The Falls City High School baseball team, 28 strong, brought Orange and Black clear across town from Jug Brown Stadium to SNC Field at the Fiedler Family Ball Complex last Friday to usher in some history. Just a week after the end of basketball season, a large crowd gathered for opening day of the first-ever Tiger Baseball season.
FC, one of the smallest schools in Nebraska to participate in baseball, lost 11-1 to Plattsmouth Friday, but rebounded with a stronger effort Saturday in a 9-8 loss to Crete. Despite the scoreboard, it was a victorious weekend, particularly for skipper Kory Huppert, who three years ago spearheaded the effort to bring baseball to FCHS.
“It’s just exciting to be out there playing baseball,” Huppert said. “The guys had fun and I think we did good things both days.”
Huppert, the American Legion Coach during the summer months, along with Rob Craig and Bobby Campbell, first approached School Supt. Tim Heckenlively and the District 56 School Board in the fall of 2012 with a proposal to add boys’ baseball to the list of extra-curricular offerings. By no coincidence, the proposal came in conjunction with the planning of the $2 million ballpark renovation project, which had emerged from the successful fundraising phase and entered the design stage.
“It’s going to happen, so why not get ahead of the curve,” Huppert said at the time. “In my mind, it’s coming. It’s a great opportunity for the kids – why wouldn’t we want to do this?”
While his words would Friday turn prophetic, they weren’t immediately echoed by the BOE, which struck down the proposal a month later, citing, mainly, Title IX compliance concerns, as well as cost and the sport’s impact on track and field and golf.
One year later, a school board reorganized after the 2012 elections was convinced, however. Huppert spoke directly to the members, arguing that FCHS would not jeopardize compliance with Title IX by adding baseball.
Neither Principal Gale Dunkhas nor then-Athletic Director Darwin Palmer necessarily agreed, but nonetheless, a 4-2 vote in November 2013 officially added baseball to the list of boys sports offered at FC High. Board President Scott Hollens made a motion to add baseball and it was seconded by board member Scott Huppert, a cousin to Kory. Following some discussion on the motion, Ed Harris and Tedd Gilkerson agreed (John Martin and Teresa Olberding cast “nay” votes) and baseball became a reality.
Coach Huppert in 2015 is no less exuberant as he was two or three years ago.
“The players are all excited about the opportunity to play baseball this spring – we’ll just need some time to work and build, so we can get our players and team reaching their max potential,” he said.
“As a team, the expectations we have set are to win, win a district championship, and win a state championship. I think that’s the same expectation all of our programs have and programs all across the state have. If we accomplish those, then they’ll be very special moments in these young men’s’ lives; however, there will be many great moments still to come for them, so as a staff, we encourage our players to use baseball as a platform to better themselves as young men and base their success on being a life changer, not a game changer,” he said.
FC High undoubtedly has a very steep hill to climb in terms of winning a state baseball title. The NSAA offers two classifications – A and B – and FCHS is the fourth-smallest school out of 29 in Class B. Only Douglas County West (enrollment 186), Ft. Calhoun (165) and Arlington (136) are smaller than FC (196). Lincoln Pius X (enrollment 849) is the biggest school competing in Class B in 2015. The regular season runs through May 4