By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Born into a baseball family, Matt Klimas made his mark as a catcher while at Broken Arrow.
Klimas is one of six Broken Arrow alums who will be inducted in a Hall of Fame ceremony on Sept. 3, at halftime of the Tigers’ football game against Union. The others are Ken Ellett, Shawn Jones, Chuck Perry, McKenzie (Adams) Mills and Dusty Dildine.
“It means everything to me,” Klimas said. “My brother was nine years older than me. When he took me to basketball games, I remember there used to be little plaques up against the wall and you kind of look at the Hall of Famers. Seeing all the greats on that wall, I hoped to have the opportunity to be on that wall one day.”
That older brother is Chris Klimas, who is now the head coach at Rogers State University in Claremore.
“I always thought it was cool going out with him and his friends, and going to Whataburger after the game and staying out past 9 o’clock at night when I was 6, 7 and 8 years old.”
Matt Klimas also has an older sister, Claudia Klimas-Paden, who is an assistant coach for the Broken Arrow softball team.
Their father is Phil Klimas, who played for the Tulsa Drillers in the early 1980s and eight seasons overall with minor league affiliates of the Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.
When in high school, the younger Klimas was a three-year letterman in baseball and football, having played catcher and wide receiver respectively. It was the diamond where he thrived the most. He was a two-time All-Conference selection and named All-State and All-Region.
After graduating from Broken Arrow in 2005, the younger Klimas was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 36th round. But instead he chose to play one year at Texarkana College, where he was named NJCAA All-Conference and All-Region. He was then drafted in the eighth round by the San Francisco Giants. Klimas never played for the actual team, but played for their farm clubs. He played two seasons in Scottsdale (Ariz.), two in August (Ga.), then had stints in Richmond (Va.) and San Jose (Calif.) in his final season in 2010.
After ending his career on the field, Klimas earned his degree from Breneau University in Gainesville, Ga. He coached at Thomas Jefferson Academy in Louisville, Ga., where he was Region Coach of the Year twice and led the program to a state championship in 2016.
Today, Klimas is settled in Augusta, a city he played in, married with three sons and has a career in sales.
Looking back on his time at Broken Arrow, he said it’s not about the wins and losses, but the relationships you build.
“I’m going into the Hall of Fame, which is awesome,” Klimas said. “But I feel like my teammates are who helped me get to where I am. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without them. I can’t tell you one particular game that stands out. It is just about the friendships and relationships you build. Those are a lifetime treat to have and I still keep in touch with a lot of my high school teammates. We’re still very best friends to this day. That’s what I’m most happy about being a Broken Arrow Tiger and being in that baseball program.”
The education and coaches are also beneficial to Klimas to this day.
“Shannon Dobson (BA head baseball coach) is one of my favorite guys that I ever played for,” Klimas said. “I still keep in touch with him.”
Other coaches Klimas mentions are Brian Frazier, the assistant coach in Klimas’ time at BA, along with Rick Jones and Dub Maddox (now offensive coordinator at Union), respectively the head and wide receiver coach for the football Tigers at that time.
“Those coaches had such an impact on me and who I am as a person today,” Klimas said. “I can’t thank them enough for taking the time to teach me life’s long goals, how to be an athlete and how to be a student-athlete.”