Two-sport star will play college baseball, also a rare football talent

Wes Pittelkow (27) greets Aaron Chapman with a flying body bump after Chapman’s 65-yard touchdown catch against Burlington in September. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

In an age when many high school athletes are focusing on one sport, Waterford dual-sport athlete Aaron Chapman thumbs his nose at the new trend.

Chapman’s dual-sport experience starts in the spring with a strict pre-game baseball routine of batting and fielding practice and stretching before turning double plays and splitting the gaps with extra base hits in games.

By late summer, Chapman’s Neanderthal gene kicks in just in time for football. On game days, his transformation started with listening to “We Ready” by Archie Eversole on a giant speaker in the locker room.

Chapman then took the field for pre-game warmups and commenced getting locked in for the brutal four-quarter combat.

By the time the marching band played the national anthem, Chapman raised his helmet in the air with his teammates signaling they were ready.

Essentially, Chapman gets to be Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk each school year, earning all-conference honors in both sports, and conference defensive player of the year and honorable mention all-state in football.

For his intense focus and elite athleticism, Chapman was an obvious choice for the 2017 Southern Lakes Newspapers Western Racine County Male Athlete of the Year.

“My parents have always supported me playing both sports,” Chapman said. “Personally, I think I’m better at baseball because I’ve done it almost my whole life, where I picked up football along the way just to try something else.”


Heading out of state

College scouts agreed with Chapman. The senior committed to play baseball at Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne, a small Division 1 school, with no intention of playing football.

“I never really tried to contact schools for football,” Chapman said. “I’ve had 100 percent interest in playing baseball in college since I was a young kid. I choose IUPUFW because they are giving me an opportunity to play right away at shortstop, and it’s closer to home than other schools.”

Chapman also had offers from other D1 schools, including Central Michigan and Chicago State. Other larger schools from West Virginia to Notre Dame also showed interest.

Although baseball is on the forefront, Chapman’s immense football talent is undeniable.

“He is one the best defensive backs I’ve ever coached,” Waterford football coach Adam Bakken said. “He had just an incredible junior and senior year, and was unbelievably athletic as a two-way player for us and also a special teams player. Just a heck of a football player.”

Chapman showed off his hitting skills with a .389 batting average as a junior. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

This past fall, Chapman earned Southern Lakes Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors as a defensive back with six interceptions and 60 tackles. Offensively, Chapman caught 38 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns. Chapman also took snaps at quarterback, running for a pair of touchdowns.

Chapman’s immense impact helped Waterford (8-3) finish second in the Southern Lakes Conference and earn bragging rights against Burlington in an unforgettable 28-27 comeback victory in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs.

“I’m going to miss football a lot,” Chapman said. “This past season was special, and I’ll never forget being down 21-7 to Burlington in the fourth quarter and coming back to win in overtime.”

“Coach Bakken is one of my favorite coaches ever,” he added. “He always pushes me to keep working hard. He showed me what my ceiling could be in football.”


Sports love began early

Before becoming a dynamic two-sport athlete, Chapman started out playing tee ball at age 4.

He then started playing in traveling leagues at age 9 for the Wind Lake Screaming Eagles. He also played club baseball for the Prospect Training Academy in Milwaukee and traveled to other states to battle teams in Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

When the cold Wisconsin weather kicked in, Chapman continued taking right-handed swings at the academy’s indoor facility.

The extra swings have helped Chapman become a vital cog in the Wolverines’ success. Chapman struck out just three times last season, hitting primarily in the run-producing 3-spot in the lineup.

He also played second base at an all-conference level to help the Wolverines finish just one win short of qualifying for state last season.

“My hitting is my best quality,” Chapman said. “I usually hit third in the lineup, but I’m more of a doubles guy. I hate striking out, so if I get behind in the count, I try to put the ball in play.”

Coach (Lance) Bestland is a more relaxed guy, but a great coach,” He added. “When we would prepare for teams, we knew when and where they would run and we were always on point.”


A busy Fall

Chapman didn’t stop playing baseball in June for the varsity team. He continued playing club baseball, and received permission to play baseball in the fall, making weekends extremely busy.

“In my junior year, there were times where I would play a football game Friday night and then hit the road to play baseball that same weekend,” Chapman said. “A few weeks it was tough doing that. But Coach Bakken was on board with me playing baseball in the fall.”

“My parents were more concerned about injuries with football,” Chapman said. “My dad was always worried about football ruining my career.”

Ironically, Chapman credits his dad, Tony, for convincing him to give football a try when he was 10. Tony was a terrific athlete as well, playing college baseball.

From there, Aaron developed into one of the top dual-sport athletes in the area.

In a couple months, Chapman gets one more chance to play the sport he loves at the high school level.

“We have been a game or two from state the past two seasons, and last year one win away when we lost to Burlington,” Chapman said.

“They are tough to beat so this is going to be a challenge replacing pitching and trying to knock off the Demons.”

Then it’s off to college to focus on course work and baseball.

“The goal is to get to college and go four years and get a degree in business or marketing,” Chapman said. “We’ll see where I’m at with baseball and see if there is potential to continue to play baseball.”

With his tremendous drive and dedication, Chapman should have similar success in his college career.


The best of 2017

It was a wild, eventful 2017, and we want to capture the best athletes, coach and team of the year.

Southern Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor Mike Ramczyk, along with sports correspondents Tim Wester and Chris Bennett, picked the best of the best from Western Racine County, which included candidates from Burlington, Waterford, Union Grove and Catholic Central high schools.

Stay tuned to for the rest of our year-end features.

Here’s our list of winners:

Female Athlete: Jessa Burling, senior, Burlington

Male Athlete: Aaron Chapman, Waterford

Coach: Rob Domagalski, Union Grove girls basketball

Team: Burlington girls volleyball