Former SHS head coach building an impressive coaching tree PDF Print E-mail
Written by George Browning   
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 08:16

The true measure of a great coach is their ability to make those around them better.

That’s true of the players they coach, but it is also true for the people who work closest with them – the assistants.

Coach Bobby Knight was one of the greatest of all time and one of his assistants in the early days was Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski . Coach K still talks about things he learned from those days of working with “The General.”

There are many more who coached or played under Knight who have had or are having coaching success.

There are some up and coming young coaches who worked under Coach K, who are beginning to make their ways to great careers. Coach K teaches them some things he picked up on his own, but he also teaches them some things he learned from those days of working daily with Coach Knight.

Find any great coach and not only will there be a list of good players who played for them, but there will also be plenty of former players and assistants who are continuing to put branches on the coach’s coaching tree.

Coaching trees are not as common at the high school level as they are in college, because there is usually a teaching job tied to the coaching position. That tends to lead to a lot of assistants, who may make great head coaches, staying put.

Staying put is not what has happened at Salem High School and former football Head coach Brian Motsinger.

Motsinger was the Lions’ head coach for the better part of 10 years and is still an assistant coaching along side one of his former players, RJ Hartsfield.

Hartsfield is one of four of Motsinger’s former players and assistants  who are now wearing the head coaching whistle.

Luke Dean who played for the Lions in Motsinger’s days helped to build a strong program at Eastern Greene before taking over the Eastern program in Pekin.

Since the football season ended back in November, two more former Motsinger assistant coaches, Jeremy Lowery and Aaron Humphrey, have been hired to lead programs.

Lowery is now the head man at Paoli and Humphrey is the HC at Corydon Central.

A third of the MSC football coaches have spent plenty of time at SHS.

Motsinger said he could tell all four of them held a special place for the game in their hearts and he is not surprised to see them as head coaches.

“They all love the game, are hard workers, and are detail oriented,” he said. “RJ and Luke played for me, both were very hard workers and great leaders. Jeremy and Aaron coached for me for years, and they made my job much easier. They were self-starters and driven to succeed.”

Even more than their ability to coach kids, Motsinger said he is glad they all have hearts for their players, which is even bigger than Xs and Os at the high school level.

“I loved all of my guys that played and or coached for me,” Motsinger said. “We always encouraged the kids to be the best they could be in whatever they chose to do. We always went to any length to help a kid out. We wanted them to feel great about being a part of the team and take pride in everything they do. I know all four of those guys would do anything for their players. I am taking about being there for them as a player, and also there for them after they are done playing.”

Hartsfield, Dean, Lowery and Humphrey are just the varsity head coaches. Many more of Motsinger’s former players are coaching junior high and team-center football teams.

Many of those coaching younger kids could also be coaching at the varsity level.

One of those is Blair Thompson, who coaches at Salem Middle School and has turned down head coaching offers to remain at Salem.

He said he thinks there are two things that stand-out about Motsinger and why his coaching tree is growing.

“The first is when I was an assistant (coaching under him) he lets you coach,” Thompson said. “He always took the feedback of everyone on the staff and actually listened. I think some coaches make a mistake with getting so caught up in doing it ‘their’ way. That can make assistants feel their input isn’t important. Brian listened and didn’t micro-manage.

“If a coach could explain how something was going to work and convince him of that he usually agreed to try it.”

Thompson not only coached with Motsinger, but played for him, too.

“From a player’s perspective he instilled love of the game,” Thompson said. “He taught more than X and O’s. He established a family atmosphere from the first day and his players loved him. The thing about Brian was he took the pressure off the kids and stressed the fun of the game. How great the game of football is and didn’t beat the kids down to where football wasn’t fun for them anymore. He wanted them to be as excited about it when they were seniors as they were when they got their first helmet in third grade.”

As a reporter covering local teams, I can attest to Thompson’s thoughts, I saw it first hand. I remember going to practice during two-a-day practices.

It was miserable hot and the Lions were working hard, but they also took time to have some fun.

You can sense the pride Motsinger has in seeing people he cares about succeeding on the field and in life.

He wishes them all well, as long as they aren’t coaching against Salem!

“I do not like playing against friends, because someone has to come out on the short end of the stick in the game. Hopefully, it won’t be the Lions!”

Do you know any coaches who are building a large coaching tree? Let me know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it