Concord baseball's catcher Jake Vernon gets his baseball drive from his mother

Jake Vernon's mother, Barbara, has always supported her son's baseball career. When she had a brain aneurysm March 18, it was Jake and the baseball team that came to support her.

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 12:56 p.m.

DUNLAP — Jake Vernon's coaches had never seen him move this fast.

Baseball tryouts were going on at Concord High School's McCuen Gym and suddenly there was John Luse, Jake's grandfather.

"He was kind of shaken up and I wondered why he was there," said Jake, a CHS junior. "He said, 'your mom is at the house and she couldn't get up. We called the ambulance and they are about to take her to the hospital.'"

Jake was a blur as he gathered his things and rushed to see his mother before she was rushed to Elkhart General Hospital.

Barbara Vernon had experienced a brain aneurysm that night of Tuesday, March 18.

"I had a Cherry Bomb explode in my head and passed out," said Barbara, a single mother whose only child is Jake.

When Barbara regained consciousness, she called parents John and Carol. The next thing she knew, she was in a hospital bed with her son supporting her and his teammates and coaches, including Concord head coach Jim Treadway, supporting the young man who would soon be the starting catcher and a leader for the Minutemen.

"I still get a little choked up about that," says Barbara, who was discharged from Memorial Hospital of South Bend April 2. "It really meant a lot to me. They've been very supportive of Jake through all of this."

Barbara and Jake have always been close — through smooth and rough times.

"It's a pretty cool relationship," said Jake. "She trusts me. I trust her.

"She's really a strong woman in everything she does. She's an amazing mom, an amazing role model."

Jake is proud to say mom is on the mend and heading toward a full recovery.

Barbara's mom, Carol Luse, noted the toughness in her youngest of four children (behind Robin, Cheryl and Jennifer, all Jimtown High School graduates).

"She said, 'You never felt sorry for yourself. You never cried until you found out you were going to miss (Jake's) game," says Barbara.

It's true.

Dating back to T-ball, Barbara had never missed one of her son's baseball games until her health prevented her from being there.

Barbara does all she can to help Jake be at his best.

"She's really no-nonsense," said Jake. "She wants for me to be serious about baseball. She knows that baseball is a fun game to play, but she knows my goals and where I want to go in baseball, so she keeps me on the right track. I do want to play (NCAA) D-I baseball."

Jake plays summer travel ball with the Indiana Eastlake Chargers, led by Joel Mishler, and receives one-on-one training on Sunday's from former Elkhart Memorial High School and Purdue University catcher Eric Nielsen.

"He's very strong with a very quick bat," said Nielsen. "He's a gap-to-gap hitter that will hit for power. He's very flexible for his size (6-foot-1, 185 pounds).

"He has a business-like approach to baseball. I wish more people had that."

Jake, who carries a 3.3 grade-point average and plans to study exercise science in college, is driven to win — at baseball, cards, board games, whatever.

"I don't like losing," said Jake. "I'm a competitor. That's how I was brought up."

As a single mother, Barbara has always sought out male role models for Jake.

And luckily, there are plenty.

She is glad that Jake has had men like her father, John, an Elkhart County Sports Hall of Famer,  and brother, Robin, a former Jimtown athlete, in the picture.

But there's also Jim Treadway whom he gives credit for building him up; there's Joel Mishler, who guided Jake on athletic approach.

There's Concord assistant baseball coach Jim DeFreese. There's brothers-in-law Chris Perrin Dave Goodmiller, the latter of whom gave Jake one of his first baseball experiences as a batboy when he coached the Summit City Sluggers.

There's Rhett Goodmiller, a cousin and former Norwell High School and Taylor University standout. There's the Chargers coach Ben Bailey.

There's the Concord head trainer Jim Read, who taught him much about anatomy and how to lighten up at school. There's the Concord head boys basketball coach Steve Austin, and finally his strength coach, Dan Gibson

There's mutual respect between Treadway and Jake. 

"Coach Treadway has always believed in me," said Jake. "He is definitely a confidence booster. He's a different breed of coach. He's not one of those rah-rah, get-in-your-face. He's going to tell you what you need to do and if you don't do it, he's going to take you out of the game and talk to you about it."

Treadway talks highly of Jake.

"This is a kid, much like (former Memorial and Bristol American Legion Post 143 player and current Texas Rangers minor leaguer) Ryan Strausborger, that will be playing at the next level one day. He's a fantastic young man."

Before Treadway, Jake learned to follow the advice of Joel Mishler, whom he first met at the former JNZ Baseball and Softball Academy in Shipshewana. Mishler now operates out of the Eastlake Athletic Club in Elkhart.

"Coach Mishler says you 'do everything the way you do anything,'" said Jake. "That means the littlest thing like tying up your cleats. You do it as focused and hard as you would throwing a guy out at second. It all starts when you wake up. It all works its way to the game and when you go to bed at night."

Jake also is a trainer for football and a manager and videographer for boys basketball, but has focused his own athletic efforts on the diamond. The work has paid dividends.

Indiana Prep Baseball Report has Jake ranked No. 3 among catchers in the Class of 2015 and he has received invitations to the Junior and Crossroads showcases and the PBR Top Prospect games this summer at Indiana University.

Through it all, Jake's mother has back.

And he has hers.


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