Career field of dreams
KSU alum Ryan Coe has big-league eye for talent
KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 12, 2016) — Ryan Coe spends his days scouting baseball players he hopes will have the same type of success in professional baseball that he enjoyed at Kennesaw State.
Coe (Public and Social Services ’98), a former All-American catcher who led the Owls to the 1994 NAIA national championship, has made a successful career out of the game he loves. Following three years as a minor league baseball player and 13 years at his alma mater as an assistant coach under Mike Sansing, Coe is in his seventh year as a Major League Baseball scout for the Texas Rangers.
“When I was coaching, I always liked the recruiting part of it,” he said. “Scouting is basically recruiting year-round.”
It’s a job with a whirlwind schedule. Coe estimates that he takes about 110 airline flights a year – sometimes four or five in one day – on scouting trips for the Rangers along the East Coast of the U.S. and into Canada.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I get to watch a lot of baseball and get paid for it,” Coe said. “Baseball always has been a big part of my life.”
As a result of Coe’s eye for talent, three of his prospects have been drafted in the first round by the Rangers, and eight players he either scouted or coached have reached the big leagues. Possibly the best-known of them is Justin Grimm, who was selected by Texas in the fifth round of the 2010 draft and now pitches for the Chicago Cubs.
“When I had Ryan as a player, I saw him wanting to coach. He loves the game and he loves the recruiting aspect,” Sansing said. “When he had the opportunity to go into scouting, I thought that was right up his alley. That job was built for him.”
Coe knows something about building – Sansing credits him with laying the foundation for the success Kennesaw State baseball has enjoyed over the past two decades. The program was in its infancy, Sansing had been the coach for only two seasons and Stillwell Stadium had not yet been built; however, Coe saw the potential at what was then Kennesaw State College.
“I always felt at home there. I had a really good feeling from my first time on campus,” he said. “I saw what it could be. What it’s become is even more than I imagined.”
After transferring from Cleveland (Tenn.) State Community College, where he was a junior-college All-American, Coe earned All-America honors in Kennesaw State’s NAIA national championship season in 1994 and again in the Owls’ first NCAA season in 1995. Research by KSU Athletics found no other player in college baseball history who was an All-American at three different levels of competition.
Coe set numerous school records, including the highest batting average in a season (.455 in 1995) and career (.411), and he was inducted into the Kennesaw State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. He played professionally in the Houston Astros organization for three years, earning Midwest League All-Star recognition in 1996, before turning his attention to coaching.
But for Coe, the individual accolades pale in comparison to a team accomplishment – the 1994 national championship. The Owls concluded the season with 17 consecutive wins to claim Kennesaw State’s first intercollegiate national title.
“The national championship is still the biggest thing, for sure. That’s what you play for,” Coe said.
“It’s been 20 years, and his name is still locked in this program. His name always will be,” Sansing said. “He was a great player, and he definitely led that ’94 team. He was the guy who led on and off the field – just a great guy to have.”
Even with all his baseball success, and the public and social services degree he earned, Coe had a much more meaningful experience at Kennesaw State – meeting his wife. He is married to a fellow KSU Athletic Hall of Famer, Cara (Dornstauder) Coe, a three-time All-American on the Owls softball team.
The Coes live in Kennesaw with their two daughters. Ryan said he still talks to Sansing just about every day, and he visits with his former coach and attends KSU baseball games when he can around his busy travel schedule.
“I’ve always thought that he and his wife are a great story,” Sansing said. “Both of them are strongly in the Kennesaw family. It’s great how they’ve stayed part of it.”
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.