MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A.J. Pettersen is where he wants to be — in a dugout, making baseball decisions as head coach at Chanhassen High School.

“I love the ability to have a positive impact on kids. I had, you know, several coaches throughout my career that kind of changed the course of my life and how I see things,” A.J. said. “Baseball’s a game that’s really emotional and passionate.”

A.J. Pettersen (credit: CBS)

A.J. Pettersen (credit: CBS)

He understands this game. Undersized, he made it to the Gophers and proved to the baseball world he could be a player.

“It was hard. As a recruit, you know, all those coaches are looking for the guys that are huge and throw and run and hit the ball far. And the U of M, they’ve told me this over and over, that they had to recruit me for, you know, 30, 40 games before they decided that I was a guy that they could have at that level,” he said.

His own team responded last season by winning a state title. A.J.’s theory is born out of his size; you have to be aggressive all the time in baseball, and in life.

“It’s teaching these kids that skill. Like, having confidence in life is so important that they could walk in to, you know, a job interview or in to a college test and they’re like, ‘I’m the guy, I can do this,'” A.J. said. “That’s a skill I’m trying to teach them.”

Emily Pettersen (credit: CBS)

Emily Pettersen (credit: CBS)

And that is what he will teach his new addition. A.J. and wife, Emily, welcomed a new son three and half months ago.

“A lot less sleep, a lot more smiles, a lot more fun,” Emily said.

And A.J. may believe that it is never too soon to teach those baseball fundamentals.

“I literally went in there one day and [A.J.} had like the Little Tykes plastic baseball thing out, and he was trying to have him hold the ball,” Emily said. “He couldn’t even hold a toy yet, but he’s trying.”

But A.J.’s son has changed his game for the better.

“He smiles and he googles and, you know, makes funny noises and stuff,” A.J. said. “It’s fun to see all of that. It’s fun to see my wife be an awesome mother to him. Just learning stuff about ourselves so much through this sort of journey we’re on.”

Some day his son may play for the Gophers, and that is what dad would love, because dad loves this game and all that goes with a baseball program.

“It’s fun to see kids come back from college and, you know, want to hang out,” he said. “We had like eight kids at our game yesterday. Even they came on the field afterwards and chatted about how they’re doing. That’s really why I like to do it.”

Mike Max