Excerpt from Chapter 5: Learning to Win
The team had heard the stories — ninth grade coach Marc Anderson was a little crazy.
“A little,” linebacker Pat Lockyear chuckled. “That’s an understatement.”
“Yeah,” Anderson said, “I guess you could say I was a little crazy back then.”
But the intense, clip-board-breaking, face-mask grabbing Anderson was more complex than simply crazy. The intelligent Anderson had a John McEnroe-type personality that refused to allow him, or his teams, to have even a moment of lacked concentration or all-out effort.
Anderson had known by the second grade that he was destined to be a coach — a wrestling coach. The only member of the Knights coaching staff at the time who hadn’t graduated from the University of Evansville, the Indiana University graduate had been employed for two years at Pike Central High School in Petersburg, Indiana, where he had started the school’s wrestling program from scratch.
Waking up one morning and enjoying his coffee and newspaper, Anderson came across an article that would change his life. The article in the Evansville Courier announced that the wrestling coach at Evansville Mater Dei High School had retired. Anderson immediately called Mater Dei, explaining to the athletic director how he had been a wrestler at IU and had started Pike Central’s wrestling program from scratch. The athletic director listened politely and then apologized, telling Anderson that he had just hired Mike Goebel, a former Mater Dei wrestler, away from Castle.
Anderson was crushed. Year after year, Mater Dei was one of the state’s top wrestling programs. Then the Mater Dei athletic director put some wind back in Anderson’s sails.
“Why don’t you call over to Castle right now,” he said. “I think they’re in a pinch.”
In fact, the athletic director said, he’d call over in advance if it would help. Giving the athletic director enough time to make the advance phone call, Anderson made his. Castle Athletic Director Tony Inzerello told Anderson to come down that very day to talk to him. Before the sun had set, Anderson was Castle’s new head wrestling coach and would assist with the freshman football team.
“It was a dream come true,” Anderson said. “Castle seemed like a big-time program coming from Pike Central.”
Anderson’s coaching antics would be talked about for years and still are a favorite topic of any player who played for him. Anderson believed as much in the mental side of athletics as the physical side. He believed in taking chances and his intensity was contagious.
“He was a tremendous motivator,” Lockyear said. “Anybody who knows wrestling coaches knows that he more than fit that mold.”
Lineman Mike Hoag would learn that the hard way. During one practice, Anderson grew wary of Hoag’s mistakes on the offensive line and put him on defense instead. Fearing he was losing his position, Hoag “went ballistic” and started taking his frustration out on the offensive players, including running back Dave Brosmer and quarterback Mike Davis. Coach Evers, who was growing concerned about Hoag hurting somebody, calmly told Anderson: “I think you better give him his position back.”
“We were all scared of him,” Hoag said. “He’d throw a football at your helmet if you messed up — and he had pretty good aim.”
But there was a method to Anderson’s madness, Lockyear said.
“He was very disciplined. He wouldn’t allow us to accept making mistakes. He wanted us to be perfect,” Lockyear said. “There was never a let up no matter the score or how bad we are beating a team. We were always expected to play and practice to our fullest.”