A lifelong passion for baseball leads Theile to head coach position at St. John Lutheran
Paul Theile, the new baseball coach at St. John Lutheran School, during practice at St. John Lutheran School in Ocala on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2023.
Sports and exercise have been a big part of Paul Theile’s life for as long as he can remember, thanks to his father, Marvin, stressing the importance of exercise and physical activity.
“He just wanted me to know the benefit of exercise, eating healthy and taking care of my body. He wasn’t pushy at all and he wanted me to succeed as much as I could and he was always there to support me. I did gravitate towards sports, but he was more concerned about leading a healthy lifestyle, which works hand in hand with sports,” Theile said.
The new head of St. John Lutheran baseball grew up in Columbia, Missouri, and started playing sports such as baseball, football and basketball in elementary school. After moving to Detroit, Michigan, Theile attended Howell High School and played baseball all four years, his junior and senior seasons on varsity.
Theile, 33, attracted the attention of a few Division III colleges in Iowa because he was a left-handed pitcher. He graduated high school in 2007 and went to Lansing Community College with hopes of continuing his baseball career.
Unfortunately, an elbow injury led to Tommy John surgery after a year at Lansing. With the injury cutting his baseball career short, Theile joined the U.S. Navy and became a Seabee (construction builder) in the Navy Construction Battalion.
Theile’s father served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War as an 11C, Indirect Fire Infantryman, and drove an armored personnel carrier.
During his seven-year stint in the Navy, the younger Theile served two tours, one in Okinawa, Japan, in 2010-11 and in Afghanistan in 2012-13.
Theile said he learned many lessons during his military service and plans to instill the same core values with his players.
“The biggest takeaway was always complacency. I tell my players you never want to get complacent with anything you do in life. I want them to try and learn new things from coaches daily and to promote them to getting better every day,” Theile said.
During his time in the Navy, Theile and his wife, Olivia, got married in 2010 and moved to Mississippi. After he finished his military service, Theile got a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2018.
Currently, Theile is a recreation therapist for the VA North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System. The new head coach and his family moved to Ocala in August of 2018.
Coaching is not always the kindest to family life, but Theile said he has the best support system in his wife and three kids.
“My wife has always been there for me, and I honestly wouldn’t be able to coach without her. Especially having our 1-year-old (Lucas) right now, she is the foundation of our family. She supports me 100 percent, from the military to coaching baseball. I’ve coached my son the past six years and my daughter likes me being a coach. I have a strong relationship with my kids and wife, and they support me in everything I do,” Theile said.
Along with Lucas, Theile and his wife have a 10-year-old son, Jacob, and an 8-year-old daughter, Hannah. The trials and tribulations of parenthood has taught the Missouri native to be patient and that attribute has carried over into his coaching style.
“Patience has to be number one. Nothing happens overnight, even though you want it to. You always want a quick fix for everything. If you don’t have patience, you’re not going to have players that play for you. That’s something I’ve learned as a dad, you just have to make sure they understand what they are doing,” he said.
The turnaround for Theile has been quick as he was hired into the position in October and had to hit the ground running with his players to start gaining trust and buy-in.
“The hard part about buy-in while being a new coach is they want to know what’s your expectations. I’m going to give everything I can to help them succeed. That’s my job as a coach, is to get them better,” he said.
He added: “I don’t know if it’s about a buy-in so much as it’s about what I can do to help them out as a coach and succeed.”
As Theile embarks on his first season at St. John Lutheran, his goals for the players and program are clear and concise.
“My goals is to develop baseball players and student-athletes who are doing well in the classroom,” he said.
Coaches at any level of sports, especially the formative years, can leave a lasting impact on a child or young adult as they enter adulthood and Theile wants to be the type of coach who can be looked up to.
“I want to make sure that I was a good role model in their life and point them in the right direction. To be able to solidify discipline, building character and what it means to be a young man going forward in life after St. John,” he said.