Indiana high school baseball coaches will gather in Indianapolis for their annual state clinic and banquet next weekend.
Hebron's John Steinhilber will be among the honorees, receiving a district Coach of the Year award for his efforts in leading the Hawks (20-9) to the Class 2A semistate and a missed called third strike from the state finals last spring.
That's the good news.
The bad news is Stein won't be able to make the trip. He'll be coaching the Hawks in a boys basketball game that night at North Judson, one of the few downsides to being a head coach in back-to-back seasons.
"If it wasn't a sectional opponent, I would've considered it," Steinhilber said. "If it had been at home, we would've switched it."
Hebron asked North Judson about moving the game, but was rebuffed. Maybe the Hawks' win over the Jays in last year's sectional still isn't sitting well. Judson doesn't even play Feb. 8-9. Nor does Hebron.
"I'm kinda bummed," Steinhilber said.
Whatever the case, it's too bad Steinhilber's going to miss out on the chance to be present for the award, which is no small achievement coming in these parts, where there plenty of heavy hitters (pun intended).
"To see Jack Campbell inducted and see Kenny Lofton..." he said. "Any time you're recognized by your peers, with the quality coaches around here, I'm incredibly blessed."
Steinhilber remembers when he got the letter from the IHSBCA. His first thought was they were asking for membership dues.
"I was really taken aback when I opened it," he said. "I forgot where my wife (Melissa) was, but I kept calling her, (saying) 'You're not going to believe this.' Those things just don't come around. I'm grateful. I'll be excited about it until the day, though I can't be there."
At the very least, Steinhilber hopes assistant coach Sean Riley can attend in his absence. It also made him feel good to walk by the principal's office at the high school and have Mark Lutze say congratulations, and receive kudos around the school.
"They sent (Lutze) a letter, which I thought was classy," Steinhilber said. "It's a school award type of thing. I take pride in that. Nobody wins alone. I share it with every one of the guys from last year and the guys I have this year, my coaches. It has a lot to do with the community. I love Hebron. I feel good about being represented by Hebron. My A.D. (Rhonda Walker)'s supportive. It's something I haven't had in a long time, since I was under Kevin Hannon. I can't say enough about all the administration."
Truth be known, Stenhilber strongly considered stepping down as baseball coach after last season. It didn't have anything to do with not wanting to coach. It had everything to do with the time involved and how that affects his wife Melissa and two sons, who are both involved in athletics. Ask any baseball coach. As the school year rolled around, Steinhilber talked it over with the boss of the house and agreed this wasn't the time.
"It's something I couldn't give up right now, for so many reasons," he said. "To come so close... It's in my blood. I can't get it out."
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