It’s no secret that the La Porte High School Baseball program has a history of success. Over the past 20 years, they have consistently boasted an excellent record. And this year, they're winning and looking forward to a great season.
“It takes a lot of motivation and a lot of practice. I try to give the players real life examples of different possible plays as much as I can. I try to give them data that means something,” La Porte High School Baseball Coach Scott Upp said of his team's preparation.
It’s a process of breaking down the game into step by step solutions, allowing players to focus on the immediate action in the game, and know exactly what to do.
Upp also utilizes a team "goal board," which is a system that gives players specific, manageable goals. The goal board is worked into each practice.
“We try and meet certain goals over a time span of a certain number of games, and we look and see what areas we’re not doing so well in. The bottom category on the board is win or loss," Upp explained. "It lets us examine our goals, look at all of the data, and clearly see the areas we’re not doing so well in. From there, we can try to correct it.”
From Monday through Saturday, if the Slicers aren't on the field against an opponent, they are practicing and working to stay sharp on "the routine things." Practices also focus on areas of improvement the coach is looking to see from his players after games.
“Even if you’re doing well, you want to make sure you’re sharp," said Upp. “We make corrections and alter some of the things they’re doing in order to be successful."
Upp has spent 28 years coaching baseball, nearly 20 of which with the Slicers.
“I look at it as 19 different one-year experiments," he said. "You get different personnel, you have different players, and there are some basic consistencies. After that, you make an adjustment to the personalities you have that year.”
Coach Upp values players who are committed and have a strong work ethic, among other traits.
“I value team players. I value kids that want to get better, that don’t take things for granted, don’t expect handouts, and they don’t expect things to happen. They work at it to make it happen.”
He gives credit to his team this year, saying they’ve been a great team to work with, and jokes, “I’ve told them: If you can make it through a season without running for disciplinary reasons, it’s a pretty good group.”
How does the coaching staff put so much time and effort into their team? It’s about love for the game.
“I can say that I know myself and our coaching staff enjoys every day,” Coach Upp explained. “You have to really love the game, and we all played. Coaching is an extension of playing and helping the kids get better.”