For veteran coach Mike Swartzentruber, a new town to call home has to have two characteristics: a small town with big city pastimes and a love of baseball. He found that in his big move to St. John.
Born and raised in Washington, Indiana, a small Southern Indiana town sandwiched between Jackson and Vincennes, sports were always a part of Swartzentruber’s life.
“I played baseball and basketball for four years in high school,” Swartzentruber said. “I also played football for a few years, but by chance, I started playing tennis and I was actually pretty good.”
After graduating from high school, Swartzentruber enrolled in Oakland City University in Oakland City, Indiana where he studied Business Education and of course, played baseball. After graduation, he became a teacher and started his impressive resume as a coach.
“I was a baseball coach at North Posey High school for 12 years,” Swartzentruber said. “Then my family and I moved to Martinsville, which isn’t too far from Bloomington, and I coached at Martinsville High School for eight years before coming to Lake Central.”
Just like in high school, his love of sports and coaching wasn’t exclusive to baseball.
“A lot of people are surprised to learn that I also coached varsity tennis for four years,” he said. “I’ve done a little bit of everything.”
After Martinsville, Swartzentruber heard about the opening at Lake Central and decided to apply. He originally thought it was an opening for a teaching position, but the opening for the position as varsity baseball coach is what really grabbed his attention.
“I reached out to Todd Iwema, who is a business teacher at Lake Central and was the head coach of the baseball team at the time,” Swartzentruber explained. “I actually knew Todd because our teams, Lake Central and North Posey, used to play each other. That’s how Lake Central got on my radar.”
He was fortunate enough to get an interview with the chairman of the Business Department and, of course, he got the job.
“I was actually at Universal Studios with my family when I got the call about the job,” Swartzentruber said. “It was a no-brainer and I wanted to be in a community where there was a real love of baseball, so I accepted and the rest is history.”
The Swartzentruber family made their move up to St. John last summer and so far are loving the small town.
“We haven’t had a chance to see Northwest Indiana as much as we would have wanted, but we are looking forward to the summer so we can really explore,” he explained. “But we do love that we live in a small community that’s not too big, but there’s always plenty to do.”
When Swartzentruber isn’t coaching, teaching or coming up with lesson plans, he is spending time with his family who support him and his crazy life as a coach.
“My wife and I have been married for almost 17 years,” Swartzentruber said. “She and my kids have put up with the life of a coach for a long time. It’s nice having that support system in the stands during every game.”
And when he isn’t coaching sports, he’s usually content with being at home and watching them.
“I’m a big sports fan,” Swartzentruber said. “Right now I’m watching the March Madness tournament, and during the baseball season, even though they’re not the best team in the league right now, I’m cheering on the Cincinnati Reds.”
The veteran coach’s love for baseball makes him a perfect addition to the Lake Central High School family. And while it may be a hectic schedule for the teacher/coach/family man, Mike Swartzentruber gets up every day to do what he loves and spend time with the people he loves.
“Between teaching and coaching and grading assignments and spending time with my family, it’s a hectic life,” Swartzentruber said. “But it’s the stuff that I love, so it’s worth it.”
For more information about the Lake Central Indians, go to lakecentralbaseball.wixsite.com/indians.