ALGONAC There are many ways to build a lasting bond through sports.
John Highstreet and Dan Matzka just happened to take the road less travelled. The Algonac High School boys and girls basketball coaches have forged a special relationship the past two decades while assisting each other in addition to running their own teams.
Together they have helped streamline the Algonac High School basketball programs. At games and also practices, Highstreet, the boys coach, and Matzka, the girls coach, co-teach players.
“When he became the girls varsity coach, I was already the boys varsity coach and we continued to help each other,” Highstreet said. “It made for long days when the seasons changed and both the girls and boys seasons were at the same time. We think a lot alike and it’s really great working with him.
“He’s always coming up with different things. Our mindset is a lot alike. We substitute players for each other on the bench. That’s always been a relief that you don’t have to worry about. Someone is taking care of that and that takes one stress away. And we just throw in what we need to do to help and what we see. Four eyes are better than two eyes and he knows the game so well.”
While Highstreet is a 1975 graduate of Algonac High School, Matzka graduated from Austin High School in Detroit in 1976. When Highstreet first began coaching at Algonac High School, it was with the girls junior varsity team, and Matzka had a child on the team.
“He was coaching JV girls and I gave him a hand with that,” Matzka said. “He was just taking over the boys program at the time and I ended up doing JV boys back then and helped him with varsity boys and it progressed from there.
“I never thought I would do it for so long. I’m sure he felt the same way. But it kept us together.”
After 17 years, the duo is still together leading the Algonac boys and girls teams. This year has been a struggle for the Muskrats but there is still hope for a turnaround. However, they know after so many years of coaching together, their amazing run will one day end.
“It would feel strange,” Highstreet said. “Doing it for so long has been amazing and we keep talking about what that road is. … I will remember being with him and just the camaraderie we have. He’s a great guy you can talk to and work with. We’ve had a lot of fun and some heartache.”
That is not lost on Matzka.
“We have had some really good teams and some bad teams,” Matzka said. “The fact we got through everything together is what I will remember the most. We helped each other in good times and bad times. His daughters played for me. My daughters played for him. It’s been great.”
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