By STEVE KRAH
Attention to detail.
These are the building blocks of Doug Buysse’s South Bend Washington High School baseball program.
Entering his third season as Panthers head coach in 2017, Buysse wants his players to do things a certain way.
“We talk a lot about details and routines,” Buysse said. “Baseball is a very routine-oriented sport.
“We talk about how to wear pants, stirrups, how to wear the jersey right so it doesn’t come untucked. It’s all or nothing. We all have to look the same.”
On game days, Buysse insists that shoes are clean and old-school stirrups are worn just so.
When Washington takes the foul line for the National Anthem, the coach wants them to sport a uniform look.
“Not only does that give us a sense of community,” Buysse said. “It also says that if a team spends that much attention on the anthem then everything we do is important. How we conduct ourselves is important. That’s lost on kids today.”
Buysse took his team to a two-day tournament in central Indiana and when it was time to go for a meal, he saw his players come the lobby wearing sweatpants and flip flops.
“I said, ‘No!,’” Buysse said. “We’re representing Washington High School so you should look like someone who got dressed with a purpose. It’s not, I had 5 minutes so I just threw this on.”
Buysse posts a daily practice schedule so his players know that day’s drills and routine.
“Without the schedule, they’d lose their minds,” Buysse. “They need structure.”
Buysse grew up around the Washington program when his father, Jeff, was an assistant to Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Ric Tomaszewski. “T-6” insisted on doing things the right way.
A 2005 John Glenn High School graduate, Doug Buysse was a catcher for John Nadolny and helped the Falcons take four conference, three sectional and two regional titles. Glenn made two semistate appearances during that span with a State Finals appearance in 2002, Buysse’s sophomore season.
Buysse said he picked up his many of the routines he uses as a coach from his coach at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer — Rick O’Dette. Buysse hit .351 as a back-up catcher for the Pumas.
After his playing days at St. Joe, Buysse was on O’Dette’s staff for two seasons then was junior varsity and pitching coach at South Bend Riley High School for two seasons and JV coach at Glenn for one. His first season in charge at Washington was 2015.
Coming from a family of educators, Buysse was in the class room until a recent career change. But even though he is no longer in the school building during the day, he is able to log in and checks grades twice a week.
“If a kid’s struggling, I’ll highlight it and bring it to practice,” Buysse. “I say, ‘bring the grades up first and then we’ll worry about baseball.’”
The Panthers play in the traditionally strong Northern Indiana Conference.
“It’s become very, very competitive,” Buysse said. “There’s not a fluff game.
“We’re going to be young (this spring). We’re going to have a lot of sophomores and it’s going to be a learning curve for them.”
A new wrinkle for all Indiana high school teams is the new pitch-count rules, regulating the number of deliveries and dictating a certain amount of rest.
“The last two years, we’ve only had a couple kids approaching the (what is now the) limit,” Buysse said. “If a kid gets close to 75, we start looking to get somebody up in the bullpen.
“I’m not worried about it. It’s been my rule that if you threw 100 pitches, you’re not going to throw until next week anyway. I try to give them at least five days off.”
In the high school off-season, Buysse has served as an instructor at the South Bend Cubs Performance Center and has traveled throughout the Midwest to work at Silver Spikes, Top 96, and College Coaches Skills Camps.
South Bend Washington coach Doug Buysse