March 12th, 1979 – December 10th, 2000
A.J. Cohen's untimely passing occurred as a result of a house fire in the early morning hours of December 10th, 2000. A.J. was a baseball fanatic who started swinging a bat shortly after birth. He was a lefty who never possessed a lot of power on the mound but could definitely be described as the "crafty lefthander". He also played 1st base and made headlines in the Cincinnati Enquirer for a pivotal diving catch he made in the state final. In 1995, A.J. led The Summit Country Day Silver Knights to its first Ohio State Baseball Championship. His love for baseball and the impact he made on his family and friends inspired many to develop A.J. Cohen Memorial, Inc. in his rememberance.
The Cohen family was raised on the "West Side". A large family, A.J. shared his home with 4 other siblings including Barrett, Dustin, Matthew, and Miya. A.J.'s father Kim is a retired Cincinnati Police Officer and his mother Donna was a homemaker.
While A.J. attended grade school at St. James in White Oak, he played football, baseball and basketball. He was widely known as a "can't miss" 5 star athlete. He decided to follow in his older brother Dustin's footsteps by attending The Summit Country Day School in Hyde Park. At Summit, played football, baseball and basketball earning honors in all three sports. As his senior year approached, A.J. had a strong desire to become a member of the United States Air Force Academy. After years of hard work and dedication to his school and community, he was recommended as a candidate for the United States Air Force Academy. In 1997, he headed to Colorado Springs to follow his dream. While at the Academy, he realized the impact of his close-knit family and missed the Cincinnati area. He made the tough decision to request his release from the Academy and head back east to be closer to his family and friends but still maintained his dream to be a pilot some day.
After returning to the Midwest, A.J. enrolled at the University of Dayton where he played football under the auspicious of Coach Mike Kelly. A.J. made his mark immediately, by sharing his smile on and off the football field. Even when he died on December 10th, 2000, all coaches and players alike remember that effervescent smile that gleamed every minute he was around. Some have said A.J. was only sent to Colorado to spread his smile to those who needed a little cheering up. Coach Kelly has said years after A.J.'s death, his name was still being mentioned weekly in their offices. His job was to make people smile, so although God has decided to bring him home, we know a little part of A.J. is still here with us.
By: Joe Molony
As the former Head Baseball Coach of Summit Country Day from 1996-1999, I feel very honored to write a few words on the high school baseball career of A.J. As a sophomore, A.J. was part of the 1995 State Championship Team. As a team, the Knights finished with a 23-3 record, while winning the League, Sectional, District, Regional and State Championship. In the State Semi-final game, A.J. ignited our 11 run inning with a double that scored a teammate from second and then A.J. later scored the tying run. I believe the 11 run inning in a State Championship, still stands as a state record for Division IV. A.J. finished his sophomore season with a 3-1 record on the mound, a 3.14 era, and a .362 batting average.
The 1996 Knights picked-up right where the ’95 team left-off. The team finished with a Sectional, District, and Regional Championship and A.J. was an integral part of the Silver Knight’s success. The team finally lost in the State Semifinals to eventual State Champ Columbus Bishop Hartley and ended the season with a 17-6 record. My fondest memory of A.J. occurred in the Regional Championship where he pitched the last 5 innings of one hit baseball to defeat archrival C.C.D. 14-5. A.J. finished his junior season with a 5-2 record on the mound and a .350 batting average.
The 1997 season was a wonderful season for both A.J. and the Silver Knights. The team finished the season with a 22-1 record and its second straight league title, along with its 3rd straight Sectional and District Championship. Although the season ended with a disappointing loss in the Regional Semifinals nothing can take away from A.J.’s great year. On the mound, A.J. finished the year with an incredible 11-1 record with a 1.38. At the plate, A.J. hit .470 with 39 hits, and 32 r.b.i.’s. In the Sectional finals, A.J. pitched 6 innings of 1 run baseball and the win vs. C.H.C.A. All of A.J.’s hard work and individual statistics culminated in his selection as a Div. II, III, IV Cincinnati Enquirer All-Star.
I believe A.J. had one of the greatest high school baseball careers at the Summit Country Day School, but what stands out the most to me was not that A.J. played on great teams; it was that A.J. was a GREAT TEAMMATE. He always arrived at practice with a smile on his face, ready to work hard, with a contagious disposition. As a coach, I couldn’t ask for anything else from a player. A.J. was a young man, who loved baseball and approached life like he did baseball, with a free spirit and a relentless determination. When my thoughts turn to A.J., which they often do, I always think of the good times and it doesn’t take long for a smile to come across my face. He is sorely missed.