Brief interviews with Pat Hansen’s coaching staff
The Laurel Outlook recently spoke to Laurel High School Locomotives’ basketball freshman coach, Bobby Anderson; sophomore coach Bob Ouren; volunteer coach Jake Miller; and JV coach Steve Willis about life before the end of high school and the golden standard of the LHS basketball program.
Robert Anderson is currently a student at Rocky Mountain College and coaches the Laurel freshman basketball team.
1. Why did you choose to coach? “Ever since I was little I knew I wanted to coach basketball. I would say the love and passion I have for the game and being able to share that same passion with kids is why I chose to coach.”
2. What is your fondest memory of the varsity group playing now? Did you coach any of them? “That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t think I can just pick one. I have been around these guys since they were fifth and sixth graders so I would say just to be able to see them grow as basketball players and young men has been pretty fun to watch.”
3. What are the challenges of teaching such young incoming freshman? “I think the biggest challenge of coaching young kids is to never assume they already know what you are talking about. It can be easy for a coach to assume his or her players have already been taught a certain way or certain things. It is extremely important for me as a freshmen coach to make sure they know and understand the fundamentals of the game of basketball. At the end of the day my job is to get them ready for Coach Willis and Coach Hansen, so it’s important that they know how to do the little things before they get to them.”
4. Can you tell which kids at such a young age, freshman are going to be talented when they get older? Do you see signs of it that early? “For the most part you can tell which ones are going to be talented in the future. However, it comes down to how much time that individual is willing to work on his or her game in the offseason. Hard work and dedication will lead to success.”
5. What are your freshmen most passionate about coming into high school? Or are they more scared of the new environment? “I’m sure at the beginning they are a little scared, I think that’s common. I think overall though the freshmen are just excited to finally be a part of the high school program. Those dreams and goals of winning a state championship are closer than ever for them and I believe with that in mind they are excited to get their shot at it.”
Bobby Ouren is the coach of the Locomotives sophomore basketball team. Bobby was born and raised in Townsend, Mont. He graduated from Carroll College in 1996 and has been married to his wife Jill for 17 years. He loves golf and horse racing.
Bobby taught math and coached in Miles City and Laurel for a combined total of 34 years. Since he retired in 2010, he has continued to be an assistant basketball coach and drive the school van, delivering inter-school mail and the school meals.
1. Why did you choose to coach? “I chose to coach so I could have a positive impact on kids. Those that play sports learn discipline, teamwork and the fundamentals of life and carry these values into the rest of their lives.”
2. What is your philosophy on developing the young minds of your student/athletes? “We need to teach kids how to think, not tell them what to think. Good choices go a long way towards achieving good results.”
3. What is your fondest memory of the varsity group playing now? Did you coach any of them? “I have been involved in coaching almost all of them. Although I have fond memories of the whole team, I am most indebted to four of the varsity players. When I was at my weakest point, going through chemo and radiation, Braden Ewalt, Shay Osborne, Christian Jones and Layne Willis came to our home and stacked a winter’s worth of hay in the barn and also mowed and got rid of all of the weeds to help us catch up. This told me how special this group of young men really are.”
4. Did you notice early signs of chemistry with the group of boys who are playing varsity now? “Not all of them have played all four years of basketball together in high school, but the chemistry has grown practice by practice and game by game, during this season.”
5. Why do you think boys that come through your school’s basketball program have been so successful? “Our program runs on high expectations, fundamentals and discipline. We continually stress the importance of self discipline, as it relates to being successful in basketball and life.”
Jake Miller works as an operator at ExxonMobil and volunteers to help coach the Laurel Locomotives.
1. Why did you decide to volunteer to help this team? “I like bonding with the coaches and players and helping the players get better.”
2. What are your hopes and aspirations for tourney play for your varsity squad? “Hopefully they will start hitting their stride and start playing their best basketball and ultimately win a state title.”
3. Did you play for LHS? “Yes I played point guard for four years in basketball and running back in football for four years for LHS.”
4. What is your fondest memory of your days in high school as an athlete? “Winning a state title in basketball my senior year in 2010.”
Steve Willis is the coach of the JV squad and also a school psychologist with the Yellowstone-West Carbon County Special Services Cooperative which serves schools in Yellowstone County and Carbon County.
1. Why did you choose to coach? “As a graduate of Laurel High School I want to have a positive influence on the student athletes in our community by helping them to value hard work, to develop individual skills and characteristics that help maintain a culture of success, and to become responsible adults who consistently value the success of the team over individual achievement. This is my 14th year of coaching basketball in Laurel. Bruce Robertson, my varsity coach at LHS, gave me my first opportunity to coach middle school boys and then sophomore boys a couple years later. When Pat Hansen was hired to guide the program 12 years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to work with him and learn from the hardest working high school basketball coach in the state of Montana. Coach Hansen has shared not only his basketball knowledge with me, but he also has provided his assistant coaches with a gold-standard model of how to build a consistently successful high school basketball program.”
2. What is your philosophy on building the young minds of student athletes? “Our basketball program preaches the virtues of hard work, loyalty, and family. We believe that if you develop good habits through consistent effort you will be successful not only in basketball, but also in your school work and in life.”
3. What is your fondest memory of the varsity group playing now? Did you coach any of them? “I have a special connection with our seniors on the team this year, not only because Layne is my son, but also because I have coached them since they were in the fifth grade. The friendships and the bond they developed as members of the Locomotive Express have carried into their high school years and I couldn’t be prouder of the fine young men these seniors have become. My fondest memory of this group can’t be confined to a specific event, my fondest memory of them continues to grow each day in practice, with every win and loss of this season, and with every shared moment and laugh we have on a daily basis.”
4. What is one major skill you try to implement in you athletes to prepare them for the varsity level? “To play at the varsity level in our program an athlete must develop the mental toughness to perform at a high level. Our program strives to build this mental toughness by exposing them to challenging practice situations in the middle school years all the way up to the varsity level.”
5. What separates your coaching staff from other schools? “The clear answer to this question is Pat Hansen, the hardest working high school basketball coach in the state of Montana. His leadership, his work ethic and his philosophy has impacted this coaching staff, this basketball program and this community in so many positive ways.”
6. How do you feel about next year’s varsity team? “I feel a sense of excitement with every new basketball season. We have a very talented junior varsity team this year who will continue to be successful basketball players, students and citizens. Each team we have coached is uniquely different and maybe the best thing about coaching is discovering the unique characteristics of each player, the thing that makes them special, as a player and more importantly as a person.”