CHERRY
CHERRY

Coach's Corner is a 'Q' and 'A' featuring the coaches of Hamilton County high schools. This week's volunteer is Fishers varsity baseball head coach Matt Cherry. 

Q: What path did you take to get to get to where you are today as the varsity baseball head coach at Fishers?

A: This is my 12th year at Fishers. I was hired to begin the program in the fall of 2006, coaching in the school’s inaugural season in the spring of 2007. I am the only coach in Tiger Baseball history. We had four losing seasons our first four years, but have built a solid tradition with five winning seasons in the last seven years, including finishing 27-6 in 2017 and winning the school’s first HCC and Sectional Championships. We began last season ranked No. 2 in the IHSBCA Poll and finished the regular season ranked No. 3 before beating No. 1 Carmel in the Sectional Championship. Prior to coming to Fishers, I was the JV coach at Hamilton Southeastern High School for one spring and a volunteer assistant at Pendleton for one spring. I began my coaching career as a freshmen coach at Anderson Highland for one year, and then I returned to the college game where I was an assistant for two seasons under my college coach Dr. Don Brandon at Anderson University. I was on the coaching staff when we finished third at the NCAA Division III National Championships in 2003.

Q: What are your expectations entering this season? It seems you guys have a pretty gifted roster.

A: Yes, we have a very talented group with key guys returning from last year’s regional final team and very talented newcomers who add to the returning core. The guys returning are very hungry to erase the bad taste in their mouth from the regional final loss. They have worked hard and are ready to continue to advance the program deep into the state tournament. As for what will be a successful season — seeing the guys come together as a team and focus on serving their brothers on the team, wanting the next guy to perform better than you so we can be the best team we can be. That will be a successful season, and I believe that brotherhood will lead to success on the field as well. Every year, our team wants to build a family atmosphere, compete in the top half of our conference with an opportunity to win the Hoosier Crossroads Conference and then advance in the state tournament as deep as possible on the way to our ultimate goal of winning a state championship.

Q: What are some of the first steps you take to implement your philosophy and style into the culture? How would you describe your managerial style?

A: In 2006, when I was hired, we worked hard to build a culture of a team first mentality — a culture that is others focused. We pride ourselves on working hard in the classroom, being good role models in the community and playing the game the right way on the field. We have continued to build that culture over the last 11 years. The guys have bought in and do a great job of teaching the “Tiger Way” to the next generation of Tigers. We want our older guys to take ownership in being a Tiger and give them the space to teach the younger guys the “Tiger Way.” On the field, we want to throw hard, pound the zone on the mound, make the routine play routinely on defense, taking every out that the offense will give us — and then offensively, we want to put as much pressure on the opposing defense as possible, taking advantage of miscues by being aggressing and taking extra bases every chance we have. As a coach, I believe I demand excellence of our guys in the classroom, on the field, and in life. We have high expectations for our student-athletes, and we work hard to not allow our guys to settle for anything less than their best effort.

Q: Who is your favorite MLB team? How old were you when you started to like them, and what drew you to the franchise?

A: My favorite MLB team is the Chicago Cubs. I started watching the Cubs when I was old enough to watch TV. They were on WGN every day after the Bozo Show, and I would literally watch almost every game every day during the summer. My favorite player growing up was Mark Grace (that is why I wear No. 17). However, I’ve learned over the years that he was/is not the best role model. I liked how he was not the superstar of those Cubs teams, but he came to work every day and gave his best effort every single day. I also appreciated Cal Ripken growing up. Obviously, he played every day and was one of the all-time greats, but he was so humble in his approach to the game and to life.

Q: If you could go back in time and be present at any past MLB event/moment, which one would you choose? 

A: I would have loved to have lived during the Golden Era of Baseball. Any moment during the 1920s-1960s — back when the teams would take trains from town to town. The best players in the game would barnstorm across the Midwest throughout the off-season. Scouts would sign guys at the craziest of places and send them off to go play. I’d love to have watched some of the greatest players of all-time play, guys like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mantle, Mays, DiMaggio, Stan the Man and many others. I’d love to see the rivalry between the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers before the Dodgers left for Los Angeles.

Q: If you could only vacation in one place the rest of your life, where would you want to spend it?

A: I would love to be in the mountains camping and hiking. It is fun to be in warm weather around water, but I feel like I am able to “get away on vacation” the most when I can be outside taking in God’s beautiful creation in the mountains. I love western U.S. parks like Glacier National Park in northern Montana or Bryce Canyon in Southern Utah. One of my favorite places is Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park in southern Utah.