Cohen Feels Grateful to Be Back on the Field
After missing his first two years of high school baseball, Kaleb Cohen wanted an opportunity to prove himself on the diamond. Kaleb got that opportunity with the Madison Senior American Legion baseball team this summer and was a pivotal piece of Post 79’s success while serving as its cleanup hitter.
Kaleb is a Madison resident who attends Hamden Hall. Kaleb saw his freshman season of baseball get canceled in 2020 and then suffered an injury to his left elbow that required surgery during the summer prior to his sophomore year. One week before he made a full recovery, Kaleb broke his left forearm and was forced to miss the season.
It was a tough time for Kaleb to step away from the sport that he loves, but he felt empowered when he did return. Kaleb had grown both physically and mentally while recovering from his injuries. Kaleb came back to the field stronger as he completely dedicated himself to the game of baseball.
“I was absolutely devastated. I hadn’t yet gotten an opportunity to prove myself on the field. But I was totally empowered by the injuries,” says Kaleb. “I fought back that much harder. Those injuries helped me not only become better than I was, but really love the game more than I ever have. I just got so much more into it.”
Kaleb started playing baseball at the age of six, but his journey in the game had already been well underway by that point. Kaleb’s father Jon and mother Dorothy often took him to Boston Red Sox games, and his father also coached him throughout his youth. By learning the sport from his father, Kaleb became a better athlete and enjoyed baseball even more.
“My dad was definitely the guy who got me into it. He really coached me until I got out of the small diamond,” Kaleb says. “Even to this day we hit batting practice, he hits me fly balls. He has really helped my swing. He was the biggest influence that I had with baseball in my life.”
Kaleb began playing travel baseball in Madison at the age of nine and continued into high school. Kaleb made numerous friends and formed several strong connections through his travel ball experience. It helped that the same team typically stuck together. The more he played, the more that Kaleb realized how much baseball meant and the more that he focused on becoming the best player he could be.
After recovering from injuries, Kaleb earned a spot as a starting outfielder for the Hamden Hall baseball team as a junior this spring. Kaleb helped Hamden Hall win the Fairchester Athletic Association championship and the New England Small School championship in a season that saw that squad won 15 of its last 16 games.
This year, one of the players on Hamden’s Hall’s JV team, Zayne Thomas, passed away on May 25. When the team’s players would break from their huddle, they would all say “ZT” in unison in honor of Thomas. When Hamden Hall won the New England Small School title, the players on the team gave Thomas’s parents the baseball.
While he knew that his team had talent, Kaleb also realized how compassionate the community was this year. Kaleb truly saw what the Hamden Hall baseball program is all about.
“It was really amazing, I made some of my best friends. I realized how much of a family our team became. It was amazing the run we went on,” says Kaleb. “That growth throughout the year was pretty incredible. That tragedy showed how strong this team and this community is.”
Following his junior season with Hamden Hall, Kalen suited up for the Madison Senior Legion baseball team this summer. Kalen batted cleanup for Post 79 and recorded a .441 batting average on the campaign. Every time he stepped up to the plate, Kaleb felt confident that he was going to make contact and find a way to get on base.
“I just felt super confident every time I stepped into the box. I felt like I would get on base and make something happen every time I was in the box,” Kaleb says. “Even though I live in Madison, I still felt like a new guy. I knew I had to step it up to prove myself. I had a great year, and I’m hoping it carries on into my senior year.”
Head Coach Jason Vitale says that Kaleb always brought a winning attitude to the Madison Legion team. Vitale calls Kaleb a difference maker and a player who everyone on the club can trust.
“Kaleb has brought a persona of winning,” says Vitale. “He goes out and wants to win and proved to be a rock for our team and our lineup day in and day out.”
When he returned from his injuries, Kaleb hit the field with a new secret weapon—his mantra of “loose, confidence, and balance.” He says it every time that he’s in the outfield or the batter’s box. Those words represent how Kaleb wants to be while competing, and that mindset helped carry him through his junior year.
“During the rebuild of my swing, my dad helped me a lot. He explained how mental the game was. He asked me, ‘What three words lock you in and make you ready to hit?’ ‘Loose, confidence, and balance,’” Kaleb says. “Today, I still say them, and it gets me ready to play every pitch.”
Alongside baseball, Kaleb is also passionate about videography. He currently owns a business on Instagram called Ktapes that involves him traveling around the state to make highlight tapes for high school athletes. Kaleb says that his entire life is defined by playing baseball and making videos.
When it comes to baseball, Kaleb enjoys the game for the same reason that some people might disregard it. Kaleb loves those slow moments when he is anticipating the play. In a split second, he can be rounding the bases.
Kaleb proved that be belonged on the field with his performance for Hamden Hall and the Madison Legion team this year. Kaleb doesn’t mind if the game is going slow at times. No matter what, Kaleb knows that he will always be ready.
“It’s really not as slow of a game to me as people think it is. In a second, you can be chasing after a ball or running around a base. Up until then, you’re just anticipating,” says Kaleb. “Baseball is a game of seconds and inches. It’s such a meticulous game. There’s so many aspects of it.”