Editorial: Coach Hansen showed us the way

By Coach Pedersen  |   April 2, 2015, 6:48 p.m.

What is a coach? The good ones are coaches first and friends second. The main purpose is for your coach to push you as hard as they can so you have a chance to reach your potential. If they don't do this then they quite frankly are letting the athlete down. I have seen the "let's be buddies" coaches come and go and normally their teams underachieve, which is a total rip off to the students.

Roger Hansen was our high school coach. A ton of what he taught his players still exists in the football program today.

Coach Hansen came to West Branch to teach junior high Science/PE and coach high school football. To say he was about to build a culture of discipline and toughness is an understatement. He made it clear he was going to build the program his way. His first team was soon going to find out that mental toughness and physical toughness would be a trademark for his teachings.If you were not tough enough to be a football player you needed to go somewhere else. His first squad had close to 50 players and finished with 13 or 14, but they were the toughest "Hansen Kids" in the school.

As each year played out, the program became stronger. The practices Coach put us through were brutal. We simply were the best conditioned team in the state. He drove us mentally and physically to reach our full potential. He molded us into a family, which all great teams must have. We were a family that had each other's backs.We were HANSEN'S BOYS and we were proud of it. We were to get our grades, respect all people, but we were to never fear anyone.

Coach Hansen would bus us to the country farm fields to practice. These fields had a creek running through it, were usually oats fields and had a hill we got to know. One favorite field was called THE PATCH. We ran hills, piggy backed hills, crabbed hills, wheelbarrowed hills. The hills became our friend as it made us rather tough compared to other schools. When we laid down to do leg lifts in the oats, the coaches had trouble finding us in the stubble. When we did drills near the creek, the weaker players would tumble into the water if they didn't beat their teammate in that drill.

Our practices were organized to make us tough and mentally prepared for the teams we were about to play. Frankly, when we played games they were easy compared to our practices.

Coach Hansen let us know he and his staff would punish us if we made mental mistakes. Broken clipboards and coffee cups were to be found on our practices fields. This was part of discipline and we needed this training if we were to reach our full potential as a team.

In school we were to be the role models for our peers. We were polite to our classmates and showed respect to our teachers. Science class with Coach was fun and exciting. We learned the basics of the class and completed difficult assignments in a timely manner. The key here was to be very quiet on football game days as coach was soon to be on a focused mission. In PE, we were challenged. Exercises were tough and then it was time to march. Coach would take us outside and put us in formation. We then would march down the alley by the football field and onto the Little Rose Bowl. We were HANSEN'S BOYS WORKING ON DISCIPLINE AT ITS FINEST.

Game night was filled with chalk talks and then the lights in Hoover Gym were turned off and it was focus time, no words were spoken. Pre-game time came next. We were taken out on the elementary playgrounds and and we had a live scrimmage for a half an hour. Then to the top of the football stairs and onto the football field to represent our community in a positive manner.

Coach Hanse was his own man. As players we respected what he was doing and worked our tails off in order to not disappoint him and his staff.We were Coach Hansen's players and he was proud of us. If Coach went to a QUARTERBACK CLUB  mtg and he felt questions that were being asked were out of line from the fathers or men of the community that meeting was over. If a parent tried to argue with him about a topic the conversation as short and direct. Coach was loyal to his players and staff first and foremost. He also was loyal and kind to the members of the community who were open and honest to him.The rest of the people were not relevant to him.

Coaches best teaching skills were with his CORE KIDS.These were kids who really did not want to be in school. He put these kids under his wing, kept them out of trouble and taught them life skills that would help them become responsible and worthwhile citizens. Coach was perfect for these kids

Coach Hansen let us know he was going to yell at us. He made it clear it was not personal but a honor to get barked at by him or his staff. If you didn't get yelled at you were in trouble in that the coaches weren't really looking at you very much. He also would put his arm around you, look into your eyes and let you know you were special to him.

I for one feel honored to be coached by Coach Hansen. We all are better people because of the experiences we had with football. We all have tons of stories about football with Coach Hansen. We remember his sharp whistle, his coffee cup, his passion for the game, his strict standards that we were held to, his dedication to his players, his courage to stand up to the "downtown quarterbacks" that had all of the answers but never had the courage to get into the arena when the action started. You all know it so very easy to coach in the bleachers or to coach after a play is called that might not have worked.

In those days, discipline was much different than it is today. That is why some of the strategies you see in the current program are similar to those used by Coach Hansen. Be accountable for your mistakes, work to your full capabilities on each play, never be an ALIBI IKE. We have found the players that have had the most success in our program understand what it takes to be disciplined. They are coachable and care for their teammates. Those are life skills we all need to be successful in life. If all we do as coaches is teach football we certainly fail our players. You need to remember when we push our players it's because we love them and want them to be as good as they can be. The sickest thing a coach can ever hear from a player after he graduates is why didn't you push me harder to reach my potential?

Coach Hansen showed us the way.