By STEVE KRAH
Steven McNabb learned much about baseball while playing for and coaching with an Indiana High School Baseball Hall of Famer and he tries to bring that to his role as head coach at North Daviess Junior/Senior High School in Elnora, Ind.
McNabb was a catcher at Shakamak Junior/Senior High School, where he played his first three seasons for Hall of Famer Chip Sweet. The coach’s oldest son, Josh, is one of Steven’s best friends.
After competing for Matt Fougerousse in his senior year and reaching the IHSAA State Finals for the third time (2004, 2006, 2007), McNabb played one season at Oakland City (Ind.) University and one at Olney (Ill.) Central College before receiving his degree at Indiana State University and joining Sweet’s coaching staff as junior varsity coach (2010-14) in his second stint at Shakamak.
“He is definitely my mentor and role model,” says McNabb of Sweet. “A lot of my style is like what his was.
“I can’t say enough about what he meant to my playing career and my coaching career. I’m super close with his whole family.”
McNabb says Sweet was not a screamer and yeller, but demanded much of his players. He was a disciplinarian when he needed to be there with tough love.
“We was ultra-competitive and that oozed through,” says McNabb. “He treated everybody as part of the team, regardless of ability level.”
Fougerousse is now head coach at Linton-Stockton. He and McNabb talk frequently about diamond matters.
North Daviess (enrollment around 300) is a member of the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Bloomfield, Clay City, Eastern Greene, Linton-Stockton, North Central of Farmersburg, Shakamak and White River Valley).
The 2019 season was McNabb’s fifth in charge of the North Daviess program.
The Cougars are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Barr-Reeve, Loogootee, Shoals and Vincennes Rivet. North Daviess has won seven sectional crowns — the last in 2015. The Cougars were North Daviess Sectional runners-up to Barr-Reeve in 2019.
Being in such close proximity to one another, there is a fierce three-headed rivalry between North Daviess, Barr-Reeve and Loogootee.
“The community really takes off with it,” says McNabb.
His first ND team won the 2015 Loogootee Sectional. A senior on that squad — Logan Wagler — went on to play a season at Bethel College (now Bethel University).
The Class of 2019 had three players moving on to college baseball programs — Shom Berry to Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky., honorable mention all-stater Landon Mokris to Greenville (Ill.) University and Tyler Dunbar to Hanover (Ind.) College.
McNabb’s coaching staff in 2020 will include local minister Ashley Shurtz, former North Daviess and Oakland City University player Lucas Swartzentruber and North Daviess teacher John Mullen.
Matt Sims, McNabb’s cousin and a Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Athletic Hall of Famer (baseball), was the Cougars pitching coach the past five seasons. Mullen moves up from the junior high staff and takes over those duties.
Sims works at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, located less than 20 miles east of North Daviess.
For eight years, McNabb has been his school’s Project Lead The Way teacher, providing instruction in computer science, robotics, electronics and CAD 3D modeling, which helps prepare students for a career at Crane.
North Daviess plays baseball on Wayne Davis Field. The facility is part of a baseball/softball/tennis complex which was established in 2004. The baseball diamond is fairly large in dimension (330 feet down the lines and 380 to center).
An indoor hitting facility shared with softball helps the Cougars get better even when the weather does not cooperate.
Feeding the high school are the Frank Roberts Youth League in Odon and a junior high program. McNabb just had a call-out meeting for seventh and eighth graders that drew more than 20 players.
“Numbers at the (youth league) are always high,” says McNabb. “Baseball is something people get behind. I have a lot of support.
“It’s a great place to be.”
Steven and Amanda McNabb have been married nearly four years. They reside in Bloomington.
The 2015 IHSAA sectional baseball champions from North Daviess High School.
North Daviess High School head baseball coach Steven McNabb stands with Class 1A honorable mention all-staters Shom Berry (left) and Brandon Craven (right).
Steven McNabb (left) and Caleb Wagler share a moment on North Daviess High School’s Wayne Davis Field.
Steven McNabb, a graduate of Shakamak High School and Indiana State University, enters his sixth season as head baseball coach at North Daviess High School in Elnora, Ind., in 2020.