By STEVE KRAH
“I thought I was going to be Terry Gobert Jr. and be a teacher and coach,” says Nick Gobert of his father, a long-time JHS educator and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer with more than 800 career victories, five state titles (1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2006) and three state runner-up finishes (2013, 2015 and 2017). “I’ve always wanted to be a coach, seeing the relationships and how much guys can grow and develop.”
Nick was a two-time team MVP and Most Valuable Pitcher as well as the L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award winner at the 2013 State Finals.
During his high school days, Jasper went 113-18 with three sectional crowns, two regional titles and two semistate championships. He was on the IHSBCA South All-Star squad in 2013. He was honorable mention all-state in 2012 (pitcher) and 2013 (second baseman).
Nick describes his prep days as “the worst/best four years of my life in terms of baseball.”
The baseball bar is set very high for the Jasper Wildcats.
“I was supposed to win four state championships in four years,” says Nick. “That was my mentality.
“I didn’t get special treatment.”
His junior year, he spent three periods during the school day with his father plus all the time on the baseball field. There were tense moments, but a lot of very good memories.
“I’m glad everything happened the way it did,” says Nick.
Terry and Caroline Gobert had five children. Sarah died of leukemia as a toddler. Maria just graduated from Indiana University in three years. Laura will graduate from Jasper this year and head to the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. Julia is in the Jasper Class of 2021.
Nick is the lone Gobert offspring currently pursuing coaching. Along the way, he got a taste for working with older players and recruiting and adjusted his vision to the college game and pursue it while he’s still young.
“I haven’t regretted it so far,” says Gobert.
In July 2019, he was hired as an assistant at Indian Hills Community College. The National Junior College Athletic Association Division I member has campuses in two Iowa towns — Centerville (where baseball is based) and Ottumwa. Centerville has a population under 6,000.
“I’ve been social distancing since I moved to Iowa,” says Gobert.
The coach who turns 26 on May 27 serves on a staff led by Matthew Torrez and coaches third base, helps with recruiting and instruction of infielders, outfielders and hitters and a little bit with pitchers.
Torrez played for Tracy Archuleta at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
After graduating from Jasper in 2013, Gobert played for Tony Vittorio at the University of Dayton in 2014 and 2015.
A torn labrum in 2016 ended his season and he was given a medical redshirt. He transferred to the Southern Indiana, where he played two seasons for Archuleta (2017 and 2018), earning honorable mention NCAA Division II All-American and first-team all-region and first-team all-conference selection in 2018 after batting .357., and served as graduate assistant in 2019. He is working toward as master’s degree in Sport Management.
He played two summers (2014 and 2015) and helped coach one (2016) for the Dubois County Bombers with Andy Lasher, who was a USI assistant and recently became head coach at Oakland City (Ind.) University as manager.
Gobert chose Dayton, which went to an NCAA D-I regional in 2012, and Vittorio for the coach’s blue-collar approach.
“He was very tough-minded and very organized,” says Gobert. “He embraced being a mid-major college. He had a lot of passion for the game.
He was a fiery individual.”
When it came time to travel, Gobert knew the winning tradition at USI led by Archuleta.
“I knew a lot of guys who played for him and spoke highly of him,” says Gobert of the man who brought NCAA Division I national crowns to Southern Indiana in 2010 and 2014. “He had high expectations. Our end goal was being in Cary, N.C. and winning a national title.
“He was concerned for our well-being with tough love. He was easy to play for and he helped me grow and develop and also pursue my passion for coaching.”
In Torrez, Gobert sees a combination of Vittorio and Archuleta.
“He coaches with a lot of energy and likes to put the time in,” says Gobert. “In junior college, you get a lot of hands-on time (more than at NCAA or NAIA schools).
“I’ve learned a ton about the game from him, especially about pitching. I pick his brain quite a bit when it comes to his philosophies.”
Gobert says he and Torrez bring new school and old school together.
“I’ve got old-school roots,” says Gobert. “I’m old school in how we conduct our business.”
The new school comes into play with the use of biomechanics, kinesiology and technology.
“We bounce ideas off each other,” says Gobert.
Indian Hills played around 20 games in the fall of 2019. The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 spring season to be shut down after 15 contests. The Falcons never got to play a home game. A March 13 date at Des Moines Area Community College, where Indiana native Nic Mishler is head coach, ended up being the finale.
Since the shutdown, Indian Hills has been conducting classes online (the last day is Monday, May 11) and coaches have been helping a 2020 roster that includes out-of-state players from California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin as well international talent from Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela.
Gobert says Indian Hills is also hoping to build the brand by attracting more local players.
“We have a contact we go through,” says Gobert. “It’s much easier to communicate these days.
“We get hundreds of emails a week. People looking for a place to play.”
There are about three dozen players in the program right now. There could be as many as 50 in the fall.
Gobert says five are expected to come back for a third year (a measure allowed by the NJCAA because of COVID-19).
Some players are feeling out offers from four-year schools and deciding if they want to come or not.
It’s not just the 2020 class that has been granted an extra year, but so has 2021, 2022 and 2013.
“What a lot of people don’t understand how good this is going to be for junior college baseball,” says Gobert. “This is going to be an ongoing thing for three — maybe — four years.
“Depth will get even better and it will be more competitive than it is now.”
Gobert’s day-to-day routine has only changed in that he can’t visit or see players off-campus or have them visit the Indian Hills campus.
But he can still make calls, watch videos, do office work and maintain the baseball field.
And some day, he will again be able to build those relationships in-person.
Nick Gobert (left) and father Terry helped Jasper (Ind.) High School win 113 games in Nick’s four seasons playing for the Wildcats (2010-13). Nick is now an assistant coach at Indiana Hills Community College in Iowa. Terry, an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, has more than 800 wins, five state titles and three runner-up finishes as Jasper head coach. (Dubois County Herald Photo)
Nick Gobert, a graduate of Jasper (Ind.) High School and the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, played two baseball seasons at USI and served as a graduate assistant. He is now an assistant at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)
Nick Gobert, a graduate of Jasper (Ind.) High School and the University of Southern Indiana, is an assistant baseball coach at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. (Indian Hills Community College Photo)