Meet Our Staff
Founder & President
Brian grew up in St. Charles, MN and was a 3-sport athlete coming out of high school. After high school he attended Augsburg College where he was a 4-year starter with the Auggies. After graduation, Brian worked as an assistant coach for the Auggies during the 2008 and 2009 season. Since that time, he has worked for the Minnesota Twins Youth Training Camp for seven years, started Bambenek Hitting Academy, owned a former baseball academy in the northern metro, and coached in the prestigious Cape Cod League for the Cotuit Kettleers. Bambenek is the Owner of Great Lakes Baseball Academy.
Paul Weidner grew up in Randolph, MN as a 3-sport athlete. Weidner played collegiately for Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. During his 4 years in college, Weidner began coaching teams for Great Lakes and became a constant figure in the organization. He immediately began his collegiate coaching career on the Bethel staff following his graduation in 2015 and was on staff there from 2015-2018. Weidner was also hired as the full time Director of Baseball Operations for Great Lakes in 2016, a role that he served in before landing a spot as an assistant coach in the Cape Cod Summer Collegiate League, the premier summer collegiate league in the country, in the summer of 2018. That led to a spot as an assistant coach at Creighton University in Omaha, NE beginning in the Fall of 2018.
While at Creighton, the Blue Jays enjoyed immediate success in 2019, winning the Big East Regular Season Championship as well as the Big East Tournament Championship and earning a bid to an NCAA regional. In the regional, the Blue Jays eliminated defending National Champion Oregon State on their home field and would lose in the regional final to eventual national runner-up, the University of Michigan. Creighton’s staff would earn Big East Coaching Staff of the Year honors that season and would see 6 players drafted in that year’s MLB draft, with another player signing an undrafted free agent contract after the draft. The following two seasons would see a COVID shortened year followed by another successful 2021 campaign that led to a 2nd place finish in the Big East Regular Season and a birth in the Big East Tournament.
Weidner then left Creighton following the 2021 season to take a position as the head coach of the Rochester Honkers in the prestigious Northwoods Collegiate Summer League. At the conclusion of his summer with the Honkers, he once again joined us at Great Lakes, this time as the Executive Director beginning in August of 2021.
Weidner, his wife Olivia, and their two kids Brooks and Palmer live in New Brighton, MN.
High School & College Recruiter
Josh grew up in Inver Grove Heights, MN where he played Varsity baseball for three years at Simley, with two of them as the starting Catcher. In his senior year, he was selected by his teammates and coaches to be the captain of the team. After high school, he went on to play four years of college baseball for Saint Mary’s University. During the summer months, he played for the Stillwater Loggers amateur team. In Spring 2016, he graduated with a degree from SMU majoring in Biology/ Exercise Science and minoring in Entrepreneurship. Josh has coached for Inver Grove Heights youth baseball association and VFW/Jr. Legion baseball teams since 2012. In May 2018, Ketchmark accepted a full-time position at Great Lakes as the Director of Baseball Operations.
Youth Director & Hitting Coordinator
Tim grew up in Roseville, MN where he played Varsity baseball for three years at Roseville High School. After high school, Tim went to Waldorf University where he started for the Warriors. After his freshmen year, Pasiuk transferred to Bethan Lutheran where he finished his four year degree as a 3-year letter winner for the Vikings. In the Spring of 2019, he graduated with a degree in Exercise Science. Pasiuk has coached for Roseville VFW and Legion baseball teams since 2017. In August 2019, Pasiuk accepted a full-time position at Great Lakes as Youth Director.
Matt Doornink grew up in Cottage Grove, MN where he attended Park High School. Doornink was a 2 year starter, earning all-conference honors his senior year. After high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin Stout, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in packaging. Doornink pitched 4 years at UW-Stout, earning All-WIAC Conference honors in 2007. During his career as a Blue Devil, Doornink set the conference record for appearances in a season and is the career leader in school history in strikeouts, season and career appearances. In addition to working with Great Lakes, Doornink has coached the St. Paul Park American Legion baseball team since 2009, is a member on the River Falls Baseball Council, and currently pitches for the River Falls Fighting Fish.
Director of Strength & Performance
Landon Messner grew up in southern Minnesota and joined the Lumberjacks staff in September of 2020 as the Director of Strength and Performance. He currently oversees all aspects of strength and conditioning for the Great Lakes athletes ages 14-18. Before joining the Academy in Woodbury, he worked at the University of Minnesota as an intern under their world class performance staff, coaching and programming for elite athletes and learning what it takes for an athlete to compete at the highest level.
Prior to his time at the University of Minnesota, Messner coached with high school athletes as the head strength and conditioning coach of both GFW High School and West Lutheran High School. At both schools he implemented Strength and Conditioning programs for football, volleyball, basketball, track, softball, and baseball.
Messner is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He is also certified as a Level 1 Performance Coach through the United States of America Weightlifting (USAW).
Messner is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN where he earned his bachelor degree in Biology. He currently lives in Bloomington, MN with his wife and son.
Nate grew up in Duluth, MN where he began his coaching career after suffering a knee injury which sidelined him from continuing his athletic career. He currently works as the Sports Scientist for Great Lakes Baseball Academy where he works with the strength and conditioning and baseball staffs to utilize scientifically guided practices to improve the health and performance for Great Lakes Athletes.
Prior to his time with Great Lakes, Nate has accrued over 9 years of coaching experience with 7 of those being dedicated to improving the performance of athletes. He got his feet wet in the industry working as a high school strength and conditioning coach where he trained every possible MSHL sport. Nate then moved to the Twin Cities area to pursue his master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Science. While attending the University of Minnesota, he worked as a Sports Science intern with men and women’s hockey, men’s swimming, and women’s Soccer. Upon finishing his Master’s degree, Nathan continued working through Minnesota’s Professional Internship Program as an Assistant Performance Coach for men and women’s basketball, golf, and the Spirit Squads.
Throughout the course of Nate’s career, he has worked in both the collegiate and private sectors working with clinical populations as well elite athletes and military populations. Utilizing research guided practices, he provides a unique blend of training with actionable insights to bring together the fields of Athletic Medicine and Athletic Performance.
Wells currently has a BS in Exercise Science, an M.Ed. in Sports and Exercise Science, CSCS, RPR L2, FMS L1, and HPBT. He currently lives in Saint Paul, MN.
Coach Ponsolle, a native of St. Paul, MN, began his coaching career as a Volunteer Assistant at Friends University in Wichita, KS in 2009. During that year he coached the hitters and infielders. He coached Friends to a team batting average of .312 in that season.
In 2010, Coach Ponsolle moved to Kansas Wesleyan University as an Assistant Coach, primarily working with hitters, and catchers. In 2011, under coach Ponsolle, KWU’s team batting average climbed to .329, ranking 14th in the country. KWU was also ranked in the top 20 in six other offensive categories, including home runs per game and slugging percentage. In 2012, the team batting average ranked 16th in the country, with a .324 average and was in the top 10 in slugging percentage and home runs per game. In that year they were also top 20 in RBI’s per game and runs scored per game. Coach Ponsolle also assisted with recruiting in his tenure at KWU.
In 2013, coach Ponsolle started his first season as the Head Coach at Roseville Area High School in Roseville, MN. His teams were perennially in the top rankings in team offense in Class AAAA throughout his time at Roseville. Coach Ponsolle has helped countless players get into college at every level, most notably, Jesper Horsted (Princeton) and Dan Busch (Butler). He finished his tenure at Roseville in January of 2021.
Coach Ponsolle was a two time All Conference and an All-State Catcher at St. Bernard’s High School in St. Paul, MN. He moved on to play baseball at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, MN. He transferred in 2007 and finished his playing career at Friends University in Wichita, KS. Coach Ponsolle was a KCAC All-Conference third baseman in 2007. Coach Ponsolle and his Wife, Sami, currently live in Maplewood, MN with their son Charlie.
Social Media Director
Scott Sikich grew up in Apple Valley, MN where he attended Eastview High School and was a part of the baseball program. After high school, he attended the University of St. Thomas where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Communication and Journalism. At St. Thomas, Scott covered Tommie Athletic teams as a journalist for the school news program, while building up the live broadcasting program. After graduating, Scott began his professional career with Minnesota United FC as part of their TV broadcast crew, and quickly transitioned to a Video Production role with the team and helped the club explode onto the professional scene during their move to Major League Soccer.
Scott has also worked for the Minnesota Timberwolves and most recently Touchpoint Media, where he worked with a variety of clients with their creative needs and kick-started their company's social media presence. Scott also coaches high school basketball at Eastview during his free time.