BANGOR – Between taking ground balls at second and peppering pitches during batting practice, former Bangor baseball player, Kevin Cokgormusler, was just one of the boys.
“They teach me a lot of slang, one of the big things you know they teach me something about the culture because you know some stuff is really different than what we do,” Cokgormusler said.
“He’s just understood sarcasm, so it’s been better so that’s a big thing that he’s picked up on,” Bangor baseball player, James Neel, said.
For two years, Cokgormusler poured his heart into the game, but rarely saw the field. So why keep playing?
“Picking up a baseball bat like first time in my life it was challenging, but I’m not backing down from a challenge I never did in my entire life,” Cokgormusler said.
“The first time he came in we let him know exactly how things are going to be and his comment was which I will always share with a lot of teams is ‘I want to be a part of something great,'” Bangor baseball head coach, Dave Morris, said. “He made it tough for us to cut him, we’re gad he’s part of our program,” Morris added.
Bangor baseball is just a piece of Kevin’s lifelong journey that started in Izmir, Turkey.
“It was warm all the time, we got snow once in 15 years and it was like this much,” Cokgormusler said.
Kevin spent the first 15 years of his life gazing at the Mediterranean, the salt water quenching his thirst for adventure.
“We would talk about stories on the sea, we would talk about stories about waves,” Cokgormusler said.
Kevin’s dad, Numan, is a merchant marine captain, his mother is retired from the Turkish Air Force.
“He’s not going to be there like that, he’s not going to jump on the highway and be there in 40 minutes, he’s other side of the globe,” Kevin said about his father.
“Being away from you’re family, from your dearest, so hard but when you have some target to go or some goal to achieve you would find a way to manage those feelings even if it’s so hard,” Numan said.
Numan’s career is a collage with each trip adding a piece to the canvas, including a trip to Maine.
“In year 2000, I had a chance to be at Maine Maritime as a visiting faculty we had great time over there we had many friends,” Numan said.
Numan fell in love with Castine and started planting seeds.
“We met and we kind of liked each other and we shed some shared experiences,” Maine Maritime professor, Sam Teel, said.
Teel met Cokgorumusler on the voyage two decades ago, the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
“I kind of remember the day he sent me a note or something and said oh by the way we’re having a baby and that was Kevin,” Teel said.
After the voyage, Numan knew Maine Maritime was where is future son would land because of the bonds he formed.
“Wonderful to know if you belong to a community who will care each other without any doubt it’s wonderful feeling,” Numan said.
Kevin dedicated himself to crossing the Atlantic, his parents eventually circling Bangor where he graduated from Bangor High School in 2019 and then enrolled at Maine Maritime Academy.
“I’m going to stick with it for four more years and hopefully become a captain,” Kevin said.
Home is MMA, his first big step, MUG graduation, a ceremony celebrating Kevin’s first step to becoming a captain. It was a day Kevin and Numan were able to share together.
“You can’t describe how important because of the feeling inside of your heart,” Numan said.
Basking in the Mediterranean sun, bringing home a gold glove, paddling in Castine Bay, alone or with loved ones, every experience has molded Kevin.
“He saw what he can accomplish and I’m proud of him,” Kevin’s mother, Fulya, said.
Kevin has wrapped up his first year at Maine Maritime and finished his second semester with a 3.49 GPA.