Rob Yoder's not sure he could be boss of the Westview Warriors if he couldn't also be boss of himself.
Chosen by an overwhelmingly majority as The Truth's 2008 boys high school basketball Coach of the Year, Yoder is unique among the 14 IHSAA area head coaches in that he's the only one who doesn't also hold a full-time job in education.
Instead, Yoder -- who does hold a teaching license -- runs his own real estate and construction business.
"I don't know how those guys teach," Yoder said Friday of his peers and alluding to the growing, year-round time demands on all coaches. "They're better coaches than me. I've probably got a little greater flexibility with my time, especially in the winter. I come in at noon or earlier almost every day to start watching tape or take care of something."
Yoder guided the tradition-rich Westview program to both its best record (24-2) and greatest winning streak (23) ever this season.
The Warriors ran the table in the Northeast Corner Conference, won the NECC Tourney crown and convincingly took Class 2A sectional and regional titles before falling to eventual state champ Fort Wayne Luers at the Warsaw Semistate.
In balloting among 11 of other coaches (his own ballot excluded) and six Truth staffers, Yoder received 13 votes for Coach of the Year.
NorthWood rookie Aaron Wolfe received two votes, outgoing Central coach Mike Drews 1.5 votes and two other coaches a combined 1.5 votes.
"To win something like that is really an honor because (the coaches vote on it), and because there are so many good ones around here, but anytime you receive something like this, it's really a team award," Yoder said. "It's directly related to the quality of the players in our program."
Yoder, 38 and a 1988 Westview graduate, became head coach at his alma mater in 2003 after seven seasons as Troy Neely's assistant. Yoder is 70-48 in five seasons.
"I had a teaching degree out of college, but as much as I love basketball, I was not necessarily determined to be a coach," said Yoder, who completed his playing career at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. "My college coach (1974 Lakeland graduate Dennis Harp) thought I should be involved, so I was an assistant for him for one year, but I wanted to move back to this area and live here and not move around."
Yoder did so, and in 1995, incoming Lakeland coach Tim Sirk asked him to be an assistant. Yoder obliged.
The next year, Neely was starting a second stint at Westview, and he asked Yoder, his former player, to join him. Yoder again obliged.
Now Yoder is entrenched as a head coach, with a reputation as a tireless worker, with a record of summer involvement with his teams, and with a history of being hands-on with the feeder programs.
"I do this one year at a time, I don't look any further than that," said Yoder, who has a 7-year-old son, Charlie, and 5-year-old daughter, Carigan, with wife Cori, "but I can tell you I'll be back next year. We're at work on next year. It's going to be a challenge with the seniors we're losing, but we're looking forward to it."
"Coach Yoder has to be the hardest-working coach in the state," senior center Taylor Aspy said during the Warriors' postseason run. "Whatever we need to do, whatever we need to know about the opponent, we've got confidence that he's going to have us ready."
"I can accept losing if we gave our very best effort, but if we lose because we didn't have our players prepared, because we didn't know the other team likes to run a pick and roll after a double screen for a specific player, something like that, then I struggle with that," Yoder said.
Yoder also would struggle if he thought his Warriors were getting beaten on toughness, something he emphasizes as a point of prevention.
"It seems like we never have a lot of size here," Yoder said, "but we're going to go out and compete as hard as we can. We won't play dirty, but I don't ever want to lose because of the physical contact or because we're intimidated. I've seen teams lose that way. It's an easy excuse when you're the smaller guy, but if you don't make that excuse, most of the time it's still going to come down to who plays the best basketball."
Toward that end, Yoder says one of the top tasks to coaching is meshing individual goals, abilities and personalities into a cohesive team.
"Because we're a competitive program, we've got so many guys who have goals," Yoder said. "The guys who make the team want to be good enough to be in the rotation. The guys in the rotation want to be good enough to start. The guys who start would like to be the scorers.
"I guarantee you as these guys counted down 5-4-3-2-1 in their backyards growing up, none of them imagined themselves on the bench supporting somebody else hitting the shot, so the challenge is bringing everybody together to focus on one common goal."
Contact Anthony Anderson at email@example.com or (574) 296-5900.