Our child brought me back to my career goal.

This week I took a huge step to achieving of of my goals. I’m 41, this is a goal I had as a young child. A goal that I really didn’t think I would accomplish, that all changed in 2016, just 4 years ago.

In most every other blog post I talk about our children, especially our youngest child, Malix. Hence the name of this blog. We often make the mistake of associating having children with goals in life shifting. Maybe we wanted to travel the world… then you had kids and your only world travel is now your Taco Bell. (I love Taco Bell for the record). Maybe you wanted to focus on your corporate career, then you met the person of your dreams and wanted to spend nights / weekend with them instead of working late in the office. Basically you had career goals, then something important or “life changing” happens, so your career goals dissolve.

My career goal is similar, but turned out very different.

As a young child, I wanted to be one of two things. 1) Professional Baseball Player 2) Own a Baseball Card Shop. Let’s be honest, #1, went out the window when a curve ball came into play. Entering High School, my career goal changed, I wanted to work for Major League Baseball Club. I didn’t sit back, dream it would happen, I wanted to know the path, what I needed to do and then make it happen.

Kulczewski Family Christmas Letter when I was 10 years old.

I grew up the Monmouth, Illinois. Population 10,000, home of Monmouth College and birthplace of Wyatt Earp. It’s truly a fine place to live. I graduated High School in 1997, public school, surrounded by Corn Fields. My graduating class was under 40. I always told people I was “Top 10” in my HS class 🙂

Working on my goal of a professional baseball player!

After High School, I started at Illinois State University. The spring semester of my Freshman Year, I sent out letters to every Major League and Minor League Baseball Team in the Midwest. If I was going to work for a MLB team, I better get going! This was before days of social media and e-mail, good old fashion letter it was!

I ended up getting an unpaid Internship In Appleton, Wisconsin with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Class A Midwest League. It was an amazing summer, I worked at a baseball stadium! What could get better. I moved into a basement of another intern and lived like a king on Ballpark Hot Dogs.

My baseball adventures the following 2 summers were great: Summer 1999: Intern Butte Copper Kings; Butte, Montana. Summer 2000: Grounds Crew Wisconsin Timber Rattlers; Appleton, Wisconsin.

I graduated from College in May of 2001 with a Business Degree in Marketing and Economics. I just wanted to work in Baseball, nothing else. No interest in having a family of my own, just baseball. That summer I returned to Appleton to work for the Timber Rattles Grounds Crew. June 11, 2001 I suffered a traumatic accident to my left ankle. Long story short, I cut off my left ankle, all accept the Achilles Tendon. My foot was literally hanging by the tendon. 4 months later I could walk again. Onward in my baseball career. I moved to Phoenix, AZ and worked the the next 14 months for the Oakland Athletics at their Spring Training Facility on the Grounds Crew.

In the fall of 2002, I returned to Appleton, WI for my first “real full time job” with the Timber Rattlers. I was Director of Operations for the next 4.5 years.

During this time I meet Michelle, we started dating and she is fantastic. Before meeting her I never thought I would get married or have a family. I worked at a Baseball Stadium, my life was “complete.”

December of 2006 into the spring of 2007, I interviewed for a job with a Major League Baseball Club. I didn’t get the job, but came very close. In discussions with Club Officials after the process, they were nothing but gracious and positive. The biggest take away is that I needed more experience at a bigger stadium. Shortly after that interview process, Michelle and I moved to Allentown, PA when I got a job with the new AAA Baseball Clue, the LeHigh Valley IronPigs. They were in the middle of building a new stadium. I had the opportunity of a lifetime that would surely land me a job with a Major League Baseball Club.

It just so happens, during this transition to PA, Michelle and I got engaged and married. It is now April of 2007, I work all the time, my wife is wonderful and she is now pregnant. Oh, that will change goals in a hurry. My goal quickly shifted from working for a MLB team to being a husband and now father!

We moved back to Appleton the summer of 2007 where I got a job as Manager of Buildings and Grounds for the Menasha Joint School District. I spent the next 12 years working for public school districts in similar roles.

Fast forward to 2016. We have a nice house and a great job in Fort Atkinson, WI. We are expecting our fourth child. We find out our baby will be born with a major heart defect and likely have Down Syndrome. I encourage you to read previous entries for some more details, this entry is really focusing on my career goals. Malix is coming, my wife needs to take a leave from her job to care for him due to his needs. We are short on money to pay our monthly expenses, I start selling baseball cards online to provide for my family…..

In 2016 I met my business partner online through baseball card buy / sell / trade sites. Ryan Holland in Minnesota. This adventure in Baseball Cards would not be successful without his friendship and business relationship.

Just like that, Malix isn’t even born, but he just turned me into a career path for one of my goals as a child. Goal #2) Own a Baseball Card Shop. I started an official company, (easy to do) and now started selling baseball cards online. I guess you could say I had a virtual shop, at least my basement was looking like a shop.

In 2018, I left working in schools to focus my career solely on selling baseball cards online. In 2019 we moved into our “forever home” in Brownville, WI. (side note, in these adventures this is our 3rd “forever homes” but this truly is our last). I had this baseball card business rocking out of the basement.

2019 into 2020 things got busier and busier for the business. Then covid hit, things got crazy busy for the business and hasn’t slowed down since. Now I have an awesome crew that comes to my house daily to sort and ship baseball cards all over the world, but this needs to move out of the house. It’s growing beyond this home.

So, this week I did it. I purchased a building in Waupun, WI (15 minutes from our home). This building is in the Downtown Historic section of town and I’m in love with it.

324 E. Main St, Waupun, WI. Future home of Real Sportscards, Wiscosnin.

The first phase is to remodel the upstairs level (2,600 sq ft) and make it e-commerce center to ship baseball cards in a first class manner with a sleek historic urban feel. I’ve hired an architect to insure it’s done in a top notch manner.

Stage 2 is to have a baseball card shop on the street level. I have no timeline for stage 2, but I’m excited when it will happen. I know it will happen and I know it will be amazing.

Just like that, Childhood Career Goal is going to be accomplished. Why did I get to achieve my Childhood Goal? Supportive parents, great siblings, great education, AMAZING wife, great kids, awesome fellow collectors in our community at Real Breaks, great friend and business partner in Ryan, the great crew of sorters / shippers that work with me, but the turning point was having Malix. Our little guy didn’t take anything away from our family or my career. He completed our family and pushed me to follow my Childhood Goal. I truly believe we are blessed to have Malix and all of our children. Without this family, I would never get to do what I wanted to do my entire life! They didn’t take me away from my goal, they brought me back.

I’m so excited to share the amazing adventures in months / years to come!

Adventures in life are always better shared with your family! Pictured back row L to R. Kyler Murray, Nick Bosa, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Will Grier.

4 thoughts on “Our child brought me back to my career goal.

  1. I am so very happy for you and your family! I can hardly wait to get to Waupun to see your next adventure!
    I love reading your story, Tom.

    Like

  2. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME i LOVE YOUR STORY AND THE ADVENTURES GOD HAS TAKEN YOU ON. mANY BLESSINGS IN YOUR NEW PLACE. E
    NJOY AND HAVE FUN WITH IT ALL

    Like

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