A baseball diamond and a football field have been homes away from home for the Schellinger family for four decades.

It only makes sense they would celebrate Father's Day at a game.

"We've done it in the past. Actually, it was a Sox-Yankees game before, too," said Mark Schellinger, whose wife Heidi, their four boys and brothers Robby and Kevin will join dad, Bob, and mom, Lorri, this afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. "Sometimes, it's a round of golf. It always centers around sports."

The Schellinger kids -- Tricia, Rob, Mark, Kevin and Danny -- were raised around football and baseball. Bob coached both sports at South Central before coming to La Porte in 1993. He was the Slicers' football coach the next 22 years and also spent time on the baseball staff.

"It's all we knew," said Mark, the baseball coach at New Prairie. "Going all the way back to South Central, we lived out there. Once he came home to La Porte, I was out there every day after school. Coach (Ken) Schreiber allowed us to be around, to ride the bus. It was fun to be around my dad, the players. Not everybody has the opportunity to grow up at the field. I loved it. It was just about spending time with our dad. As a kid, you took it for granted. Sports grew to be a central part of our relationship and it still is."

All four boys played football for Bob at La Porte. Rob, the oldest son, was a quarterback.

"It definitely wasn't easier," Rob said of having his dad for a coach. "At practice, in a game, it was player and coach. At home, it was more father and son. As any high school kid, you don't appreciate it at the time. Later on, when you sit back and reflect, it was special to go to practice and your dad would be there, too. Other players were apart from their families for those two, three hours. You got to spend more time with him that they didn't have."

In contrast to most boys, who have their dad as a coach before high school, the Schellingers didn't have their dad as their coach until high school. That didn't mean they missed out on time with him as kids.

"Growing up the son of a coach, that's all we knew, going to a (football) game every Friday night in the fall, then (baseball) in the spring, too," Rob said. "From a couple months old, we were following dad around. We were at the games, on the field, at practices, whatever. You were used to it. It was fun. It just felt natural."

Rob went on to play baseball at Benedictine. A few years later, Mark took his baseball and football talents to Franklin. For both, the decision to take the same career direction as their dad seemed logical.

"I knew as soon as I wasn't playing anymore, what I wanted to do was coach," Mark said. "It was a matter of figuring out when and where it was going to be."

Mark coached at Merrillville before taking over at New Prairie four years ago. Rob is an assistant in baseball and football at La Porte, where he spent 12 years on Bob's staff.

"Seeing what he did, he enjoyed what he did," Rob said. "He allowed us to be a part of it as well, which opened the door for us. We became interested in it and he gave us the chance to pursue it. He never forced any of us one way or the other. He gave us the freedom to make our own decisions, allowed us to do our own thing. Our sister is a teacher and our brothers went the business route. It just so happens we went that direction. Following in his footsteps, taking the same path, it was a way to stay in the game."

With four sons between the ages of 7 and 1 1/2 (Colton, Boyd, Titus and Ripley), Mark has also followed the course as a dad. His boys are fixtures at New Prairie baseball games.

"It's a good place to grow up, to raise kids," Mark said. "Getting a program of my own, we talk about being a family within the program. The boys spend a lot of time there. Being away so much, having a wife who is active in the program makes it easier. We have other coaches who have kids as well, and we encourage them to bring the kids. They're just not around as much as ours."

Though Bob retired from coaching, he remains active in basketball and baseball as an umpire, and Mark's quick to refer to his expertise.

"Things will come up and we'll talk about it," Mark said. "Chances are he's been through something similar, so it's good to go to him for advice."

As the family celebrates Father's Day at a baseball game, Mark and Rob are particularly appreciative of the connection they share with their dad.

"Our schedules are so busy, Sundays are always a day we get together anyway," Rob said. "Over the years, we've been to Cubs games, Sox games. There'll be cookouts at the house. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to experience what we did, for it to turn out the way it has. It's something not everybody gets to do, or some do and it doesn't go very well. I'm lucky to have him as a dad. It's a special day, as it is with any father-son relationship, but especially for us with how it ties in with sports."

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