Click to EnlargePHOTOSBYBRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal "I have the ideal job," says Galena head coach Tom Maurer, who yells instructions to his team during their playoff game against the Douglas Tigers, above, and instructs his team during a film session, below.
"I work with handicapped kids and I work with high school basketball players who aren't touched by shoe companies.I get to work with Galena
kids as much as they want to be worked with."Galena head coach Tom Maurer yells instructions to his
team during their playoff game against the Douglas Tigers.Below, Maurer
instructs his team in the classroom at the high school in preparation for their playoff game against Douglas.
...RENO - Forget about welcome to the jungle, baby, welcome to Galena boys basketball coach and Carson City resident Tom Maurer's "Cave."
There is no confusing Maurer's de facto domicile with the high school's gymnasium, which is also called "The Cave."In fact, there is no comparison whatsoever.The roughly 9 x 9-foot office at Galena High School
- the 46-year-old Maurer's home away from home - contains far more basketball-related memorabilia than a mere gym could ever hold.
Call it the Tower of Maurer
, a veritable basketball Wailing Wall where every available inch of space - floor to ceiling - is jammed full of paper of some kind.
Not that Maurer
, who hails from Gary, Ind. - Hoosier land itself - is consumed by basketball or anything like that.Doesn't everybody have a basketball court outlined in masking tape on his
office floor, with the caps of Magic Markers lined up to represent players while doing a little X-ing and O-ing?
On Feb. 13, the night before his Grizzlies will end their season with a loss to Douglas in the semifinal round of the NIAA Northern 4A Regional Championships, Maurer
is in the midst of game-planning before the two-hour practice that precedes the one-hour film session.
, who is of Polish and German descent, grew up in the Polish-Italian
section of Gary, once a Midwestern melting pot that revolved around the area's formerly abundant steel mills.His
father, Bill, worked in the steel mills for 45 years, before dying of a heart attack.Maurer
- the youngst of five siblings - said his father never took an interest in athletic endeavors, but his oldest brother Bob (Maurer had two older brothers and two older sisters), who was drafted by the New York Yankees, played a role in his life that still affects him and his philosophy to this day.Maurer
- the youngst of five siblings - said his father never took an interest in athletic endeavors, but his oldest brother Bob (Maurer had two older brothers and two older sisters), who was drafted by the New York Yankees, played a role in his life that still affects him and his philosophy to this day.
"He was a true sport athlete," Maurer
said of Bob, who along with his 88-year-old mother, Virginia, lives in Lewiston, Idaho.
, who said his
family was robbed every Halloween in spite of moving several times, was shot in the left knee during a drive-by.Maurer attended Highland High School in Gary, where he was a two-sport athlete.He
was a 5-foot-6 point guard - the only sophomore to ever make varsity - and a left fielder.
It was baseball that got Maurer
out of Gary - at least for a while.He went to Northern Idaho Junior College, but tore a muscle in his right arm.Then it was on to Indiana, where he received in-state tuition and graduated in 1987 with a degree in special education."It's always been my passion to help exceptional children - severely handicapped, emotionally handicapped, health impaired and learning disabled," said Maurer, who is the special education and site facilitator at Galena.
While at Indiana, Maurer
made three acquaintances that would forever change his
future wife, Dianne, current IU assistant coach Dan Dakich and Bob Knight himself.Maurer
married Dianne, a former gymnast who also attended Highland (they never met in high school), in 1984 and took his
first coaching job in Kooskia, Idaho, where he
team to more victories in the 1987-88 season (five) than it had in its previous five years.
"I just wanted to get out of Gary really bad," he
said."My wife moved to Kooskia at Christmastime, but she
said if she
didn't see a mall in five minutes, she'd divorce me."
So it was on to Carson City, where he's
lived ever since.
opened its doors in 1992 and Maurer
dream job open up.
"Coach Knight called the office and asked to speak to the principal, Jackie Jones," Maurer
There is one title that has eluded Maurer
, however: He
has never been selected by his
fellow coaches as Coach of the Year."Isn't that funny," said Foothill coach and former University of Nevada point guard Kevin Soares (1988-92), who assisted Maurer in the 1992-93 season.
...Assistant coach Doug Cordova is one of those players who have come back to help Maurer.
The power that is Maurer
is part Knight, part street smarts and part self-motivator.
"It was nice to get that Indiana, Bob Knight integrity into me," he
Leading by example - that's something Maurer
, who has two children - believes parents should do.
"There are a lot of great parents out there," he
doesn't allow his
players' parents to e-mail him.They have to go through their son first to meet with him.
"I teach my kids the same thing," he
"I hope they think I get players," said Maurer
, who also coaches fourth-and fifth-graders at the Reno-Sparks Boys & Girls Club.
...Maurer, who said he had a chance to begin coaching at Youngstown State when he was 24 but turned it down because of job-security issues, said he's going to remain at Galena through 2016, so that he can coach his own boys."Then I'll get a job as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines," he deadpanned.
"It's a great airline.