Greg Dikos has long considered baseball at Penn High School a family affair.
So it was fitting that 30 folks — blood relatives, current and former assistant coaches, administrators and friends — were on hand Friday night in Indianapolis to see the Penn High School head baseball coach become the 150th inductee into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
There they were — wife Sally, sons Garrick and Greg (with daughter-in-law Jackie) and daughter Sarah — and so many more.
Shawn Summe, the starting catcher on Dikos’ first state championship team in 1994 and a close friend to this day, took a few days away from his job as head coach at Ave Maria (Fla.) University to celebrate with his mentor and to introduce him at the banquet.
Summe said he went into coaching as his livelihood because of Dikos, the man who has three state titles and 521 victories in 23 varsity seasons on Bittersweet Road.
Crunching the numbers, Summe figured out that his class was responsible for 22 percent of Dikos’ 202 losses and wonders why he has signed just two Penn players in 13 years as a college coach.
“Those first three years were rough, but that senior year was great,” said Summe.
Summe lauded Dikos for his work ethic, intensity, upbeat approach and sense of community.
“He showed up to the field every single day with enthusiasm and a plan that gave us a chance to win as many games as possible,” said Summe. “He had the philosophy that mediocrity in unacceptable.”
“(His) tenacity to stay after it is something that is not lost on (his) players. Each day he challenged us to do something better than the way we did it the day before and to never be satisfied.
“Because of him, former players have become better men, better husbands, better fathers and better employees.”
Dikos, a 1975 graduate of Swartz Creek High School near Flint, Mich., credits his coaches — in all sports — for making him what he is today.
“I can never express adequately the positive influence all my former coaches had on me,” said Dikos. “My goal each year is to have that same positive influence on every player in my program.”
Bob Rickel, Dikos’ coach at Ball State University, gave him the opportunity to play pro baseball (in the Atlanta Braves organization) and to earn a college degree before getting a job as a teacher and coach.
Dikos calls his predecessor at Penn, Chuck Wegner, a “brilliant” baseball mind whose systems he still uses — with slight modifications — after three decades.
The signals are still the same.
“Everyone knows my signs except by own players,” said Dikos.
Tom Csenar and Jim Kominkiewicz were assistants on Dikos’ first staff and “Kommo” is still with him. They were among those sharing the moment.
Calling the Hall of Fame induction, “the most cherished award I will ever receive in my coaching career,” Dikos said he has always put the group first.
“I’ve always preached team goals,” said Dikos. “If you take care of team goals, individual awards will follow. I’m looking at this as a team award because it never would have happened without the entire Penn baseball family.”
Dikos thanked all the members of his actual family in attendance as well as three administrators there to share in the moment — Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker, Penn principal Steve Hope and Penn athletic director Ben Karasiak.
Hall of Fame coaches Jim Reinebold, Len Buczkowski and Dick Siler were in the Northern Indiana Conference when Dikos began his career and he is grateful that they allowed a young coach to pick their brains.
“One of the things I love most about coaching is the friendly but intense rivalries with these coaches that I have a mutual respect for,” said Dikos.