Dan Nessler knows his way around a ball diamond.
Whether it was playing baseball at the high-school or collegiate level or competing in fastpitch softball at the national and international level, Nessler has made a name for himself.
It all started in St. James.
Nessler, a 1981 graduate of St. James High School, competed in various sports and in high school was a three-sport athlete competing in football, basketball and baseball. By the time he graduated, Nessler had earned nine varsity letters, and for all of his success he was recently inducted into the St. James High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Nessler was part of a state football team in 1980 and played quarterback for the Saints.
As a member of the baseball team, Nessler played shortstop and led off for the Saints and was a member of the 1979 team that won a state championship. In those years there were only two classes of state baseball, added Nessler, who said back then the Class A champion also competed against the Class AA championship with St. James, the Class A champion coming out on top.
‘That was a lot of fun,” said Nessler.
People remember Nessler as a baseball player, and that is where his success continued, as he competed at the college level playing for Mankato State. He played for three conference champion teams at Mankato and played in three NCAA regional tournaments during his time playing college baseball.
Nessler began playing fastpitch softball while in Mankato, and over the years he played for teams that consistently were competing at the highest level. He played on three International Softball Congress world championship teams with Penn Corp out of Sioux City Iowa, and over the years has been inducted into he Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame, the Minnesota State-Mankato Hall of Fame and the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame.
For Nessler, the induction into the St. James High School Athletic Hall of Fame is a great honor and he said he feels humbled to know someone considered him worthy of the recognition.
Nessler gives credit to the St. James baseball program for much of his success, adding he was able to get involved early in life, adding he enjoyed playing Pee Wee base- ball as well as on VFW and Legion teams.
In fact, in 1978 he said the VFW team he played on won the state championship.
Nessler said he had two older brothers who were involved in athletics, and so it was only natural for him to follow in their footsteps. He found his passion on the baseball diamond.
He added for a kid who was 5’9” and weighed 150 pounds he was not the biggest or the strongest player on any team. Yet, he added, he continued to work hard because he was playing a game he enjoyed.
Nessler earned a degree in business marketing with a minor in speech communications from Mankato State University and worked in the printing industry. Today he the owner of Promotions Powerhouse in Mankato, and is serv- ing as the coach for the Bethany Lutheran College women’s softball team. He is in his third season at the helm of the team this year.
As an athlete and a coach, Nessler said he has learned a number of lessons that he shares with his players.
Baseball, he said, is a sport of failure.
After all, a player who is celebrated for having a .300 batting average is getting out 70 percent of the time.
“That is a model for life,” said Nessler. “No matter what gets thrown at you, you have to deal with it. Life is full of adversity. You just have to learn to handle it.”
Nessler said St. James has a great athletic history, adding for him it is great to know he has been recognized as a part of that.
Photo courtesy of Minnesota State University - Mankato.