SPARTA — Coaches and their players usually have a special bond. They spend a lot of time together during a season, getting to know each other almost as well as family.
Tim Belcher and Jim Schoch had that special bond. It was Schoch that pushed Belcher to take the next step in his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball pitcher.
It’s only fitting the two of them are going in together as Highland High School named its introductory class of the Highland Athletic Hall of Fame during a press conference Monday.
“Jim (Schoch) did more than just coach the Xs and Os on the basketball floor and teach us how to play the game,” Belcher said. “I remember a specific conversation I had with Jim, probably weeks, if not months after the basketball season. It occurred in the corner of the gymnasium, probably going to baseball practice. He said, ‘Hey, have you made any plans about college yet?’
“I hem-hawed around, like a lot of kids do. He’s like, ‘You know, you have this dream of going to the next level and playing professional baseball. You’re not going to do it if you don’t go to college.’ ... I only pitched four games my senior year. So, I was thought of a relatively decent infielder that could hit a little bit. I certainly wasn’t someone you considered a pro prospect.
“I remember it very vividly. He said in no uncertain terms, if you don’t act on this now, you’re never going to have a chance to realize that dream. There were moments like that I think more about when I think about Jim than something that happened on the basketball court. That meant a lot more, obviously.”