HURON — Although he doesn’t have a team in the fight, Darwin Hofer, who has served as the boys’ basketball coach at James Valley Christian the past six seasons, definitely has a vested interest in the Class “B” State Girls’ Basketball Tournament, which begins today at Huron Arena.
Four of Hofer’s former players will be coaching during the season-ending event. Rob Carpenter and Taylor Rymerson with Waverly-South Shore, along with Brian Hogie and Dan Knust of Ipswich all learned to play the game from Hofer, who coached two years in Waverly before spending the next 14 years at Deubrook.
“This may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” Hofer said. “It’s awesome to see your former players, who were all successful players in their day, turn their skills into coaching and lead their teams to the state tournament. I had the privilege of presenting both coaches from Ipswich their SoDak 16 medals and plaque. What a fun experience.”
Carpenter, who is the head girls’ basketball coach for Waverly-South Shore was the lone member of the four coaches to play for Hofer in Waverly. He is a 1995 graduate.
“Rob was a complete player. He could play all five positions for me on any given night,” Hofer said. “He was a strong and physical player. I remember Rob scoring 43 points against Veblen at their gym and did it without hitting a 3-pointer. His lowest scoring game during his senior year was 13 points versus Deubrook.”
Carpenter, who took over the head coaching duties for Waverly-South Shore in 2015, spent just one season with Hofer as his coach, but his senior campaign was a challenging one personally.
“One thing that I learned from Darwin is how important it is to build strong relationships with your players. Darwin and I had a great relationship that extended beyond the sport of basketball,” Carpenter said. “I lost my brother my senior year before the start of basketball and Darwin was always there for me. His influence was the main reason I went to college and played basketball.”
Carpenter got his start in coaching in 1997 as a student-assistant for Chuck Iverson and the women’s basketball team at Mt. Marty College in Yankton, during his final two years at the school. He served as the head boys’ and assistant girls’ coach in Waverly for one season before it consolidated with South Shore.
Carpenter stepped away from coaching to work on his family’s farm after the consolidation and then returned to the sidelines in 2010 as the junior high girls’ coach for Waverly-South Shore.
Hogie, who has been the head coach for girls’ basketball and football for Ipswich during the past 13 seasons, is a 2001 graduate of Deubrook.
“Brian Hogie played the point for me and was a tough-nosed defender,” Hofer said. “Much of the style of defense my players play today and over the years is based off of the type defense Hogie played for me in high school — in-your-face defense and not letting you get the ball. He set a defensive tradition.”
Hogie says some of the coaching strategies that Hofer instilled in him as a player are ones he uses with his team’s today.
“He taught me how to understand what it takes to make our team better. Everyone had a role and we understood what our roles were and how filling that role would help our team,” Hogie said of Hofer. “We still take some of our offensive philosophies that we used in high school and instill then into our girls.
“I thought it was great having him and the late Mike Knust (as coaches) for four years,” he said. “Having the stability of these two coaches each year helped to start to develop my coaching philosophy.”
Knust, the son of Hofer’s former assistant coach, is a 2004 graduate of Deubrook. He is the assistant coach to Hogie in Ipswich.
“Dan Knust saw everything on the court. Dan got the school record for assists in a game, season and career at Deubrook,” Hofer said. “But, what really stands out to me is the four charges he took in one game in the conference tournament against Estelline.
“Dan’s dad, Mike, was my assistant boys’ coach for many years and I was his assistant in girls’ basketball,” he said. “Dan was even my assistant boys’ coach for two years in Deubrook, while attending South Dakota State University. Dan and I have hunted together many times over the years.”
According to Knust, whose parents are Alpena High School graduates, Hofer has been a mentor for him for much of his life.
“Coach Hofer had a big impact on my life growing up. I spent many hours in his practices as a little kid, water boy and eventually a player for four years,” he said. “Coach Hofer gave the eulogy at my dad’s funeral a few years ago and did great. He always has the right words to say and has been like another father to me.”
Rymerson, who is an assistant coach at Waverly-South Shore, is a 2008 graduate from Deubrook.
“Taylor Rymerson was another amazing point guard. He learned his skills from Knust so well that he broke Dan’s assist records at Deubrook,” Hofer said. “What really stands out to me about Taylor is that he comes into a varsity game as an eighth-grader off the bench and scores nine points in our 96-93 triple overtime win over Castlewood. From then on, I knew I had to have him on the court.”
Rymerson recalls a pair of quotes from his playing days with Hofer that continue to resonate to this day.
“The two quotes from Hofer that I will be forever grateful for are, ‘It’s the really tough times that define who we are’ and ‘What you put in, is what you’ll get out,’” he said.
Rymerson described Hofer as a player’s coach.
“He had confidence in his players to let us be us on the court. He would let us just go play basketball, but yet knew when to reign us in if we needed to run certain sets, or on offense if we had gone a few possessions without a good look,” he said. “He would listen to our ideas/plays and run with it if he though it would work. He always made sure his players knew he had their back.”
Rymerson looks to use many of the things he learned from Hofer with his team today.
“Hofe has always been there for me whenever I’ve reached out to him, whether that is basketball or life, and that is something I try to do with the kids I coach now,” he said. “Hofe always told us that he wasn’t just trying to teach us basketball, but the game of life also. He has impacted many kids’ lives through the years and I am just glad to be one of them.”
Ipswich and Waverly-South Shore have met twice during the past two seasons, with each team coming away with a victory. A rubber match could be in store at this year’s Class B Tournament, as they are in the opposite brackets.
“If we get a rubber match with them during the state tournament it will be interesting to see who Hofe is rooting for,” Rymerson said.
Ipswich is the No. 6 seed with an 18-3 record and will face third-seeded Corsica-Stickney in the opening round today at 7:45 p.m. Waverly-South Shore, who upset second-seeded Faith in the SoDak 16 to reach the state tournament, is the No. 8 seed with a 15-7 record and will face top-seeded Ethan in the first game of the tournament today at noon.
“When you are a high school basketball player your goal is always to make a state tournament and none of us was able to do that at Deubrook,” Hogie said. “Now to have three Deubrook grads coaching at the same state tournament is pretty cool.”