Getting the call

Photo by Zack EldridgeLa Porte baseball coach Scott Upp hits ground balls in a preseason practice before last season at Kiwanis Field. Upp will be inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association (IHSBCA) Hall of Fame in January in Indianapolis.

La PORTE — Scott Upp has been a prep coach for a while.

And he and his La Porte baseball program have achieved some tremendous milestones.

He's captured countless sectional titles, a few regionals, one semistate, and hoisted the 2000 state trophy after winning the Class 4A title.

Now he can add another accomplishment to his growing list.

Upp will be inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association (IHSBCA) Hall of Fame on January 17 in Indianapolis.

“Honestly, what it means is what a great thing for Slicer baseball, what a great thing for La Porte High School, what a great thing for our baseball community in La Porte really,” Upp said. “I don't look at it as an individual award as much as I look at it as there's a lot of people involved in this and a lot of people who have been a part of this whole thing to get honored like this.”

He stressed the community of La Porte, the players, current and former, coaches, administrators and people who are involved with baseball in any way, shape or form, mean a lot to him.

"I'm sure that's who I'll thank when I'm standing up there for a three- to five-minute speech," Upp said. "I've just got to keep myself composed."

Upp, who's been at the Slicers helm the last 22 years, has a 456-194 record in his tenure.

When he found out about this accolade, Upp's initial reaction was a little ashamed due to the fact La Porte scuffled last spring.

“I hate to say this, but I was a little bit embarrassed,” he said. “I understand the reason you are inducted is for a bigger picture than one season. But last season was pretty rough on us, so when we got the phone call, it was kind of like, 'Oh boy, we finished 12-18 last year.' So it was a little bit embarrassing just for the fact that we didn't have a very good season last year. But I do understand it's for the bigger picture, not necessarily something singular.”

To get chosen for this hall of fame, a person has to be nominated by a fellow coach or by a fellow hall of fame member.

Once they get nominated, then the process moves into the entire association, which encompasses all of the baseball coaches in the whole state of Indiana and they vote on that person. They have to receive a certain percentage of that vote in order to be inducted into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame.

“That's probably one of the biggest honors of this whole thing, what your peers think about you when they vote for you,” Upp said. “There must be some people who think we're doing right by baseball in Indiana.”

Upp himself has nominated four or five people in his coaching career.

A member of the IHSBCA, Upp is also a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), an international organization, and the National High School Coaches Association, a national organization. 

Upp followed renowed La Porte baseball coach Ken Schreiber, who posted more than 1,000 wins in his high school coaching career. He played under Schreiber, coached alongside him as an assistant, then was given the reins to the program after Schreiber retired in 1998.

Following a legend, Upp has excelled in his own way.

“To be able to lead this program is an honor in itself,” he said. “And to be bestowed an honor like this one is like putting frosting on the cake. Hopefully, we can continue to do some things right. Just because we get this award doesn't mean we're going to stop working. It's always been said, 'It's easy to win one year, but it's harder to win every year.' I've been through this. I'm finding that out. It is hard to maintain a program at a very high level.”

In the end, Upp thinks giving his acceptance speech at the induction banquet might be the most difficult task of this whole situation.

“The worst part about it is I have to give a speech,” Upp said. “And with La Porte baseball, the La Porte School community and my family allowing me to do all of this, my biggest fear is to try and maintain my composure in a three- to five-minute speech. I tried that once and it just didn't work. I broke down and I was mumbling and crying and everything else through a speech I thought I'd be able to get through.

"It's almost easier to coach in the third base coach's box when the score's tied 2-2 in the seventh inning than it will be to control my emotions while I give this three- to five-minute speech about why this is important to us."

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