For nearly a decade, girls' basketball was the game in Matt Huber's life.|
But after spending the past nine seasons -- seven of them at Annawan High School, the last two at Princeton -- as a head coach on the varsity girls' level, a change in Huber's life ended up leading to a change in his professional role.
After some issues surrounding the birth of his second child this past summer, Huber felt the need and desire to have more time to give to his wife and two sons, leading him -- with reluctance -- to step aside from the Princeton post.
However, coaching was not out of his blood by any means.
As things have turned out, the 1998Wethersfield High School graduate has been able to return to the sidelines, but in a vastly different role, as a varsity assistant and head frosh-soph coach for the Annawan boys' basketball program.
"We had our second child this past summer, and it was a little bit complicated, which meant having to spend some time in Peoria,'' he said. "Being able to spend the time with my family that was needed, and at the same time spending time in Princeton was just not possible. So, I had to walk away. It was a very tough decision, but I had to look out for my family.
"With all the trips that were being made, I made to make sure I was there for that, and it came down to doing what was best for the baby at that time. It came down to finding myself in the gym and thinking about home, and being home and thinking about the gym.''
When a spot opened on first-year Annawan boys' coach Brandon Christy's staff, Huber -- who remained a teacher at Annawan even during his two-year stint at Princeton -- found it was a golden opportunity in many ways.
"We were looking for coaching, and I still wanted to coach, but with two kids and being a head coach, the time wasn't there to devote to both. When it's said and done, my family's first for me,'' said Huber. "This opportunity made it so I was able to coach, but not have the time constraints a head coach has. There's a lot of stuff behind the scenes you do that people don't know about.''
After nearly 10 years working with girls' teams, Huber doesn't feel there's a great difference between his former duties and working with the boys' cagers.
"The game itself, it's still the game. it's the same; the Xs and Os aspect is really not that different,'' said Huber, who went 120-73 in his seven years with the Annawan girls, winning regional titles in 2008 and 2010. "Boil it down, it's coaching basketball, and on top of that, you're still teaching life's lessons. There's a lot you can teach, and being able to teach the game and life lessons, that's what I look forward to.
"Coaching is always fun, and I've been fortunate the last 10 years to have some great groups of kids. Now, I'm getting to connect with different kids at different levels.''
The Braves sport a 8-15 record and are 3-4 in the Lincoln Trail Conference. A three-game LTC losing skid was broken last Tuesday night when the Braves topped then-conference leader Stark County 43-41. Annawan then opened LTC Tournament play with a 75-45 win over Princeville, and will face Wethersfield Tuesday night at 7 in the quarterfinals.
"This group has gone through a lot, with its fourth head coach in four years, and they're still learning,'' said Huber. "It's a very resilient, hard-working group, and we'll get better in the next few weeks. We want to be clicking by the end of the year.''
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