HAMLET — As students file into Oregon-Davis schools to start the new year they will see a new face in the gym as a teacher and head basketball coach, but he’s hardly a strange face to the area.
Matt Crawford will take over the helm of the Bobcat basketball program this season — his first as a head coach — but the new boss has ties to the area. Matt’s father Steve is a Plymouth High School grad and basketball stand out, and Matt himself spent his early years at Plymouth before moving on to Northridge High School and Goshen College. Assistant coaching stops at Brownsburg, Lowell and Crown Point have prepared Crawford for a program of his own.
Time with coach Stan Daugherty at Goshen College was also a learning experience.
“If you want to be a coach you have to be a teacher,” said Crawford. “You need to be showing them things that they will use as they enter their lives.
“Coach Daugherty’s door was always open to come in and talk about life if you wanted to and that really hit home with me. You have to prioritize things — your family, your grades, your athletics. To be successful in life you have to have those priorities in place.”
Crawford will teach elementary and junior high Physical Education along with classes at the high school. It’s a job he’s looking forward to.
“It’s exciting because I’m going to get to know all the kids in school from youngest to oldest,” he said. “They’re going to get to know me as more than just their basketball coach and I’m going to get a great opportunity to get to know them all the way through their school years.”
Crawford has already gotten to know one community member — his assistant coach Nathan Ferch a member of Oregon-Davis final four runs.
“It’s really great to have him as an assistant, he’s already been a huge help,” said Crawford. “He knows the game and he knows the community. He’s already made a big difference.”
“I guess the short term goal is to put a foundation in place and really answer the question ‘What is Oregon-Davis basketball?’ They’ve been very successful here but there have also been some ups and downs. I want our guys to be a part of something and really learn to play for that guy next to them.
“Long term if I look back ten years from now and see the guys that have played for me being successful in their careers, successful as fathers and husbands and making positive contributions in the community because of something they learned playing basketball that’s really why you get into it.”