 38, Gould has many years to build on his win total and certainly 1,000 victories wouldn’t be far-fetched. But that isn’t the most important part of his continued association with his alma mater.

“I don’t know if I dreamed I’d still be working here and this is how my life has turned out,” he said. “But the easiest choice in my life was coming to Taylor.

“I love Taylor and there’s not many people who love Taylor more than I do. It’s meant so much to my life,” Gould added. “The best people I’ve ever met in my life I met at Taylor and most of them through baseball. I met my wife and best friend and have gotten to coach so many special people that I’m fortunate enough to keep in contact with today.”