By Chris Faulkner
It’s not uncommon for a father to want his son to follow in his footsteps.
Chris Chiprez, head baseball coach for Notre Dame, coached his son Drew for most of his childhood, and Drew recently served as an assistant for his dad for a couple of seasons.
But on Tuesday, May 30, Chris Chiprez went head-to-head against his son, who is the new varsity baseball coach for Danville.
Notre Dame won that battle 12-1.
For that special matchup, Drew said, “At first I was more focused on my player, going through the infield and outfield.
“Early in the game, I looked over (to the Notre Dame dugout) when I was at third base,” Drew said. “I looked over at my dad, and I thought, ‘This is awesome.’”
Baseball is an emotional game anyway, Drew said, “and he had coached me for so long.”
So Drew was “trying to implement what he taught me and what other coaches have taught, trying to put a loss in his column. Even though he is my dad, I still wanted to beat him.”
For Chris, “It was special. Being able to coach my son from T-ball on up, and then being able to coach him at Notre Dame and then having him on my coaching staff the last two years to coaching against him, you can’t ask for more than that.”
Drew graduated in 2020 and then played a year at Southeastern Community under Coach Justin Schulte, who had just gotten done guiding the Blackhawks to a national runner-up spot in the NJCAA World Series.
Drew finished his associate’s degree and transferred to Iowa to get a degree in education.
“It’s been a struggle,” Drew said, of coaching a high school team that has a preseason that begins while college is still in session.
Chris, also a Notre Dame graduate, has coached the Nikes the past eight seasons and coached his son Carson, who graduated last year.”
It wasn’t until after his baseball career ended that Drew thought of becoming a coach.
“I learned a lot from (Chris), and I learned a lot from Justin Schulte,” he said. “They both inspired me to teach the game the right way, to teach the players what quality baseball looks like.”
Drew also coached with Ron Walker in the Perfect Game League. Walker recently finished a coaching stint at Fort Madison High School, where he turned that program around.
Drew helped the two seasons under his father and then decided, “I think it’s time I try to bring this style of coaching to another program.”
Chris had called him when he heard the Danville job was open, and Drew took on the challenge.
It’s been eight years since the Bears have had a winning season (14-11), and they’ve averaged four victories a year since.
But Chris has confidence in his son and said Drew is already more knowledgeable than he was when he started out.
“He is mature beyond his years,” Chris said. “He always has been. He’s got a very high baseball IQ. He’s got a very good knowledge of the game. He helped a majority of our guys as our infield coach and hitting coach.”
Drew said he wants to change the baseball culture at Danville, which he defined as, “buying into the program,” and not just what goes on between the chalk lines on the baseball diamond.
“Knowing the sport goes well beyond just the baseball field,” he said. “We preach day in and day out helping out in your community and your school.”
On or off the field, “Taking pride in doing the little things right. Knowing that it’s going to be tough and a lot of work. There’s been a lot of changes in the last 5-6 months. I think these players responded well.”
The young Bears need encouragement so he tells them, “‘I don’t expect perfection.’ You keep feeding them positive thoughts.
“I learned it from my dad: You get a 3 out of 10 on a test and you fail. You hit (a baseball) 3 out of 10 and you’re in the Hall of Fame,” Drew said. “It’s a very difficult sport. It will continue to find any way to make you fail. Are you going to hang your head or pick yourself up and go on to the next play?”