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Jason Bogner didn’t hesitate when his father, John, told him Chesterton needed a baseball coach after Jack Campbell retired last year.Jason Bogner not only advised his father to take the job after 27 seasons in Highland’s program. The Highland senior-to-be also said he would go too.“He went and took on a challenge that no other kid in the country would do on their own choice, leaving all their friends behind and going to be a great leader,” John Bogner said. “Very admirable.”John Bogner, who is a math teacher, said he wouldn’t have “made the move” unless Jason was willing to transfer for his senior year.“Two things went through my head,” Jason Bogner said. “One, leaving my friends and the school aspect. At that point, I knew I wouldn’t have (Advanced Placement) calculus here, so I was like, ‘Ooh, maybe they’ll have calculus there and I can get that done.’
“The second aspect was bigger town, bigger school, better talent. With him and better talent, we can do some damage. So my second thought was, ‘Let’s go do something.’”Well, Chesterton (18-5, 10-3) has been doing something in the Bogners’ first season there. Going into the second game of a Duneland Athletic Conference series against Portage on Wednesday, Chesterton had won 17 of 18 after a 1-4 start and was tied for second place with Lake Central behind Valparaiso.Jason Bogner is one of the reasons for that success. Getting the most pitching work of his career, he was 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA, 22 strikeouts and just five walks in 16 innings.Jason Bogner, who started at third base during the previous two years at Highland and still plays the position when he isn’t pitching, was batting .316 with 13 RBIs through Tuesday. He called his hitting “iffy” after he batted .356 with 20 RBIs last year.But he noted his ability to get on base and get into scoring position. He has 25 walks and a .523 on-base percentage. He also said his defense has been sharpest this season.Chesterton’s Jason Bogner stays on his toes as a Highland player bats during a game in Chesterton on Saturday, May 11, 2024. (Vincent D. Johnson / Post-Tribune)It’s probably not a coincidence that Jason Bogner dedicated more time to baseball during the offseason. He had played football at Highland but decided not to continue this school year.“Duneland football’s a whole different beast than NCC football,” he said with a laugh.Instead, he focused on his preparation for the baseball season. He said he’s in better condition, having lifted weights “a lot more,” and is throwing harder after participating in a dedicated long-toss program for the first time.Jason Bogner did everything he could to make an impression at Chesterton from the outset.“When I first got there, the first couple of summer practices, I had to show I’m not just coach’s kid, I’m a pretty good player,” he said. “Most players will look up to the better players. I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, but I think I proved myself to those guys early.“From the start, everyone treated me like we’ve been teammates forever and listened to me. They made it easy. Everyone was great and really welcoming.”Indeed, Jason Bogner’s contributions to Chesterton extend beyond his statistics.“I thought it would take three to four years to buy in, and it took three to four months — that’s the whole staff and 60 kids in the program,” John Bogner said. “It helps having Jason because he’s like a seventh coach. He knows what would trigger me, and he just makes sure none of that happened. He’s a great leader. It’s a work ethic. He’s worked his butt off for everything he’s gotten. He’s always been a grinder.”The Bogners still reside in Highland. Before, Jason Bogner could roll out of bed and get to school in, oh, about three minutes. Now they’re making the most of the back-and-forth commute of about 25 minutes together.Jason Bogner joked that most of their conversations take place later in the day because “in the morning, I kind of just stare and sleep with my eyes open.”“It’s time to bond with him,” he said. “Postgame talks in the car are always good. I originally thought the drive was going to be terrible. Even the Chesterton people I talk to about living here, they think I’m crazy, like I live 45 minutes away. It’s only 23 or 24 minutes. So it’s not bad at all.”John Bogner quipped that the “nice little drive” has afforded him time to think that he didn’t have before.“Some days we don’t say anything,” he said. “Some days we just listen to his music. I’m getting to learn a lot of what he likes to listen to. Some days we’ll talk the entire way there. Some days he’ll Snapchat and do all his stuff and get caught up. He’s like, ‘Man, I blinked, and I’m here.’ I’m like, ‘You probably just went through a thousand snaps.’ You never know what you’re missing when you’re sleeping.“I can already imagine how much I’m going to miss him next year. It’s good quality time that most people don’t get to have with their kid.”Jason Bogner is planning to attend Purdue and study finance. He took his AP calculus test Monday and likes his chances of scoring a 5, the highest possible. He certainly prepared diligently.“He spent hours watching AP calc videos on YouTube,” John Bogner said. “Friday night, and your senior is sitting there watching AP calc, they must’ve done something right in the Bogner house.”Jason Bogner, left, transferred from Highland to Chesterton after his father, John, made that move as coach. (Michael Osipoff / Post-Tribune)Despite the success on the field so far, John Bogner said the Trojans “haven’t done anything yet.” They open Class 4A Crown Point Sectional play against Kankakee Valley on May 22. Chesterton last won a sectional title in 2018. That was one of the draws for Jason Bogner.“He said, ‘Pack your bags, and let’s go win some ballgames. Let’s go win a sectional,’” John Bogner recalled.Once an assistant under Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Dan Miller at Highland, John Bogner has succeeded another Hall of Famer at Chesterton and has no regrets.“It was a great move,” he said. “The first nine to 10 weeks, I was soul-searching, wondering what the heck I was thinking, just because it was new. And now it feels like I’ve been there a couple of years. Everyone’s made it easy. Sure, you miss the good kids at Highland, and I left a lot of friends here. But they’re friends. So I see them on weekends as much as if it were a regular baseball season anywhere. But I have a whole community behind me.“If there was one percent of my decision that was bad — I wouldn’t even call it bad — it was just the unknown. The unknown is what you fear. But everyone’s been fantastic.”That includes Jason Bogner.“It’s a very different experience,” he said. “Back in Highland, I had the atmosphere of being with my friends. We wanted to win. We tried to win. But here, it’s ‘we need to win.’ If we don’t win, it’s going to be a bad day. Everyone has that mentality.”

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