August 6, 2015
By Mike Killeen
Kyle Mrozek grew up in St. Anthony, Minnesota, and Larissa Omann in St. Stephen, Minnesota - about 20 minutes apart as the crow flies.
Despite living relatively near each other, the Saint John's University and College of Saint Benedict students did not meet until participating in a study abroad trip to South Africa in 2000.
"We jokingly say that we went halfway around the world to meet each other," Mrozek recalled.
They started dating seriously right at the end of their collegiate careers, in 2001. That's when former SJU President Fr. Robert Koopmann, OSB, who had led their trip to South Africa, looked into his crystal ball.
"On graduation day, he looked at Larissa's mom Sue and said, 'I'll see you at their wedding.' We had been dating for three weeks," Mrozek said. "You just kind of went, 'Really?'
"Four and a half years later, he (Koopmann) married us at the Abbey Church. This past winter, he actually baptized our daughter, Veronica, at the Abbey Church," Mrozek said. "Saint John's is a neat place for us to go back to, but with the wedding and the baptism, there's a little more meaning personally to us."
Mrozek, a 2001 graduate of SJU with a degree in management, has been a fixture at Franklin Rogers Park for 13 seasons, first for 10 years as the Mankato MoonDogs general manager, and the last three as vice president. The MoonDogs have made five playoff appearances in the last seven years, and he was named the league's "Executive of the Year" in 2009.
But Mrozek says life has changed since he and Larissa brought Veronica into the world.
"I think I've gotten smarter working more efficiently," Mrozek said of his daddy duties. "I think that's a bigger priority for me, absolutely. You want to be there. I want to be home, and I don't want to miss it."
Getting home to see Veronica and Larissa does conflict with Mrozek's hectic 15-hour days when the MoonDogs play at home. He said his staff has been willing to pick up hours so he can sneak home for a little while when Veronica comes home from day care.
"It's a change, and after doing this for 12 years (without a child), it takes a little while to get used to. But this needs to be the new normal. I absolutely want to be around her as much as I can," Mrozek said.
As vice president, Mrozek oversees "the entire operation, from our player recruitment side to hiring our coaches and helping our general manager run the business side of the operation and sales. He's also involved in many civic activities in Mankato.
"In a small office like this, when we have two, year-round full-time people, when I say we do everything, you really do every piece," he said.
Mrozek is also involved working with the city of Mankato related to improvements at "The Frank," as locals like to call the ballpark built in 1967. The MoonDogs are attempting to get the facility into the "top tier" of stadiums in the Northwoods League, he said.
"That is a brand new experience for me, working with city leadership and even at some point, the state level, and lobbying and going through the process," Mrozek said. "It's been fun. I enjoy new challenges. You talk about the job being so diverse in your responsibilities, it keeps it fresh and you learn a lot.
"This turned not to be a job for me - it turned out to be a career. It really did," Mrozek said. "I'm really thankful I have a job where I can invite my friends to come on down and watch me work and have a hamburger and a beer. Not too many people can say that."