Youth Baseball: Coaching from across the pond

Youth baseball coach in the summer, teacher overseas during the school year. Craig Karnitz talks about life as an overseas teacher, which his wife Beth also does and coaching his son's baseball in the lakes area in the summer.

Father and son playing catch
Franklin Karnitz, left, plays catch with his dad, Craig Karnitz, at the Central Lakes College baseball field Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Craig Karnitz says he’s just an 8-year-old baseball coach volunteering.

Which in the summer times might be true.

What the 47-year-old leaves out is that he and his wife, Beth, teach overseas during the school year.

After budget cuts cost both Craig and Beth their jobs in 2005, the two jumped at an opportunity to teach in Singapore. Most recently, they finished up teaching the school year in Hong Kong.

“We’ve been teaching overseas since 2005,” Craig Karnitz said. “We both used to teach over at Nisswa when we started our careers, then we ended up moving to Singapore, then we went to Japan, then Doha, Qatar and now we are in Hong Kong.”


Craig is a physical education teacher and Beth teaches fifth grade.

“All our students usually go to university somewhere,” Craig Karnitz said. “The majority of our students head to college in the U.S. and the population we serve are generally U.S. passport holders and want their kids to go to U.S. colleges.”

Craig said his interest in teaching overseas came from people he knew that had done it.

“I knew of the experience and I knew there was that opportunity,” Craig Karnitz said. “To be honest, we didn’t really think about it until the spring of 2005 when we got cut and my position got cut and my wife was pink slipped, so we had an opportunity to teach in Singapore and we took it and never looked back.”

When the school year is finished they fly back and spend their summers in the lakes area where Beth, a 1995 Brainerd graduate, lived and grew up.

“We love coming back here,” Craig Karnitz said. “It’s home. It’s been my home since 2001 and my wife’s home since 1977 and there is not another place we would want to come to in the summer.”

Craig grew up in Arden Hills, which is a northern suburb of St. Paul. Craig and Beth met in college at Gustavus Adolphus.

Now, Craig can be seen coaching his son’s, Franklin, team in the Brainerd/Baxter park and rec program in the major leaguers youth baseball league of 7 and 8 year olds.


“I teach PE so I love sports and it makes sense that I coach,” Karnitz said.

Karnitz said he can handle coaching little league baseball. He played football growing up and has even coached football in his teaching stops in Singapore and Japan.

“It’s interesting,” Karnitz said of coaching football in different countries. “It’s usually at a lower level. In Singapore, it was a club sport and you are really coaching on the fly and teaching between 11-man and nine-man football. In Japan, it was much more normal like high school football. We had a conference and at the school I was at we would play mostly against high schools from military bases in Japan.”

Brainerd Community Education Parks and Rec coordinator Joe Pohlkamp is grateful Karnitz spends his summers in the lakes area to coach little league.

“We are very fortunate in this area to have a guy, who teaches from another country, to coach our kids,” Pohlkamp said. “He does a phenomenal job, too. He teaches them the fundamentals and he cares about the kids. To have that connection with Brainerd and to work with kids is just amazing.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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