Some consider it the ultimate compliment, and it’s the kind of salute often reserved for family members, great figures in history or childhood heroes. At a minimum, for someone older than one’s self.
But when Jason Ridge and wife Danelle had a son March 29, 2006, they named him not after any of those above individuals, but after a 20-year-old college student whom Jason had helped coach a few years earlier in high school.
Ridge, who would later become head boys basketball coach at Northridge, named his son Marcus — after the same Marcus Moore who was just hired as Jimtown High School boys coach earlier this week.
Now an assistant principal at Whitko, Ridge was an assistant coach at Columbia City during the first three seasons of Moore’s playing career there, before leaving to become head coach at South Adams.
How could a high school kid have left such an impression on a man who was getting ready to name his first-born child?
“For as long as I’ve known him, and I’ve known him since he was in third or fourth grade,” Ridge said of Moore, “he has been really good at building relationships with people. He was a great teammate. Seriously, he could have scored way more than he did, but he got everyone involved and really gets the team concept. He is one of those people that has no enemies. He has a good basketball mind. And he’s an IU fan, too, so I have to like him.”
Moore earned an Indiana Junior All-Star nod during Ridge’s final season with the Eagles, in 2002-03, and then the following season helped lead Columbia City to the Class 4A state championship game.
“Marcus called me shortly before the game started and thanked me for my role in his life,” Ridge recalled. “That always meant a lot to me.”
Ridge coached at Northridge for six years, compiling a 68-60 record from 2006-07 to 2011-12, including Elkhart County’s only unbeaten boys regular season in the last 24 years in 2008-09, before resigning in 2012 to take his administrative post at Whitko.
Like Ridge, Moore has been an assistant coach at Columbia City, staying at his alma mater for four years. He then spent last year as an assistant at Huntington North.
“He’ll do great,” Ridge said of Moore landing his first head coaching job. “He gets it and knows what he is doing. I thought it was a great hire for Jimtown.”