By STEVE KRAH
Jordan Turner was heading into his freshman year at Churubusco (Ind.) Junior-Senior High School when he saw an opportunity.
The Eagles’ starting catcher the year before was a senior. Turner played other positions, but he began focusing on playing behind the plate on varsity and that’s what he did for four years, graduating in 2011.
Mark Grove, who was in the midst of a very successful career as Churubusco head coach (he won 513 games with nine sectional titles, four regional crowns, a semistate runner-up finish and nine Northeast Corner Conference championships from 1985-2015), trusted Turner to call pitches and allowed him to manage a game.
“I definitely learned a lot from Grove,” says Turner, who has been head coach at his alma mater since the 2018 season and is also a high school English teacher. “As a player you don’t think about everything that goes into games and practices. As a coach, I definitely lean on him all the time and whatever coaching information he can give to me.
“Beyond that, it’s the role model Grove’s been as a teacher and another supportive figure in my life. I can’t say enough about the impact he’s had on me and how much help he’s provided to the program.”
Turner began coaching while he still at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (now Purdue Fort Wayne) earning an English Education degree with a History minor.
After serving as an assistant on Grove’s staff for two seasons and helping Jason Pierce for one, Turner took over the Eagles and Grove (a 2021 Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Fame inductee) has served as a volunteer on his staff.
Though he is not listed as a 2023 assistant, Grove will help when he’s available.
The staff features Dalton Blessing (Class of 2018) and Derek Bowyer (Class of 2016) as varsity assistants with Turtle Town community member Brian Jones leading the junior varsity with help from Seth Abel (Class of 2021). Bowyer played a few seasons at Trine University.
Churubusco (enrollment around 400) is a member of the Northeast Corner Conference (with Angola, Central Noble, Eastside, Fairfield, Fremont, Garrett, Hamilton, Lakeland, Prairie Heights, West Noble and Westview).
Hamilton is expected to play a JV schedule in 2023. The NECC tournament is April 24-29.
The Whitley County-based Eagles are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2023 with Central Noble, Eastside, Prairie Heights, Westview and Whitko. Churubusco has 10 sectional titles — the last in 2015.
Recent graduates moving on to college diamonds include Class of 2021’s Brayten Gordon (Indiana Tech) and Evan Snyder (Adrian, Mich., College) and 2022’s Cal Ostrowski (Ivy Tech Northeast Community College in Fort Wayne).
Churubusco Youth League “Where Eagles Grow” sponsors teams from T-ball to age 14 at Churubusco Community Park.
The high school home field is located between the school and the park (there is a large turtle statue at the entrance off U.S. 33).
For decades, games were played with no outfield fence. That was added early in the Grove era.
Since Turner has been in charge, upgrades include a windscreen and concession stand.