Joy of the Game Baseball & Softball

About :: Staff

We are very pleased to offer an outstanding lineup of baseball and softball coaches. The staff is a mix of some familiar names along with some new faces that will carry on the great teaching tradition we have established. Our staff at Players Edge brings a passion for helping players reach their maximum potential as a player and a person. player and a person.

Baseball Staff Bios


Eddie Holbrook - Director of Baseball
coming soon
Coach Holbrook, our Director of Baseball, is a Players Edge fixture. From planning clinics to teaching players of all ages, he has made a positive impact since at the Academy. In his last year at Trinity International University, where he came to join his high school coach, Mike Manes, Eddie was a mainstay in the outfield. A switch-hitter, Eddie also was a member of the University of Nebraska team that won the 2002 Big 12 championship team and played in the College World Series. Eddie is a hitting and fielding instructor who has developed a loyal following.

University of Nebraska - Big 12 Champion, College World Series
Trinity International University - Assistant Coach
Crusader Baseball, Lincoln, Nebraska - Head coach

Eric Knott
coming soon
As a collegiate player Knott spent the 2005 and 2006 campaigns with McHenry County College (Crystal Lake, IL). While at McHenry County Knott posted an 18-4 record and was the team leader in strikeouts, complete games, and ERA. During his sophomore season Knott threw the schools first and only perfect game. After a successful career at McHenry County, Knott committed to play with the Augustana Vikings (Rock Island, IL). His success carried over into his junior and senior seasons where more school records would fall. During his junior year Knott set a school record with 97 1/3 innings pitched for the Vikings who would finish the season one game shy of the World Series and a #6 National AP ranking. He went on to lead the team in victories and strikeouts. He posted a 13-7 record with the Vikings. Knott would finish his career with the Vikings as a top five record holder in Wins, ERA, Strikeouts, and Pickoffs. During his four year collegiate career Knott finished with a pitching record of 31-11 and was named all conference four years, All-region two years, and was a Rawlings All-American Gold Glove Award Finalist.

After Graduating with a Masters Degree in Business, Knott began his coaching career at the collegiate level. Knott would spend two years with Tiffin University (Tiffin, OH) where the Dragons set school records for DII wins. After two years with the TU Dragons, he found his way to Dominican University (River Forest, IL) under Coach Steve Hardman. Knott called it quits after 3 seasons of coaching at the collegiate level and has been a member of the Knights coaching staff for two years.

Todd Brunschon
coming soon
Coach Todd Brunschon is the head coach of the 2012 16u Northern Knights Elite Summer Tournament Team. Todd has been an instructor, specializing in hitting and fielding at Players Edge since 2007. Todd graduated From Huntley High School as a 3 time varsity letterman and 3 time team captain. He was a 2 time All-Conference selection and team MVP, leading the team in BA, RBI's, Home Runs, Doubles and Slugging his senior year. Todd went on to play at Trinity International University where he was a 2 year varsity letterman and the Trojan's primary power threat. Todd has coached at all levels including, youth, high school and college age teams. He brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to his coaching as well as an "old school" belief in fundamentals and discipline. Todd likes to say that his teams play baseball "the right way - the way it was meant to be played".

Zach Scipione
coming soon
Coach Scipione brings a positive attitude toward his students and will serve as the Assistant Coach for our 17U Northern Knights Elite Summer Tournament Team. Coach Scipione has given private lessons in hitting, catching, pitching, and fielding for Players Edge throughout his college playing days and continues to do so today. Coach Scipione is currently the catching coach at Harper College. Prior to coaching at Harper, Coach Scipione was the assistant varsity coach and hitting coach at Genoa-Kingston High School (2010) and St. Edward High School in Elgin (2011). Coach Scipione was a high school standout at Conant High School where he earned All-Conference MSL and All-Area honors for Cook County. Coach Scipione earned a scholarship to Judson University and was an All-Conference and All-Region catcher. He is on the top five career records list in multiple categories including; hits, at-bats, doubles, runs, and runs batted in. He held the single season doubles record with 18 in 2007 upon completing his playing career in 2009.

Jim Mecir
coming soon
Jim Mecir brings a major league approach to his teaching and provides his students a knowledge base built on both his playing experience and the coaching he received all throughout his major league career. Coach Mecir typically works with travel and high school pitchers.

Jim was drafted in the 3rd round by the Seattle Mariners in the 1991 amateur draft. A Queens native who grew up rooting for the Yankees, Jim made his major-league debut in Yankee Stadium in 1995 with Seattle. After the season, he was sent to the Bronx with Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson in a deal that brought Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock to the Mariners. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in August 1997. Selected by Tampa Bay in the November 1997 expansion draft, Jim pitched well for the Devil Rays but fractured his elbow in a freak collision with teammate Rick White the following May. The injury ended his season early, but he recovered the next year and became one of the most sought-after relievers on the trading block that July. Tampa Bay eventually dealt him to Oakland for hot prospect Jesus Colome, and Jim settled in as one of the A's top setup men, filling in at times for closer Jason Isringhausen. One of his main weapons was a screwball, making him one of the few right-handers in baseball history to use the pitch, following in the footsteps of Christy Mathewson and Mike Marshall. Jim received the 2003 Tony Conigliaro Award, presented to a Major League player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of former Boston Red Sox star Tony Conigliaro.

Chuck Gandolfi
coming soon
Players Edge is proud to have Coach Gandolfi on staff. Coach Gandolfi has been the head coach of the Carmel Cosairs since 1989. He has won over 500 games over his 20 years in Carmel's dugout. Under Coach Gandolfi, the Corsairs have also won six East Suburban Catholic Conference championships -- more than any other team in the league -- and nine regionals. Plus, they've been downstate four times -- in 1990, 1994, 1999 and in 2004, which yielded a third place and the program's highest-ever state tournament finish. Coach Gandolfo was elected to the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.

Gandolfi has also primed 80 players for college careers -- 34 at the Division I level. Five have even gone on to play professionally.

Coach Gandolfi is available in the fall and winter prior to the start of the high school baseball season and offers his expertise in hitting both in private lessons and in clinics.


John Devito
coming soon
Over the last 15 years, John has taken his knowledge as a player and transitioned that as a Manager and Coach to give something back to the community and game that has been a passion of his since he was youth. John has been involved and coached at the Little League Level in Mundelein Illinois and managed several strong Williamsport teams during his time as a Mundelein Little League coach. In addition, John was involved and coached two very successful semi travel teams that were based out of the Mundelein Little League program and was a true believer of teaching proper fundamentals of the game that have transitioned many top area players in the area to have successful high school careers. Several of those young high school players during his coaching tenure at their youth levels have now started to begin collegiate careers.

His playing career spanned a 4 year career at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 1982-1987 and was an integral contributor to the baseball program at UIC. John was a scholarship player as a 3rd baseman and Outfielder and then made the transition as a Catcher after his Freshman season. During his collegiate summers he played for several highly competitive and successful local Chicago area Legion teams. After his collegiate playing career John continued to play Semi-Pro Baseball with several top quality teams in the Chicago area up until the age of 30.

Presently, John is involved and has been a coach in the Mundelein Feeder Baseball program at the 13 and 14 yr old age level for almost 10 years and has brought his knowledge of the game to many youth and High School players for more than a decade. John has worked as an instructor at Joy of the Game and is beginning his 3rd season. John is available for hitting, infield/outfield, pitcher and catching lessons starting in November through April/Early-Mid May for private lessons.

Ryan Dunsworth
coming soon
Ryan is one of Players Edge's longest tenured instructors, starting back in 2004. He is from Galesburg, Illinois and is a product of the successful Kankakee Community College baseball program. As a two year starter at KCC, Ryan played in the Junior College World Series twice and was named first team All Region. Ryan still holds several records at KCC. Ryan continued his college career at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he starred for coach Sal Bando, Jr. An outfielder, Ryan was a speed demon, leading his teams in stolen bases, triples and hit by pitch annually. Ryan is a highly sought after hitting and fielding instructor at Players Edge.

Galesburg High School - MVP
Kankakee Community College - 2 Time NJCAA II World Series appearances, All-Region, Team leader in stolen bases and hit by pitch
University of Wisconsin-Parkside - School record for hit by pitch and stolen bases

Ryan's has also coached many travel baseball teams, including:
2011 Northern Knights 18u
2007 & 2008 Glenview Blaze 13u/14u
Buffalo Grove Bulldogs 12u


Todd Dovichi
coming soon
Bio coming soon.

Matt Miller
coming soon
Bio coming soon.

Drew Simonis
coming soon
Bio coming soon.

Jeremy Gould
coming soon
Bio coming soon.

Jeff Baird
coming soon
Bio coming soon.

Softball Staff Bios

Kent Szarabajka - Director of Softball
coming soon
Coach Szarabajka, our Director of Softball, brings an extraordinary level of teaching experience to Players Edge. From private lessons, softball clinics and developing our elite High School program, the Illinois Impact, he not only well known at the Academy, but throughout the softball community. Coach Szarabajka has help thousands of players during his coaching tenure and is equally comfortable working with the youngest of players to the most experienced high level athletes. Simply put, he loves the game of softball and teaching it to those that want to learn and improve.

Coach Szarabajka, a minor league baseball player with the San Diego Padres, transitioned to softball years ago and has coached in the Prospect Heights , Riverside and Vernon Hills Stingers programs before forming and coaching the Illinois Impact. In addition to coaching, he has also played a key administrative role with the Vernon Hills Stinger program. He holds teaching certifications from NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association), A.C.E. (Achieve, Certify, Educate) and ASEP (Professional Coaches Education Program).

Coach Szarabajka is one of the most sought after softball instructors in the Northern Suburbs. He is available nearly seven days a week and both Players Edge locations.

Whitney Folven
coming soon
Players Edge is very happy to have Coach Folven on staff. In addition to giving private hitting lessons, she specializes in teaching the catchers position. Coach Folven is a Head Coach in our Illinois Impact Elite High School Softball program.