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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jay & Lori Hatch- Two Coaches in One House

Jay and Lori Hatch share an interesting basketball background. Both of them were successful as high school athletes and then as college athletes. Lori was an All-American player on a National Championship team, while playing for William Penn. Both then coached in the Quad Cities. Lori was a successful head coach at Bettendorf, Jay at Alleman.

So far you may be saying this is interesting but you can probably think of other former athletes who got married, or of coaches who are married. But there is more to the story-- both of them have coached teams to State Championships. Lori was an assistant coach when Bettendorf took second on three occasions, then she took over as head coach and they won the Iowa State Title. Jay has coached a State Champ in both girls basketball and in softball. Tell me you know some other couples who have both coached teams to a State Championship- wow!

Jay and Lori are married and now have two daughters. Jay still teaches and coaches at Alleman, Lori is not coaching now but teaching at Bettendorf.

I have gotten to know both of them, and have always enjoyed my conversations with them. They have been good to me, and to my family. Yesterday Allen took off on an overnight deal, and the Nike bag he took with his name on it was a present he got from the Hatches when he was 2 days old.

In the time I have coached in the WB6, I am sure that Jay and/or Rod Leatherman would have the longest tenures. Obviously when you compete against people for as long as we have competed there are times you really don’t want to talk. But one of the great things about getting to know other coaches is, they can relate to what you are going through- they have been there. Jay has been one of my “therapists” for many years. I really appreciate his honesty in our conversations.

I wanted to ask Jay and Lori about how it works with two coaches in the same house, and with two daughters involved in sports.

Massey- Both of you played basketball at high levels, could you describe?

Jay - I played at Augustana for four years. I was a JV player for my freshman year, JV/Varsity my sophomore year, Varsity for my junior and senior years.

Lori - I played at William Penn for four years. I didn't play a whole lot my freshmen year, but from that point on I was a starter. My senior year I was an All-American. We won the National Championship (AIAW Division II) in my Junior year. We were 43-3 that year and we took 3rd on two other occasions.

Massey- With Jay still coaching, is it ever hard having another coach at home when you come home after a tough game? How much basketball do you talk?

Jay - In general, it is very positive to have another coach at home. Especially one who you know will give you exactly what they are thinking with no agenda whatsoever. However, there are times when she tells me things I don't want to hear. For example, if we give up 13 3s to a team, she will point out that we need to do a better job of guarding the perimeter. We talk a lot of basketball, almost every day during the season.

Lori - When I was coaching it was similar. You don't like hearing a critique of your team, but once you get over that, it is the best information you can have, because you know it's an honest assessment- even when the truth isn't pretty.

Massey- How hard is it to be a former coach and watch a team playing and not say things, or to not be able to go to practice?

Lori- The not being able to go to practice part is not hard, when I don't have an emotional attachment. So, when I go to an Alleman game or watch our kids, it's a little more difficult because you want those you care about to do well. With our kids, I know what they are capable of and when I think they aren't living up to their potential, it drives me nuts. With Jay's team - I know how hard he and his kids work and I know what the game plan is, so when you see it not unfolding, it is tough to take sometimes.

Massey- You have two daughters who are now playing age. What have the two of tried to instill in the girls as basketball players? What have you made a concerted effort not to do with the girls? I think people put extra pressure on coach's kids, is there double pressure when both are coaching?

Both- The first most important thing is to compete all the time. Playing hard is something that you can control. To be coachable is also something we have tried to instill in them. Analyzing situations in games is something else we have tried to do with them. In other words, teaching them that they can learn from all games, win or lose. We have tried to NOT force them to play any sport, especially basketball, just because it is our passion doesn't mean it will be theirs. We have tried to make sure they have some sort of balance in their lives between sports, academics, social lives, etc. The girls don't see Lori as a coach, as she quit coaching when Emily was born. To her, they are mom who coaches Erin's team. They see Jay as a coach.

Massey- I always wished that I would have played for my dad, but he was retired before I got to high school. My brother coached his son in junior high basketball, and my nephew feels his dad was tougher on him. My niece seemed to enjoy playing for her dad. What do you think, would either of you want to coach your daughters in high school? If one of you coached your own daughters, which of you then would be the worst parent for the other as coach to deal with?

Both- Jay wants to coach his daughters in high school, I think I have been coaching other people's children for all these years, why not my own? Lori is concerned that the daughter/parent relationship can be lost in the coach/player relationship. If Lori were their coach, Jay would be the worst parent for her to deal with as opposed to the other way around. Lori has already had practice with the dynamic as Jay has coached Emily in softball.

Massey- Would it ever work for the two of you to coach a team together? Who would have to be the assistant coach?
Both- It depends who you ask. Jay thinks it is possible, Lori is not convinced. We sort of had a little practice at this, this summer in an AAU situation with our youngest daughter's team. It went pretty well. I don't think we would care who the head coach was, Lori doesn't want to be the head coach, so Jay sort of gets the job by default. As far as coaching together, it won't happen until at least the kids are gone to college, because too much stuff would go undone at home if we were both coaching.

Massey- Which of you has more trouble with refs?

Both- We both want officials to be consistent and to know the rules. When we feel like that doesn't happen, then we have problems. But, in general, we have both felt like at times we spend too much time worrying about officials to the detriment of our coaching. If we are spending our time worrying about what they are doing, our team will do the same instead of playing the game.

Massey- Why Alleman? Obviously you could have made more money teaching and coaching at a public school. What is it about Alleman and a private school that has kept you there?

Jay- I came to Alleman for the old-fashioned reason - they were willing to hire me! I have stayed for so long because I enjoy the atmosphere. I did leave for one year to go to my high school (Valley High School, West Des Moines, IA). I didn't feel like it was the right situation for me and was lucky enough to be able to come back to Alleman and resume teaching. I think there is a family atmosphere at the school. I have been around long enough to have been fortunate to teach and coach sisters, cousins, and am starting to get into daughters of kids I have coached. (That's a bit depressing, by the way).

Massey- Both of you have coached teams in the state championship game. How special are those memories?

Lori - It's the pinnacle of coaching, it's what everyone strives to achieve. I was especially humbled to think about all the great coaches I knew and respected that didn't have the experience. You have to be lucky and have the right players and just a whole series of circumstances go your way. In our situation, we had had great teams and finished 2nd on three occasions.

Jay - I remember that it meant a lot more to me because Lori and the girls were there to share it. All the time you put in to coaching is always worth it, but it was particularly so, when you get to feel like you have just shown how hard your program has worked.
Both - We both felt like we were accomplishing something not just for ourselves and that particular team but also for all those players that had come through the program in the past.

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