By STEVE KRAH
New Jimtown High School head baseball coach Cory Stoner wants his Jimmies to reach for “The Gold Standard” during the 2018-19 school year.
“We’re not going to settle for ‘good enough,” says Stoner, who has been with the Jimtown junior varsity the past five springs. “We want to push ourselves and get back to competing for sectional and conference championships.
“There is a goldmine of talent here. We’ve just got to mine that gold a little bit.”
Stoner, who graduated from Mishawaka (Ind.) High School in 2009 and Bethel College in Mishawaka in 2013, began teaching U.S. History (Explorers to Civil War) at Jimtown Junior High School in Elkhart, Ind., and joined the Mike Campbell-led football coaching staff (Stoner is defensive coordinator for the Jimmies) in 2013-14.
He believes in the multi-sport athlete.
“Doing other things makes them better baseball players, too,” says Stoner. “It makes them better athletes all-around.”
For athletes not in a fall sport, Stoner just held a session to help some Jimtown baseball players get better. There was even a fall athlete who came to get in some extra work.
John Huemmer was Stoner’s head coach at Mishawaka High and has made an impact on his life.
“What a great role model,” says Stoner of Huemmer. “I remember how hard he worked for me. You could tell he was working for the kids.
“He worked so hard to get me into Bethel and improve my skills and talents. I really appreciated him as a role model and a figure and, hopefully, I can do that here at Jimtown.”
At Bethel, head coach Seth Zartman displayed a contagious zeal.
“He had a passion for the game,” says Stoner, who played all over the infield and some in the outfield for the Pilots. “Playing high school and college baseball are two different things and you find out quickly if you have a passion for the game. He brought that everyday.
“I really appreciated that from him.”
Stoner will be assisted at Jimtown by former Jimmies head coach Darin Mast, Luke Smith and some others to be determined. Smith will be the pitching coach.
“I want kids who have bought in and ready to work and get better,” says Stoner. “We want to dig into the whole character aspect and build young men who will be successful outside of baseball as well.
“I’m a big believer in the little things matter — staying mentally into games. That stuff carries over into life, too. That’s what I hope to relay to these guys and imprint on their lives.”
In order for a program to be successful, athletes must accept their roles and putting the team first.
Stoner says he’s seen that attitude so far in his years with the Jimmies and expects it to continue.
“This is a special place,” says Stoner of Baugo Community Schools. “I see that in these kids. They accept their roles, understand what it is and embrace and enjoy it.
“They want to get better in their roles because it’s about the team. That’s part of The Gold Standard — what can I do get us where we want to be?”
New IHSAA rules allow coaches to work with an unlimited number of players in the off-season, but only two times a week for up to two hours at a time.
“One of the big things that I want to focus on is getting into the weight room and growing physically,” says Stoner. “There are muscles for baseball that are different for other sports.
“And pitching is huge. We want to get that arm built up. There’s a reason pitchers and catchers come in early (for spring training) in the major leagues. You’ve got to get that arm strength built up. We’ll focus on that early.”
Stoner notes that even though rules limit off-season team activities to four times a week, that doesn’t prevent players from working on their own.
“Those are the kids that have that passion and can’t get enough of it,” says Stoner.
What changes has Stoner noticed in the education field?
“It’s crazy,” says Stoner. “Technology is huge now. We’re using (Google) Chromebooks in class and researching.
“(Technology) is also huge in baseball, too. We can get the iPad out and videotape a swing, slow it down and talk about certain points. There’s definitely connections there.”
Cory and wife Richele Stoner have two sons — Luke and Sam. Sam Stoner recently had his first birthday. Luke Stoner turns 3 in September. Cory and Richele are expecting a third boy — Cole — in December.
Kirby and Barb Stoner are Cory’s parents. Kirby Stoner is retired from the Mishawaka Police Department. Barb Stoner keeps busy babysitting her grandkids. Scott Stoner, Cory’s older brother and a social studies teacher at John Young Middle School in Mishawaka, is married with a daughter.
Cory Stoner is in his sixth year as a teacher and coach in Baugo Community Schools. After five seasons as an assistant, the graduate of Mishawaka (Ind.) High School and Bethel College is now head baseball coach at Jimtown High School. (Steve Krah Photo)