La PORTE – Greg Fruth simply loves to make a difference in people’s lives.
Few individuals throughout the history of the community of La Porte are better known as a blend of athlete, coach, teacher, and Good Samaritan than Fruth.
Fruth was a three-year letterwinner in football as an offensive lineman and one-year letterwinner in track. In football, he played on the 1966 team, which is arguably one of the best in Slicers history. This squad was ranked No. 1 in the state for two weeks. In addition, he played for two years at Upper Iowa University. In 1965, he earned the Best Blocker Award and was tabbed honorable mention All-Conference.
For his influence in an array of roles, Fruth was one of six people inducted into La Porte High School’s Norm Hubner Athletic Hall of Fame on Jan. 31, along with Denny Mantick, Mark Manering, Elena Lancioni, Dick Hostetler and Eddie Dubbs.
“This is unexpected,” Fruth said. “I’m telling everybody, ‘When I played for La Porte, not once did I go on the field and face 11 other people. There were teammates. When I coached, I never stood on the sideline by myself. Other coaches, the players, the managers were with me.’ The way I look at this is, because football is the most intricate team sport there is, when you honor one player from that team, you honor the whole team.”
Fruth had an exceptional will to win to defeat his opponent.
His prep coach, the iconic Stan Klimczak, said at the time that Fruth took a “fiendish delight in hitting his opponents.” As a result, Klimczak gave him the nickname “Crazy Man.” Fruth had various coaches who impacted both his playing and coaching careers: Klimczak, Bob Hoke, Dick Deardurff, Jack Allen, Wayne Graffis, Larry McKeever and Ken Schreiber, to name a few. At the same time, he believed his parents were his greatest asset.
Besides his playing career, Fruth also coached football for 28 years from seventh grade up to high school varsity. The amount of players he dramatically affected from his coaching is staggering.
He said the most memorable moment from his Slicers football playing career was garnering the No. 1 ranking in Indiana and staying in contact with a lot of those teammates today.
“We still are the only La Porte team who was ranked No. 1, for two weeks,” Fruth said.
“Until these two fast running backs from South Bend Washington came in. But we’re the only team to do that, so we can still hold that mantle. And the guys I played with, we were such a team, we were such a unit. That’s what gave us the success we had. And now, we’re still so close. Guys are everywhere, but we’re still close.”
Fruth is a member of the Slicer Football Association Hall of Fame as well. He can be seen today dashing around town with his datebook en route to his next volunteer assignment.
Fruth and his wife, Maria, have three sons, Alex, Eric, and Kevin, along with four grandchildren.