By STEVE KRAH
It’s a unique baseball venue.
Oil City Stadium — home to the Whiting (Ind.) High School Oilers (also the Calumet College of St. Joseph Crimson Wave and summer-collegiate Northwest Indiana Oilmen) — offers views of the BP Refinery and is just blocks from Lake Michigan and the high school.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” says Adam Musielak, head baseball coach at Whiting High since the 2016 season and part of the Oilers staff since 2015. “It’s got to be one of the best high school fields in the entire state.”
In recent years, Whiting has hosted both IHSAA sectional and regional tournaments at the facility on 119th Street. The park was on display in 2016 for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches North/South All-Star Series.
Oil City Stadium is maintained by City of Whiting grounds crew.
“They do amazing work,” says Musielak. “The kids that get to play on that don’t know how lucky they are. At most schools, you spend 20 minutes after the game or practice raking the field.”
Being so close to the water also means there’s a chill at many Whiting home games.
“It can be 45 degrees in Whiting and 70 degrees in other places,” says Musielak. “I always pack my cold gear no matter what the weather’s like.”
The Oilers are in an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Bowman Academy, Gary Roosevelt, Hammond Bishop Noll, Lake Station Edison and River Forest. Whiting has won three sectionals — 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Oilers were in the championship game in 2017 and 2018.
Musielak welcomes back two players for 2019 that have been Whiting starters since they were freshmen — senior Nino Barbosa and junior Aidan Plemons.
Barbosa has played many positions and done some pitching. He paced the 2018 Oilers in most offensive categories.
Musielak says the three-sport standout could end up playing football, basketball or baseball at the college level.
Right-hander Plemons was Whiting’s No. 1 pitcher a year ago and hits in the heart of the lineup and also has college baseball aspirations.
Recent graduates moving on to college diamonds are right-hander Cody Bucsko (Calumet College of St. Joseph) and left-hander Ryan Veloz (South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill.).
Musielak’s coaching staff features Tim Mysliwy and volunteer Brad Johnson. A third assistant is being sought.
Mysliwy brings knowledge in player development. He has multiple drills for every situation.
“He’s someone I lean on big time,” says Musielak of Mysliwy. “Since we share our field with Calumet College, we must come up with unique practice ideas when we’re indoors.
“There are no wasted days. We’re getting work in no matter what we’re doing.”
Whiting (enrollment of about 430) has many multi-sport athletes that share facilities.
“We make do with what we’ve got and who we’ve got,” says Musielak. “Our goal is to always get them better.
“With the kids that are working hard, you can see the results.”
Musielak expects to keep 26 to 28 players for varsity and junior varsity schedules.
Traveling on smaller activity buses, the Oilers usually take 13 or 14 to road games with a few more at home games.
“We make sure every kid gets an opportunity to play once a week no matter the level,” says Musielak.
Whiting Little League, Lakeshore Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth League and travel organizations help feed the Oilers program.
Whiting belongs to the Greater South Shore Athletic Conference (with Calumet, Griffith, Hammond Bishop Noll, Hanover Central, Lake Station Edison, River Forest and Wheeler).
“It’s great competition,” says Musielak. “It helps us prepare for the postseason.”
Musielak is a 2008 graduate of Highland (Ind.) High School, where he played football and baseball for four years and basketball for three.
He was quarterback and team leader for the Spartans in football, playing for head coach Eric Miller.
“He’s someone I really look up to,” says Musielak of Miller. “He taught me how to be a young man and do the right thing. As simple as it sounds, that is something that has stuck with me to this day.
“He’s a great person.”
A pitcher, Musielak played on the diamond for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dan Miller and assistant John Bogner (now head baseball coach at Highland).
“He taught you what it meant to have a little toughness and some resiliency,” says Musielak of Dan Miller. “He gave us confidence
“He always believed we would win and that trickled down to the rest of us and we believed it.”
Musielak cherishes the opportunity to compete each spring against his alma mater and be welcomed home by mentor Bogner.
“He’s been good about walking me through the head coaching process,” says Musielak.
He was an assistant football coach for one season at Highland and is still part of the grid staff at Griffith High School, where Ben Geffert logged his fourth season as head coach this fall.
Musielak first coached basketball as a boys varsity assistant to former Oilers head coach Tim Hopps in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Kevin Lenz was the head baseball coach in Musielak’s first spring with the Oilers.
Musielak enjoyed the Japanese program at Highland and had considered teaching that language to high schoolers.
Instead, he graduated from Indiana University in 2013 and is now in his third year of instructing fifth graders at Ready Elementary in Griffith. His dog is named “Hoosier” and he enjoys rooting for IU’s sports teams.
Adam is the third child of Paul and Joyce Musielak, who both work at Siemer Heating & Cooling in Highland. Older brother Paul Musielak owns Gem Homes in Indianapolis and his younger sister Christina Musielak teaches special education in Crown Point, Ind. Adam is two years younger than Paul and two years older than Christina.
“Dad likes to say he’s been in every home in The Region,” says Musielak. “He taught me how to throw a football and a baseball. When I took pitching lessons, he was my personal catcher.”
A paraprofessional when Adam and his siblings were in school, he credits his mother for instilling an appreciation for education. She was at every game and organized team meals.
Adam and Paul were competitive while growing up.
“He showed me how to gain some toughness,” says Musielak. “My sister played a couple of sports when she was younger. She was the water girl/manager for the football team.
He marvels at what she does as a teacher.
“I’ve never met anybody that has such a heart of gold,” says Musielak.
Two Whiting graduates played in the majors — outfielder Al Pilarcik (1956-61 with the Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox) and infielder Larry Fritz (one game with the 1975 Philadelphia Phillies). Pilarcik is an IHSBCA Hall of Famer.
Adam Musielak, a Highland (Ind.) High School and Indiana University graduate, is head baseball coach at Whiting (Ind.) High School and an assistant football coach at Griffith (Ind.) High School. He is also a fan of the Chicago Bears.
Adam Musielak has been part of the Whiting (Ind.) High School baseball coaching staff since 2015. He heads into his fourth season as head coach in 2019.