CLARK TINDER ‘20 | STAFF WRITER • What is it like to be a coach? Two of our Wabash students, Jon Montoya ‘18 and Hank Horner ‘18, experienced what it’s like to be a coach this past basketball season at Hoover Elementary school. Their goal was simple: have a group of eight fifth graders listen, have fun, and hopefully learn something. These goals may seem simple, but there were challenges along the way.
“I think the hardest part about kids this age is that sometimes they just want to have fun,” Montoya said when asked about the challenge of coaching this age group. “A lot of the guys we had, had never played organized sports that required two hours straight of just practice.”
Horner wanted his kids to learn about what sports could teach them and how the kids would be able to translate sports to life. “You have to understand that for this league and these ages it isn’t about winning games; it’s about teaching the kids the fundamentals of the sport and attempting to improve the character of the kids to show them how sports translate to life,” Horner said.
Horner and Montoya acknowledged that their team was not very talented this season, but that did not stop them from trying to coach the players to the best of their abilities. The coaches were proud of several things. With some of these kids being younger and never playing an organized sport before, emotion would run very high at practices and games. Horner and Montoya recalled the first few weeks of practice while one of them coached the other had to calm down a frustrated kid, but as the season moved on, the tears dried up and the hard work began showing.
The team motto was “work hard” and the kids took it to heart. The team took this motto onto the hardwood and played a gritty and scrappy defense and no matter the score, the team’s defense kept coming at you. The team had an early exit from their post season tournament, and the coaches were worried that the tears and anger could come back, but then the kids showed the coaches what they had learned.
Horner recalls the final game as a proud coaching moment. “At the end of the game, the team came over to the bench and nearly all of our players were saying things like ‘I’m not even mad that we lost,’ ‘I’m sad the season is over, but we gave it our all tonight,’ and even encouraging one another ‘You played hard man, way to leave it all out there.’” Horner said. “This was a huge step from our first loss where we had 8 5th graders bawling their eyes out after we lost the game.” Both Montoya and Horner saw how their kids learned to deal with losing and be proud of what they had accomplished.
Both of these coaches thoroughly enjoyed their coaching experience. Horner and Montoya both loved their time at Hoover Elementary school and said it never got in the way of their time at Wabash. “For two hours a day, I was able to step outside of the Monday-Friday Wabash grind we all know so well and just dedicate myself to something that was equal parts fun and rewarding,” Montoya said. Montoya and Horner were able to make an impact on the youth of Crawfordsville, and they loved every minute of it. Both of these Wabash students were proud to take part in the Crawfordsville community,.