Baseball Dreams

Renee Nolte needs a few more hours in the day.

The 47-year-old Nolte is a martial arts expert and teacher, an author, a grandmother, a baseball enthusiast, a radio personality, a fitness guru, a licensed bodyguard and firearms instructor, a self-professed “foodie” ... the list goes on and on.

She owns and operates University of Sidekicks in College Station, and she and husband Michael Hodnett, a physician who is also a distinguished artist and sculptor, are in the process of opening the Michael Hodnett Art Gallery in downtown Brenham.

Brenham still holds a special place for Nolte. She operated a martial arts academy here for eight years beginning in 1999, and she also taught classes at Blinn College’s Heinecke Gym and in public schools during that time.

Last Saturday, she held a book signing at Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Library for her “Baseball Dream.”

“Baseball Dream,” which came out at the end of 2018, is her second book. She also published “Great Purple Grapes” in 2005, and her “Super Love” came out only a few days ago.

Nolte is as passionate about writing as she is about her martial arts career.

She has religiously kept a journal since age 6, encouraged by her police officer father. Nolte now has stacks of them.

“My dad bought all of his kids a journal and said, ‘I just want you to write down your thoughts and your day,’” she said. “I have little illustrations in there and things about my day and my feelings and what not.

“As a business owner and as a traveler and someone that participates actively in workshops, seminars and organizations, wherever I go, I write down every word that somebody has to say. I want to be able to go back and use it and apply it, learn from it, glean what I can from it.”

Nolte described her writing as almost going into “a dream state.”

“And I’ll just write something like a movie script or a poem or a little short story,” she said. “I was a single mom for 17 years, and one of the things I really enjoyed doing with my kids when they were younger was reading to them and us creating stories.

“Some of the books I’ve written, I wrote years ago. I’ve just never been able to sit myself down and work on the publishing part of the book.”

Nolte said that even with her hectic schedule, she sets aside one day a week to her writing.

“Whether it’s marketing, advertising, writing, publishing, it’s just my entire focus,” she said. “It’s exciting to be able to do that, to apply the things that i really enjoy doing. I just love to be able to share my talent and my passion. And a lot of the things I write are very principle-centered.

“I’m old school. I like to put the pen on the paper, not sit at the computer and type.”

Nolte called her “Baseball Dream” “a baseball fan book.”

“It shares every joy about baseball, from the moment you look at the stadium until you enter it, until you smell the smells. The fans around you watching your game, your favorite players, the joy, the enthusiasm,” she said. “It’s a very interactive book, and you’re asked to answer questions. And the reader gets to tell about their fond memories of baseball.

“I grew up going to baseball games at the Astrodome, listening to Jose Cruz’s name being yelled out, Nolan Ryan ... Whether I was a little kid running in between the seats and eating pretzels or getting popcorn, just being there and watching everyone’s enthusiasm for baseball, I just really loved that experience.”

Watching her 2-year-old grandson’s unbridled enthusiasm for the game prompted her to write “Baseball Dream.”

“He loves baseball,” said Nolte. “He’s obsessed with it. Just watching from a 2-year-old’s perspective, his joy, it totally reminded me how much I love the game. And I just had to sit down, take a breath, close my eyes. And I began to wrote about everything I love about baseball. And I put it all together in less than 30 minutes.”

One of the highlights of her life came several years ago when she got to throw out the first pitch at a Corpus Christi Hooks baseball game.

“If I had to write down the top five things in my life so far, that would be one of them,” Nolte said. “That was just so thrilling to me.”

It was also a thrill to hold a book signing in Brenham, the “Baseball Capitol of Texas.”

“Baseball Dream” is available at Blue Bell Creameries’ Country Store (Blue Bell houses a baseball museum), the Book Nook and Barnhill House here. A copy is also in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

“Super Love,” which came out last week, is “an expression of just how powerful love and family are, pretty much told in a child’s perspective,” said Nolte. One passage in the book reads, “So of all the things that matter the most, love is the greatest from coast to coast. Love is the greatest, the king of them all. Love makes my heart sing and I feel so tall.”

“Great Purple Grapes” was written in the style of the Dr. Seuss books and is a tribute to Nolte’s love of food. The book includes an astronaut who Nolte said was inspired by Selena Chancellor, a real-life astronaut who took one of her martial arts classes.

Martial arts is another of Nolte’s great passions, along with a desire to teach people how to take care of themselves.

“Both of my parents are police officers,” she said. “So we were raised in a home where vigilance was always taught,” she said. “We learned at an early age the difference in people, between the sheep of the world, the sheepdogs and the wolves.

“We grew up with a sheepdog mentality to protect the sheep and confront the wolf. At an early age, I learned a keen sense of justice, a sense of awareness that what’s black is black and what’s white is white, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.”

Nolte, a Galveston native, said that she was about 8 when her dad took her to work and being curious, she opened a book of pictures on his desk. What she saw changed her life.

“I saw all these snapshots of children that were being abused,” she said. “It was a case they were working on. I don’t know how long I was staring at the pictures. But I realized that there are people that just don’t know what to do.

“My dad came back into the room, and he picked me up. I didn’t even realize that I was crying. I was just so heartbroken. I grew up in a very loving home and that could happen to people?

“But I knew at that moment in my life that I wanted to be somebody that can help people help themselves.”

Nolte has studied martial arts since she was 7, pushing herself to learn new techniques.

“My dad enrolled all of us kids at an early age in martial arts. I’m the kid who never quit,” she said. “I have been training in martial arts for 34 years.”

She has black belts in a number of martial arts disciplines and has taught self-defense to law enforcement officers and the military, along with the public.

Nolte’s career has included training actors, working in personal security and even extracting a victim of sex trafficking.

But her number one goal is helping others.

“I really have a desire to help people to learn some skillsets that maybe they’ll never ever need,” said Nolte. “But if they do, they have it. I would sure hate that if they had to have it, they wouldn’t know what to do.”

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