Building team chemistry is among the priorities for Josh Ulery as he takes over as head baseball coach at his alma mater — Peru (Ind.) High School. Hired in the fall to lead the Tigers program, the 1999 Peru graduate graduate has also been stressing fundamentals, conditioning and offensive approach while assessing his team’s strengths and weaknesses during IHSAA Limited Contact Period activities. “We want to hit the fastball and be aggressive in the (batter’s) box,” says Ulery of his hitters. “We want to swing hard but have a controllable swing.” This week, players were in the gym for Tuesday hitting. Fielding practice is slated for Saturday. Ulery wants his team — which has most varsity players back from 2022 — to be “tip-top defensively.” Thanks to moving to a new shift and role for the Peru Police Department (he went into police work at 25 and is now a detective) Ulrey is able to coach baseball in an expanded capacity. In the past he’s been a paid assistant and last year was a volunteer for Chuck Brimbury, who was his head coach when he was a standout right-handed pitcher/first baseman for the Tigers and offered a baseball scholarship to Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (which he did not pursue). “A lot of my coaching comes through Chuck Brimbury,” says Ulrey. A four-year varsity performer, Ulrey was with Dick Keller for the first two years and Brimbury the next two. Peru went 22-5 in 1999. With many of that team returning in 2000, the Tigers won their only IHSAA Class 3A regional title. With an enrollment around 660, Peru is the largest school Three Rivers Conference (which also includes Maconaquah, Manchester, Northfield, North Miami, Rochester, Southwood, Tipppecanoe Valley, Wabash and Whitko). TRC teams see each other once during conference play. Peru is slated to begin the regular season April 7 against Bluffton in the Howard County Invitational. The slate also features at April 29 home doubleheader against South Bend Saint Joseph, a May 6 round robin at Western at May 13 Miami County Classic. The Tigers are part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping in 2023 with Bellmont, Maconaquah, Mississinewa, Norwell and Oak Hill. Peru has won five sectional titles — the last in 2018. Lief Astrup graduated in 2022. Returnees include several players who Ulery says have college baseball aspirations — Class of 2023’s Logan Gatliff and Fox Huppenthal, 2024’s Ian Potts, Matthew Roettger and Jackson Rogers and 2025’s Gavin Eldridge. “We have an amazing freshman class,” says Ulery, who could see as many as 17 representing the Class of 2026. “Those guys are really competitive. I can image a few pushing for varsity positions. “It should be an exciting and motivated year.” There have been 36 players at various open fields and conditioning. Ulery says he expects to keep up to 28 in the spring. His varsity assistants are Rob Hileman, Chris Beauchamp, Ron Potts, Adam Butt and Gary Loe with the varsity. Hillman works with hitters and fielders and coaches third base. Beauchamp is assistant hitting/outfielders coach. Potts is in charge of drill work. Butt and Loe do scorebook work for varsity and junior varsity. Jacob Loftus is head JV/catching coach. Jody Beauchamp (brother of Chris) is program pitching/first baseman coach and JV assistant. Ron Whitney is a JV assistant and also works with outfielders. Peru fields a junior high team of seventh and eighth graders that plays about a dozen contests in the spring. Jeff Dicken is the head coach. His assistant is Cody Hiles. Volunteers are Andre Ambrose and Joe Bockover. Former head coach Mike Stewart is the public address announcer for Peru baseball. Bob DeWire coordinates field maintenance at Tiger Field. Ulery says there is talk about a new field being put in — with turf and new lights — in 2024. But those details have not been set. Josh and wife Becky (formerly Mannies) have been married for 17 years. The couple has three children (a girl and two boys) — junior Jordyn, eighth graders Lukas and kindergartener Blake. Jordyn Ulery is a varsity cheerleader. Her mother is Peru’s varsity cheer coach.
Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association members have voted and selected 16 district players of the year for 2021.
All-State and Indiana Player of the Year voting begins June 6.
The IHSAA state tournament series begins with sectionals May 26-31, followed by regionals June 5, semistates June 12 and the State Finals June 21-22. The IHSBCA Futures Games and North/South All-Star Series is slated for June 23-27 in Evansville.
Here’s a look at the 16 seniors chosen at Players of the Year in Districts A through P:
Says Swartzentruber: “Carter has been with us for two years following his transfer from Illiana Christian … Great kid, great student and great leader on our young team. One of my favorite players I have coached during my 24 years. … He has been a dominant player this year for us both on the mound and at the plate. There is not a doubt in my mind that he will do great things at Purdue and beyond. Great work ethic and very competitive young man.”
Lake Central is in the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional.
Says Evans: “He’s been a great pitcher for us, probably one of the more dominant pitchers in the (Duneland Athletic Conference). He’s a leader on and off the field. He also plays football and basketball. He’s a hard-working kid.”
Valparaiso is in the Class 4A Chesterton Sectional.
Says Smolinski: “Kyle has been blessed with an amazing ability to excel in both athletics and academics. Along with Kyle’s great leadership skills, he’s an outstanding teammate who respects his coaches, teachers and family. He’s hard-working, motivated and driven in everything that he does. I’m so proud of Kyle and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach him. I look forward to seeing him succeed on and off the field in the future … Kyle is the type of player where you wish you had nine of him on the field. He does everything you ask. He makes his teammates better.”
St. Joseph is in the Class 3A South Bend Clay Sectional.
Says Byall: “He has been a phenomenal player for us for four years. He is extremely talented, but has also worked extremely hard to transform his body and skills to an elite level … He is phenomenal to coach because you know he’s going to work hard and go about his business the right way every single day. He has been phenomenal for us this year, performing at such a high level, and by working hard everyday. He has a really bright future.”
Homestead is in the Class 4A Huntington North Sectional.
E — Jacob Loftus (Peru). A righty-swinging catcher for Tigers coach Chuck Brimbury, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Loftus has not yet made his college commitment. He plans to major in Secondary Math Education.
Say Brimbury: “Jacob is the best high school player I have coached at Peru High School in my two-plus decades. Hard worker, captain, tough, talented, and a model of ‘team first’ guy. We have have had two drafts, dozens of college players and several D-1 players from our program. Jacob ‘Yogi’ Loftus is our best to play here.”
Says King: “Hunter is a very talented player — one of the best I’ve had. Hunter is probably the best all-around hitter I’ve ever had. He’s definitely a five-tool player. He has the ability to play not only at the collegiate level but the professional level … He’s a good leader (for the program’s first outright Hoosier Heritage Conference championship). He talks hitting and situations all the time with our guys.”
Mount Vernon is in the Class 4A Pendleton Heights Sectional.
Says Marker: “I don’t think there’s another player in the state of Indiana that means more to his team than Luke means to ours. He strikes out between 15 and 21 guys (per game) … He’s had 11 strikeouts in four innings (a couple of times) … At the 1A level he strikes fear into the hearts of hitters … He’s got six pitches. He’ll have to whittle that down at the next level.”
Seton Catholic is in the Class 1A Seton Catholic Sectional.
Says Doty: “Kameron is the kind of player every coach hopes they will have the opportunity to coach — hard-working, dedicated, coachable, but most importantly a leader! Add it in the athletic ability and that describes Kameron Salazar. He has the ability to hit any pitch in any count to all fields. He is one of the best pure hitters I have had the opportunity to coach … His quick hands aid him both on the offensive and defensive side of the game. He will use all fields offensively and has significant range in the middle of the infield … All of those abilities — as great as they are — of course don’t come even close to describing his character! He is one of the nicest young men you would ever meet and terrific teammate! He has been (would have been) a four-year starter for us at shortstop if not for COVID. He has been the heart and soul of our program for the past four years and he will be great missed as he moves on to Marian next year. It’s truly been an honor to have the opportunity to coach him these past four years.”
Says Koeppen: “He’s by far one of the most enjoyable kids I’ve ever coached. He works as hard as anybody at practice. He does things the right way all the time … It’s been fun to sit back and watch him play this year.”
Lafayette Jeff is in the Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Sectional.
Says Cosgray: “Garrett is just a very well-rounded player. He’s an exceptional right-handed pitcher, topping out at 95 mph with good command of his curveball, slider and change-up … Defensively at shortstop, he’s very sound. He makes the routine play but also has the ability to make the spectacular play when necessary … He hits in the 3-hole for us. He can hit for power. He’s a gap-to-gap approach hitter, hitting over .500. It’s hard to find a more well-rounded player than him.”
Lebanon is in the Class 3A North Montgomery Sectional.
Says Freje: “He’s been a lead-off hitter and the top arm we go to … Chris is comfortable (as a sidearmer). He’s taken that role and run with it … He’s been incredibly impactful on the bases. He’s a gamer. He’s embraced all the roles he’s been given. He’s been a pleasure to coach.”
Says Jones: “He throws 92 mph-plus and he mixes his pitches real well. He gets a lot of strikeouts. He’s able to throw the ball up, throw the ball down and hit the corners … He hits well. He’s well over 400. He’s just a consistent guy.”
Edgewood is in the Class 3A Owen Valley Sectional.
Says Decker: “He’s had a really good senior year. He’s been good on the mound and at the plate for us. He probably could have gone some places to be a two-way (having played all over the field). He’s one of the better athletes I’ve got to coach … Stuff comes really easy to him.”
Silver Creek is in the Class 3A Silver Creek Sectional.
Says Mattingly: “He’s one of those kids who’s humble, hard-working and he competes. He want to be the best and he goes about his business to be the best … I’ve been around him a long time and he’s just a good kid.”
Southridge is in the Class 3A Southridge Sectional.
Says Goedde: “He’s been our most-consistent player all year. He’s in the middle of a good season. He’s had minimal slumps …. He’s versatile enough that he can play just about anywhere. Henry moves very well. He’s got a good, athletic body.”
Evansville Central is in the Class 4A Evansville Reitz Sectional.
IHSBCA 2021 District Players of the Year (School/Head Coach)
“It was a super good experience,” says Beauchamp. “The players were friendly.
“They welcomed me with open arms.”
Pitching four more times through Aug. 29, the southpaw went 0-0 with a 1.23 earned run average. In 7 1/3 innings, he struck out five and walked two. He threw 36 of 47 pitches for strikes.
Then came spring training for 2020.
Beauchamp, a 6-foot-2, 221-pounder, was in camp and one day away from the first exhibition game when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and things were shut down.
After close to two weeks, he returned home to Peru, Ind., and found a job while trying to stay sharp for baseball.
When he’s not working at Rock Hollow Golf Club in Peru, Beauchamp finds a partner and plays catch at Peru High School, where he graduated in 2016 and Chuck Brimbury is in his second stint as head coach. Or he will throw his weight PlyoCare Balls into a concrete wall at home.
A four-time all-Three Rivers Conference selection at Peru, Beauchamp went 16-6 on the mound with 244 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings during his Tigers career. He was 5-1 with 95 strikeouts and 13 walks in 44 1/3 innings as a senior. As a hitter, his career mark was .389 with 21 home runs and 94 RBIs.
In 41 mound appearances (27 in relief), Beauchamp went 5-3 with a 3.88 earned run average. In 88 2/3 innings, he struck out 70 and walked 57.
Beauchamp pitched in nine games (five starts) in 2019 with a 3.00 ERA. In 15 innings, he fanned 14 and walked 14.
Beauchamp took a liking to Lemonis for the way he talked to him and his parents — Jody and Robin.
“He’s a real great guy,” says Beauchamp of Lemonis. “I could talk baseball with him all day.”
Beauchamp was impressed by Bunn’s knowledge of the game and then found out he was also a fisherman and hunter like himself.
“That seals the deal even more,” says Beauchamp, who took his first deer last year in southern Indiana and has landed a largemouth bass around six pounds in a local pond and a 45-pound baby Tarpon on a charter boat in Florida.
Beauchamp got a chance to see how Mercer and Parker operate and sees that they are using even more technology in assessing players than when he was with the program.
“They’re definitely the new wave of coaching that’s going across the United States,” says Beauchamp of Mercer and Parker. “They definitely know baseball.”
During his time away from the Phillies, the organization has been sending him workouts through a phone app and every two weeks he gets an email about throwing program recommendations.
Beauchamp, who turned 22 in March, was throwing his four-seam fastball at 91 to 93 mph and occasionally touching 94.
“I feel I can get up to that 96/97 range,” says Beauchamp, who has also mixed in a two-seamer, 12-to-6 curveball and “circle” change-up. Recently, he’s been tinkering with a cutter.
“It typically has the same amount of break as the two-seam and goes the opposite way,” says Beauchamp, who lets his two-seamer run in on a left-handed batter and away from a righty. This is all done from a high three-quarter arm slot.
It’s an old saying that left-handers always have movement with their pitches.
Beauchamp buys into that theory.
“I can’t put my hat on straight,” says Beauchamp. “I can’t put my belt on straight.
“I can’t throw a ball straight. It always moves.”
Beauchamp was born and raised in Peru. He played in what is now known as the Peru Cal Ripken League until he was 12. First there was the Marlins in T-ball. Later, the Indians in Junior Farm (coach pitch) and the Rockies in Major League.
“Those were the sweetest jerseys ever,” says Beauchamp, who then played for Cam Brannock and Justin Brannock with the Summit City Sluggers travel ball organization through 17U.
Cam comes from a baseball-loving family. Uncle Chris Beauchamp is a Slugger board member and former Wabash (Ind.) High School assistant coach. Cousin Shea Beauchamp, son of Chris, played at Huntington (Ind.) University and is now a Foresters assistant coach.
Jody Beauchamp works as a quality checker at Haynes International in Kokomo.
Robin Beauchamp is a director of nursing consultant for Golden Living Centers.
“There’s a lot of excitement going on right now,” says third-year North Miami head coach Troy Hudson. “We had unbelievable support at the sectional championship game.”
Warrior fans stood up at the end of the game which saw North Miami outlast Northfield 1-0 in eight innings.
The day after the championship, the team gave back to the community by helping with tornado damage clean-up.
Hudson says that the roots planted when he took over are beginning to blossom on the field, with the home field and the feeder system.
North Miami goes to South Bend with a pitching staff led by junior right-handers Nathan Musselman, Jackson Green and Braxton Beal.
The lineup features junior lead-off man Eli Henderson plus Green, Musselman, sophomore Tyler Bauer, senior Jackson Holland, freshman Parker Johnson, sophomore Alex Masters and Corey Collins and senior Austin Carter.
Hudson’s assistant coaches are Josh Donathan (pitching), Steve Holland (catching), Jake Green (infielders), Daryl Schanlaub (outfielders) and Steve Frank (head junior varsity).
Warrior Field is North Miami’s on-campus home. The facility has undergone a complete transformation the past three years. Bullpens have been added on each side of the field with a new batting cage on the home side. The mound has been reconstructed. Infield and outfield warning tracks have been installed. The inside of the dugouts have been re-done. The infield has been re-leveled with new grass and the field re-edged.
“It takes a lot of time and a lot of commitment,” says Hudson. “But our school is the baseball of the community and (the field) is a good representation of the community.
“It gets kids excited when they’re playing on something nice.”
Hudson has increased his involvement with the Town & Country baseball program at Denver (which begins with T-ball) and helped get junior high baseball established at North Miami.
A combination of junior high and Babe Ruth, there were 11 players the first year led by Schanlaub and two teams of 12 each the next year, guided by Schanlaub and Shannon Floor. Last summer, the 15U team placed second to New Castle in the Babe Ruth state tournament and participated in regional play in West Virginia.
This year, Floor and Josh Hershberger coach the junior high teams.
This summer brings a high school team schedule.
“It gives the kids a chance at more baseball and more baseball knowledge,” says Hudson.
The TRC features mostly 2A and 3A schools with North Miami, Northfield and Southwood being in 1A. Conference schools play each other once to determine a champion.
The Warriors are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Caston, North White, Northfield, South Newton, Southwood and West Central.
Hudson is a 2006 graduate of Peru High School, where he played for Chuck Brimbury. He tries to follow the lead of his mentor and bring those qualities to the North Miami program.
“I learned a lot from him,” says Hudson of Brimbury. “You try to get the best out of your players.”
Hudson is building a culture where the good of the group comes ahead of that of the individual.
“You play for the guy next to you,” says Hudson. “What they should really care about is what the team is doing.”
Troy is dean of students at North Miami Elementary. His wife of 9-plus years, Amy, is an oncology nurse in Rochester, Ind. The couple have two children — son Kolten (9) and daughter Skylar (5).
North Miami Middle/High School’s baseball team dogpiles after winning the school’s first IHSAA sectional baseball title in 2019.
In his third season as head coach, Troy Hudson led North Miami Middle/High School near Denver, Ind., to its first IHSAA baseball sectional championship. The Warriors raised the 2019 trophy at the Class 1A Caston Sectional.
For the first time in school history, North Miami won an IHSAA baseball sectional title. The 2019 Warriors won the Class 1A Caston Sectional.
The Hudson family (clockwise from upper left): Amy, Troy, Skylar and Kolten. Troy Hudson is the head baseball coach at North Miami Middle/High School near Denver, Ind.
North Miami Middle/High School won the 2019 IHSAA Class 1A Caston Sectional baseball title and earned a berth in the June 1 South Bend Regional.
“Your mind is constantly in motion,” says Stambazze. “We do chalk talk and go through (defensive) scenarios. Every play, everyone has a responsibility. Who to back up is so important in this game.
“Remember, back-ups are your last line of defense.”
Stambazze says he wants to establish a solid base for the program in years to come.
“They can say I did it the right way and they can build off of that,” says Stambazze.
A familiar face and voice to athletics in the area covered by the Three Rivers Conference (Fulton, Kosciusko, Miami, Wabash and Whitley counties), Stambazze also serves as sports director and play-by-play announcer for WJOT-FM 105.9 in Wabash and WARU-FM 101.9 in Peru.
He was hired for the baseball job at Whitko this winter after the unexpected passing of head coach Mark Fisher at 35 on Oct. 15, 2018.
“Mark said he got into coaching for how I treated him in Little League,” says Stambazze. “I want to continue what he tried to set up.”
Fisher played for Stambazze as a boy in Huntington County Baseball and was close with Bob and Marla Stambazze’s sons, Jake and Bobby. Both sons are married with two children. Jake Stambazze played multiple positions for Indiana Tech coach Steve Devine and was an NAIA All-America honorable mention for the Warriors in Fort Wayne in 2005.
Bob Stambazze played baseball at Huntington North High School, where he graduated in 1971. The first three years, Paul Buzzard was Vikings head coach. Wally Stoffel began in Stambazze’s senior season and took the team all the way to semistate.
At Huntington North, Stambazze competed against Tipton High School and then-Blue Devils head coach Sherman. It wasn’t long after that Sherman became head coach at Huntington North and went on to a successful career that got him elected to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
In Sherman, Stambazze saw a fierce competitor and someone devoted to baseball basics.
“He was very intense and everything had to be fundamental,” says Stambazze. “Like he did, I teach (fielders) to track the ball into the glove and ‘gator’ the ball with your right hand and glove. You always used two hands.”
Brimbury coached at Huntington North with Sherman then enjoyed his own success at Peru High School.
“I don’t know if anybody will play as aggressively as a Chuck Brimbury team,” says Stambazze. “He’s one of the more competitive and fun coaches to be around.”
Stambazze credits long-time Huntington University head baseball coach Frame for setting an example of how to handle pitchers and student-athletes.
“He was pitcher and he’s a student of pitching,” says Stambazze of Frame. “He does such a wonderful job with his staff. He has minimized stuff with his staff so they can do more. He breaks things down.
“His faith toward his players, it’s so important. I’ve always believed in telling parents, ‘they’re your sons and daughters, but they’re always going to be my kids.’”
Stambazze sold sporting goods for 32 years. He’s been an IHSAA-licensed official since 1975. This school year, he worked about 20 football games and eight basketball contests. He will be occupied this spring so he won’t be calling softball.
As for calling games on the radio, he does that for high schools in Wabash and Howard counties and Manchester University football and basketball.
“No one has more fun doing it than I do,” says Stambazze, who went on the air 13 years ago as a color commentator and moved over to play-by-play when there was an opening for that position. Uniquely, his color person rotates by the game.
He calls 80 to 90 basketball games a year between high school varsity and junior varsity and college. This past sectional season saw him pull through while dealing with acute laryngitis. He also hosts a weekly Coaches’ Show for during football and basketball seasons.
Stambazze was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1972 and served in Germany. where he played basketball, managed the AYA on base and coached swimming. He played for the Germany/American baseball team in the world tournament in Nicargua in 1973 and coached the European 14-16 All-Stars to the Big League World Series in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1974.
After his military service, Stambazze played in three world fast pitch softball tournaments and also served as Huntington County Baseball president. He has been head softball coach at Huntington University and an assistant at Indiana Tech and Wabash High School.
Stambazze took over the Wildcats in time to help with some winter workouts. His assistant is Preston Myers, who made a long daily commute from Lebanon, Ind., to assist with the Northfield High School boys basketball program and is doing the same with Whitko baseball.
There have been 26 players with just two seniors at recent practices for varsity and junior varsity teams.
“We have a good JV schedule with about 20 games,” says Stambazze.
The Wildcats are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Lewis Cass, Manchester, Oak Hill, Rochester and Wabash. Whitko won the program’s lone sectional crown in 2017 with Erik Hisner as head coach and Fisher as one of his assistants. Hisner then went to Northfield as an assistant and is now athletic director at Eastern High School in Greentown, Ind.
Whitko plays its home games on-campus. Since his youth, Stambazze has known the importance of grooming the diamond.
“I’ve always taken care of the field,” says Stambazze. “That kind of comes naturally to me. Our kids do a very good job. They had the rakes in their hands after practice.
“You’ve got to own your program.”
Stambazze has held a clinic for the Larwill youth baseball league and hopes to do the same for youth leagues in Pierceton and South Whitley. Those organizations cover T-ball to Pony League.
There is currently not junior high baseball at Whitko, but it’s something that Stambazze and athletic director Josh Mohr have talked about.
Stambazze opposes some of the rule changes Major League Baseball is implementing like limiting pitching changes and the like.
“MLB doesn’t need to manage the game,” says Stambazze. “That’s part of baseball. They’re trying to take the human element out of the game. That’s the greatest part of the game. Leave it alone.”
The coach does favor the idea of high school batters staying in the batter’s box and the pitchers not taking too much time between deliveries.
“You want to have a flow to the game,” says Stambazze.
The IHSAA pitch count (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days) came along in 2017 and Stambazze favors that. Prior to the restriction, he broadcast games when pitchers representing the same school threw 225 and 175 pitches in tournament play.
Scrimmage rules allow for four innings of 10 batters each. Stambazze says he is planning to use 10 pitchers for four batters apiece in Whitko’s scrimmage and then restrict them to 45 tosses in each of the Wildcats’ first two regular-season games and work up from there.
Bob Stambazze is entering his first season as head baseball coach at Whitko Junior-Senior High School in South Whitley, Ind., in 2019. He is a Huntington North High School graduate and is sports director and play-by-play announcer for sports director and play-by-play announcer for WJOT-FM 105.9 in Wabash and WARU-FM 101.9 in Peru. (Jan’s Photography Photo)
Selection of the squads, which will include senior players from all four classes (25 from the South and 25 from the North), is scheduled the morning of the IHSAA State Finals on Saturday, June 16 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
North and South committees will review the names sent in from the 16 district meetings held on June 3.
Each head coach, who is an IHSBCA member, will receive notification from the district representative informing him of the time and place of the meeting.
Chuck Brimbury has enjoyed each stage of his professional life — from teacher and coach to assistant principal to principal to superintendent and then to athletic director along with a return to coach.
Brimbury is really basking in his second go-round as head baseball coach at Peru High School.
“I’ve loved every single job I’ve had in education,” says Brimbury, who also served 15 years as a football coach at Peru, including one as interim head coach. “The more you move up, the farther you seem to be from the kids and the daily guidance of them. I missed coaching. It was huge part of my life.
“I’ve been blessed to get back into it.”
After serving four years as superintendent of Peru Community Schools and helping to earn the district four-star status as one of the best-performing systems in Indiana, he opted in June 2014 to become AD and once again lead the Tigers on the diamond.
Beginning in 1998, Brimbury previously held the job for a decade.
“We had a really good run,” says Brimbury, whose teams were state-ranked in most seasons and had his 2000 squad reach the IHSAA Class 3A Final Four.
Brimbury borrowed methods he learned while serving as an assistant to Don Sherman at Huntington North High School.
The Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer taught him all the intricacies of running a successful baseball operation.
“We believe in holding people to high standards,” says Brimbury. “We get off the bus all looking the same and we stay together. Our top players carry the water cooler. There’s no job too small.”
Peru baseballers wears “Program” on their shirts to remind themselves and everyone else that “the program is more important than any player or any coach.”
Brimbury also uses drills and teaching methods gleaned from Hall of Famers Bill Jones of DeKalb, Bill Nixon of Plymouth and Chris Stavreti of Fort Wayne Northrop as well as the man who won 1,010 games and seven state championships — Ken Schreiber of LaPorte.
It doesn’t have to be a Thursday for the Tigers to throwing it back.
“We’re throwbacks,” says Brimbury. “It’s an old-school approach and our kids thrive off it.
“If you resemble a lot of guys with blue rings you’ll get one for your community one day. If their kids can do it, we can do it. We believe that here. We use a lot of what works.”
In his first season back in charge (2015), Brimbury enjoyed Peru’s first sectional championship since 2000.
When the Mid-Indiana Conference dissolved at the end on the 2014-15 academic school year, the Tigers joined the Three Rivers Conference and have reigned in baseball in their first two seasons in the new league (2016 and 2017).
“It’s a really good small-school conference,” says Brimbury of a conference which also includes Maconaquah, Manchester, Northfield, North Miami, Rochester, Southwood, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash and Whitko. “I really enjoy the competition.”
Brimbury has also savored the ability to build a non-conference which has pitted the Tigers against the best competition from around the state and to a variety of venues.
Tiger Field will also be the site of 2018 Miami County Classic. Two of the three teams that visit Peru feature head coaches with close ties to Brimbury — former assistant Shane Edwards at Oak Hill and former player Troy Hudson at North Miami. Maconaquah rounds out the field for the May 12 all-day event.
“We have an old-time field,” says Brimbury. “It’s beautiful at night. It’s a really good atmosphere for home games.
“It’s one of the better small-school stadiums out there.”
Brimbury’s public address announcer at Tiger Field and assistant at Peru athletic events is Mike Stewart.
“(Stewart) was passionate about the game,” says Brimbury, who graduated from high school in 1988 and went on to play a little at Marian University in Indianapolis and receive various degrees from Indiana State.
Every Peru game and a weekly coach’s show has been on the radio (thanks to 101.9 FM and broadcasters Bob Stambazze and Doug Muzzillo) and many contests are shown on student-run Tiger TV.
Several players saw significant varsity action last spring, meaning Brimbury welcomes back 17 lettermen.
Among the senior returnees are catcher Nathan Brimbury (Chuck and Michelle’s son and a 2017 IHSBCA Junior Showcase invitee), right-hander Lucas McConahay (the top returning pitcher), outfielders Austin Caldwell and Robert Cunningham, second baseman Kasey Comp, first baseman Christian Gatliff and designated hitter Nathan Ramirez.
Juniors include third baseman Blake Edwards, outfielder D.J. Fuller, catcher Payton Honn and left-handers Chance Ogle and Zach Purcell.
Sophomores in the mix are right-hander/third baseman/shorstop Michael Chandler, outfielder Jonah Hoopenthal, outfielder/shortstop Daunte Majors, middle infielder Dmitry Reese and right-handers Jackson Green and Chase Tyler.
Hitting coach Rob Hileman has been with Brimbury in every season in both of his tenures except one. Jody Beauchamp is the Tigers pitching coach. Shawn Dwyer, Josh Ulrey, Brad Townsend, Gary Loe and strength coach complete the high school staff.
Sixth grader Madison Brimbury (Chuck and Michelle’s daughter) is a baseball student manager.
Michelle Brimbury, who is a special education teacher at PHS, is also team mom.
Feeders for the high school program include a Peru Junior High School team, which is expected to play 12 to 15 games in April and May.
“It’s fulfilling to see our kids playing at some level above high school and we try to keep (former players) a part of our program,” says Brimbury, who regularly welcomes baseball alums from his first Peru head coaching stint into his dugout and is now coaching the sons of some former players. “It’s a long history of former Tiger baseball players.
“We are totally vested in the success of our kids here.”
The Brimbury family celebrates Peru High School’s 2015 sectional baseball championship (from left): Michelle, Nathan, Nolan, Chuck and Madison. In 2018, Chuck is in the fourth season of his second tenure as head coach. Nathan is a senior catcher. Michelle is team mom. Madison is student manager. Nolan is now a redshirt sophomore at Indiana State University.
“Everybody says Christmas is the greatest time of the year,” Edwards said during the annual IHSBCA State Clinic in Indianapolis. “But for baseball coaches, in my opinion, this is. Because you get to be around these guys.”
There were more than 400 coaches there sharing their love of the game.
“That’s the neatest thing about our association,” Edwards said of the giving nature of coaches in the sport. “There’s no fear in baseball. I’m successful and here’s what we do. Feel free to try it. There’s no secrets. Guys are always willing to help each other out. That’s great.
In Brimbury, he met a disciple of Sherman. Both men encouraged Edwards to become involved in the IHSBCA and continue the legacy set by founders like Jones, the group’s long-time executive director who passed away Nov. 2, 2015.
“Bill is one of the reasons I’m at Oak Hill,” Edwards said. “He called and said I had an interview at Oak Hill. I didn’t even know I applied. Bill called them and said this is who you need to interview. I owe a lot to Bill. I owe a lot to our association. I feel I need to be a part of it.”
Current executive director Brian Abbott has taken Edwards under his wing and he has helped move the organization forward.
“I want the start of this association to be proud of where we are now,” Edwards said. “I’m excited to see young faces in programs that I know are going to teach them things the right way. I’m excited to see guys who are here and want to learn about the game and aren’t set in their ways.”
Edwards, a former teacher who is now in central administration, proudly wears the “old school” label.
That means concepts like discipline and accountability are important to him.
“We want to win baseball games along the way, but we don’t want to do that at the sacrifice of doing things the right way,” Edwards said. “That’s my goal every year, making sure the kids know how to play the game the right way but also be quality young men.”
Accountability used to be an automatic. Not anymore.
“When we were growing up, you respected your elders and you were accountable and that’s how it had to be,” Edwards said. “Now, it has to be taught.”
Edwards would like nothing better than to have 50 players show up at an alumni game because they were part of a program that they enjoyed — one that continues to do things the right way.