By STEVE KRAH
Walter Lehmann developed a philosophy about baseball as a player and it has followed him into coaching.
Effort does not have to take a day off.
“I’d rather have a kid that is going to give that max effort all the time than the kid next to him who may be a little bit more talented,” says Lehmann, who was recently hired as head baseball coach at Concord High School. “When I was a player, I never hit the ball the best or was the fastest or had the best arm.”
Lehmann had his competitive fire stoked while playing at Marian for former Notre Dame player Tim Prister.
“He taught you confidence in yourself and your team,” says Lehmann, who knew Prister beginning in first grade thanks to being a youth sports teammate of Tim’s son, Eric. “(Tim taught us about) being mentally and physically tough. If you have that physical edge, it brings that mental edge.”
Lehmann, who went to St. Jude Catholic School in South Bend for grades K-8, learned which teammates he could trust based on how they responded during grueling workouts.
Who’s going to show up on time?
Who’s going to put in that extra effort?
Who’s going lead the pack?
Those shared experiences can built chemistry, which comes in hand with the team down a run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Lehmann picked up more passion and baseball knowledge at Bethel from head coach Seth Zartman and assistants Dick Siler and Javier Jimenez.
“(Siler) cared about us as people and not just as baseball players,” says Lehmann of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer. “The same is true with Coach Zartman. His biggest concern was what life was going to be for us after baseball.
“(Jimenez) had a passion for the game and was there for you each day.”
Lehmann went into business for a few years while coaching baseball at Marian and in the summer with the South Bend Silver Hawks/South Bend Cubs Youth Baseball Club teams and officiating hockey in the winter (he played two high school seasons in that sport).
He also decided to enter Bethel’s transition-to-teaching program. After a year at Mishawaka Catholic School, Lehmann now leads social studies students at Concord High School.
“I’ve been excited to come into work each day,” says Lehmann, who turns 29 in September.
The coach is also emphasize his message of extra effort and essential skills to the Minutemen.
“I want to make sure we do the fundamentals well,” says Lehmann. “A lot of teams try to do too much and they don’t execute the basics well.
“You can win a lot of high school baseball games by throwing strikes, (correctly) running the bases and playing defense. If we lose a game, I want it to be because we got beat and not because we gave them the win. If our pitchers are throwing strikes and they beat us, it happens.”
One of Lehmann’s favorite practice drills is called “21 Outs” and involves a coach with a fungo bat and a defense trying to record all the outs without an error.
“We want to have that defensive mentality,” says Lehmann. “We’re not giving more than 21 outs. This is what they get.”
Lehmann follows Eric Nielsen, who resigned to go into private business. The new coach is in the process of assembling his assistants for 2017-18.
Walter Lehmann, a graduate of Mishawaka Marian High School and Bethel College, is now head baseball coach at Concord High School. (Concord High School Photo)