By STEVE KRAH
Doug Buysse has hit the ground running as the first full-time baseball coach at Indiana University South Bend.
Buysse, who was hired July 25 after serving three seasons as head baseball coach at South Bend Washington High School, has been assembling his coaching staff and preparing for the arrival of his players (fall semester begins Monday, Aug. 21.).
That’s when implementation of the program’s culture can begin in earnest.
After talking with seniors and other returnees, Buysse has found that the players want a brotherhood.
“A big part of our fall will be building a hard-working, positive, all-in-the-same-boat culture,” says Buysse. “They are very excited. They really want that bond as a team.”
The idea is to be selfless and care more about teammates than themselves.
There will be practices and intra-squad games in the fall as Buysse and his players become familiar with one another.
“It’s going to be a learning experience all the way around,” says Buysse. “We’ll see what Titan baseball looks like moving forward.”
A three-week break in October will allow players to get a break from daily baseball activities while they continue to lift weights, condition and go to class.
Buysse ticked off the program’s priorities.
“They start off the field,” says Buysse. “We want to develop men; everyone graduates. After that comes the classroom. Wins and losses are down the list.”
Daily class checks are likely with Buysse and his staff. All newcomers will be required to spent a minimum of four hours per week in study table. All players will be expected to use these resources until they have a 3.0 grade-point average or better.
Buysse has set a goal of a 3.4 accumulative team GPA. That’s for the fall and the spring.
“I’m not a big believer in relaxing expectations during the season,” says Buysse.
The grade rule is not meant to be punitive but to show them what is available to them.
“We’re trying to show these guys all the tools they need to be successful (on the field and off) and showing them how to use those tools,” says Buysse. “If they graduate, they’ll graduate with an IU degree and that will open more doors than playing college baseball will.
“The resources they have here are just unbelievable. I have are just unbelievable. I have the backing of the administration. They want to see this be a success.”
The John Glenn High School and Saint Joseph’s College graduate has hired Trace Myers as a part-time assistant. Chris Mangus, Luke Gaboury and Kyle Liedtky will be volunteer student assistants while Kyle Heeter is the strength and conditioning coach.
Myers comes from the University of Notre Dame, where he was director of operations for the rowing program. Mangus was the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference player of the year last spring and is working to finish his degree.
The Titans, a member of the NAIA and CCAC, go into the fall with a roster of 31 players. That includes about a half dozen recruits and transfers.
Buysse played at SJC for Rick O’Dette (now at St. Leo University in Florida) and the coach told his players “baseball is 10 percent of what we do.”
Saint Joseph’s shut its doors in May, taking the baseball program with it. With Buysse at IUSB and the Titans playing many of their games in Chicago, he expects to see many SJC alums to back his program next spring.
Buysse will have his assistants out on the recruiting trail this fall, attending showcases and working at camps.
IUSB is looking to fill its schedule, which is capped at 55 games.
Newton Park in Lakeville, about 11 miles southwest of campus, will be the Titans’ home facility.
As a joint effort between the school and Newton Park, the baseball team will provide a labor force to get things done at the complex and the owners will supply materials.
IUSB will have priority at the field.
“They want us there and are willing to work with us,” says Buysse.
The Titans will work to be very visible in the community, appearing at local schools and participating in service projects.
Buysse has been active with the South Bend Cubs Performance Center and the new South Bend Cubs Foundation and expects to continue in some capacity.
Doug Buysse is the new head baseball coach at Indiana University South Bend. (IUSB Photo)