By Kristie Kahl
When asked about professional athletes that have come out of Rider University, Jason Thompson tends to be the only name that comes to mind for most people.
Many people don’t know about the various other athletes who have left Rider to pursue the higher road of professional sports, ranging from the Euroleague to Major League Baseball.
The most recent of the bunch includes baseball player Carl Loadenthal, a former Bronc who has been working his way up the major leagues’ ladder. He currently plays for Triple-A Richmond Braves while waiting for his call from the big leagues. If Chris Coste can do it as a 33-year-old rookie for the Philadelphia Phillies, Loadenthal has potential at the age of 26.
Loadenthal was signed as an undrafted free agent out of a tryout camp in Baltimore five years ago. He has hit at every level for the Braves, ranging from the rookie league to the three levels of Class A baseball.
Although Loadenthal began the 2008 season as an outfielder for Mississippi, he moved up to Richmond after returning from a strained oblique. Throughout this season, he has played 68 games with the Richmond Braves, bringing in 25 runs with 58 hits, 13 RBIs and a .278 batting average.
With his success in the minors, it seems as if it is only a matter of time until Loadenthal can play with the big boys. The question is, will he stay with the Braves or be traded to another team in the meantime? In the coming months, we can sit by and watch to see what his future holds.
Other Broncs gone pro are baseball players Kevin Barry and Jason Koehler.
Barry graduated from Rider in 2001, not reaching the major leagues until 2006. He pitched in 19 major league games, compiling a 1-1 record for the season. In 25 innings, Barry accumulated 19 strike outs and a major league ERA of 5.61.
Barry has retired since his two-year run. In his four years at Rider, Barry accumulated a 20-12 career record, the fifth best at Rider. He also set a single season Rider record with 91 strikeouts and a career record with 262 strikeouts.
Koehler played three seasons at Rider before being drafted in the 17th round as a junior, signing a professional baseball contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996.
Koehler played his rookie season with the St. Catharine’s Stompers, batting .230 with four home runs and 18 RBIs. Since then, Koehler has retired from professional baseball to pursue a career in business.
While at Rider, Koehler set the Bronc career home run record of 33, which still stands. He set more records, gathering 17 home runs in one season and finishing 19th in the nation with .32 home runs per game.
One more Bronc to find success in the professional world was Bobby Smith.
After graduation in 1972, Smith began his nine-year North American Soccer League (NASL) career after being selected as one of the original players for the Philadelphia Atoms, formed in 1973. Smith was selected as a second-round pick in the 1973 College Draft.
Smith was the only American named a NASL first team all-star in 1975, NASL second team all-star in 1974 and 1979, and is one of the only three American players who won three NASL Championships.
At Rider, Smith was twice selected as the All-Middle Atlantic Conference West Division Most Valuable Player. He held Rider records for career goals (46) and career points (112), and he currently ranks second in both. Since his soccer days, Smith has been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame as well.
To top off the list are Euroleague basketball players Mario Porter and Jerry Johnson, both 2005 Rider gaduates. Porter is a power forward in France while Johnson takes the position of point guard in Poland.
With all of the success that has come out of Rider athletics in the past, sit back and watch to see who is next.