Many Chillicothe-area schools have seen coaching changes this summer. Chillicothe High School’s new boys basketball coach said he’s made it his goal to start a new coaching trend.
Eric Huffer, who accepted his first head coaching job Monday with Chillicothe, said it is his goal to retire after a long career at CHS, mimicking his coach and mentor, Rick Van Matre. Van Matre was hired as a coach at Greenfield McClain and retired 38 years later.
“I wanted to make my mark,” said Huffer, who is 30 years old. “I know my desire is to be here long-term, and I would rather be at one school and retire and set that standard for Cavalier basketball.”
Huffer said Van Matre was one of the many people he sought advice from when he was offered the position. He said his mentors convinced him teaching and coaching at Chillicothe High School was one of the best jobs in southern Ohio. After more thought, Huffer decided to resign from his assistant coaching job at Oklahoma Weslyan and move his family to Chillicothe.
It is clear why the young coach had such an appeal to Chillicothe City Schools officials. Huffer is all about building character.
“I’m a big Brad Stevens fan and the ‘Butler way,'” Huffer said of the coach recently hired by the Boston Celtics. “I don’t know if we can coin it the “Cavalier way,’ but we’ll come up with something. It’s creating a culture of greatness.
“It’s passion, humility … community and unity. Those are things I’m going to instill in our student athletes and help them succeed on and off the court. Encourage contagious enthusiasm. I get to go to class, instead of I have to go to class. It’s changing that culture and bringing that enthusiasm and helping them see it’s more than basketball and winning.”
Huffer said he sees a very athletic team capable of handling his fast-paced defense — modeled after Van Matre’s.
“I look forward to to meeting this young group that’s very talented and athletic,” Huffer said. “I look forward to that challenge and coaching the athletic ability that’s here. I call it a home run to score in eight seconds or less, and all of that starts from the defensive end. We will get after it, like the style off Rick Van Matre. It’s going to create easy buckets for us.”
Huffer will begin weight lifting and open gym practices soon for the team.