By Jim Henry
PITTSBURG, Kan. — Jeff Hafer was born to coach.
“It’s in my blood. It’s who I am,” he said. “My wife finally looked at me and said ‘You have to coach. That’s what you are.’ That’s where it really changed for us.”
Hafer was an assistant basketball coach at Pittsburg State for seven of Gene Iba’s 15-year tenure, the first two as a graduate assistant and the next five as the top assistant. His last year he was named assistant head coach. The Gorillas averaged 17.5 victories the seven years that Hafer was on staff (2001-08) and made two trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Hafer was back on campus Monday to interview to become Iba’s successor. Approximately 50 people attended a public forum at the Jack Overman Student Center when Hafer answered questions.
“I am delighted to be here,” Hafer said. “This for me has been something I worked for my entire career here. The opportunity to get the chance to be involved as the head basketball coach at Pittsburg State has been my dream. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn many things from a great many coaches who have been around this game a long time. I enjoy sharing that and teaching kids and watching them develop.”
Hafer wasn’t concerned about the reception he would receive at Pittsburg State after leaving two years ago.
“What I knew I had here at Pittsburg State were great relationships,” he said. “I didn’t leave this place on any kind of a bad term at all. There are people who I kept up with over the last two years.”
As far as his departure, “For me it was a good time with a great opportunity for me to do something for my family that I hadn’t been able to do to that point. I was a marketing representative for an insurance company in a five-county area in Missouri There are competitive arenas in those fields ... but in my mind, I knew what I wanted to do. Sometimes you have to be away from something to really find out how passionate and in love with it you are. And those around you have to see that, too. And that was easy for us. This is a family decision. All five Hafer family members are coming after this job and ready to make it ours and be part of this community.”
By Jim Henry
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