At 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, Zach Coulter saw the reality of his playing career as a freshman at Manchester.
It was there where the La Porte graduate who played football, basketball and lacrosse as a Slicer, in addition to travel baseball, began to channel his love for sports into coaching.
"I took a baseball coaching class, I was a student assistant in football," Coulter said. "That's where my passion lied. I figured that was better than getting beat on in football practice."
After a decade of success coaching in various capacities, from middle school to junior varsity to travel ball, Coulter has made the jump to the varsity level, having been named head baseball coach at South Central.
"I honestly love high school athletics," said Coulter, who spent four years at La Porte as part of the boys basketball and baseball programs.
South Central was impressed with Coulter's enthusiasm in the interview process.
"Zach is an energetic young coach," Athletics Director John Haggard said. "He's a very detail-oriented guy who's very passionate about the game and it shows. He's a coach who prides himself on doing the right thing for the athlete. I'm excited to have him on board. I expect Zach to hit the ground running and continue the successful traditions that have been established."
Coulter, who works as an insurance agent/realtor, has been a part of three travel baseball World Series teams, two with the La Porte Crush and another with the South Shore Smoke. It's there where he gained an appreciation for the parents and volunteers who, when it's done right, help put kids on the path to athletic success.
"There's a lot of sweat equity, building up players, putting in the work," he said. "I'm a big proponent that if people put the time in, that's not to be discounted. It's important to get them involved with the program, have coaches clinics, youth camps. It's having a youth coach in the dugout for a game, kids taking ground balls or batting practice with their favorite player. It's all about developing a sense of pride, a camaraderie in South Central baseball."
One of Coulter's top priorities is linking all the youth baseball organizations that tie into South Central. Without stepping on the toes of travel ball teams, he hopes to develop an S.C. summer team, much like LP coach Scott Upp has done with Maple City Baseball.
"Everybody ties in together," he said. "The biggest thing is getting those kids coming up in fourth to seventh grade to buy in. That's where you start, get them to understand the philosophy, the work ethic. If you prepare them with the right mindset, get them dialed in, then they're going to excel at the high school level."
South Central has won eight sectionals in the last decade, but with two Division I players graduated (Kyle Schmack and Carson Husmann) and the sport moving up to Class 2A, hurdles lie ahead, and Coulter is anxious to face them.
"I take the jump in class as a challenge, a test of our work ethic," he said. "Some people might call it a rebuilding year, say the cupboard's a little bare. The White Sox are in a rebuilding year. South Central's not. We've got a lot of talented juniors and seniors, and sophomores coming up. (Principal) Ben (Anderson) and John (Haggard) have created a positive culture. We're going to continue the tradition of excellence, growing and building on what Ryan (Kruszka) and Jarad (Miller) left behind. I'm excited about it."