Local coaching staff thriving – Chesterton Tribune

Left to right: Assistant coaches Jon Christensen (goalkeepers) and Austin Haire, head coach Lucas Sabedra and JV coach Tom Biel, all Chesterton High graduates, have teamed up to keep Trojans football going at the top of the state rankings. TOM KEEGAN/Picture

The 82-5-7 record and the first two state championship seasons in school history have head coach Lucas Sabedra’s name next to them, and that’s how it stands. must.

The responsibility stops with the head coach. He is the voice of authority, the one who sets the tone, in training and in competition. He makes all the final calls.

At the same time, Sabedra isn’t comfortable with all the credit she gets. He is proud of the other three coaches on his team for reasons beyond their abilities. Watching them work makes him proud of Chesterton football in general.

College assistant coaches Austin Haire and Jon Christensen and JV head coach Tom Biel all graduated from Chesterton High, Sabedra’s alma mater.

Before leaving for six years to live and work in Colorado, Christensen coached the goaltenders of Sabedra’s predecessor, Jamie Sensibaugh, for whom Sabedra played and worked as an assistant coach. Christensen is in his first season as goalkeeper coach for the Trojans.

“As pretty as Colorado’s clean mountains and rivers are, it’s those connections that you really miss,” said Christensen, a 2001 Chesterton graduate.

Biel was a student at Chesterton when the school started a football program in 1982, but he ran cross-country. He is happy to see one of his eldest son Thomas’ former coaches back in the program.

“The discipline, skill, talent he brings and the character of our team as well is just phenomenal,” Biel said. “We are not trying to make football players here. We try to make successful young men. The vehicle we use happens to be football, so I think when people see his ability to focus and structure and set goals for our goalkeepers, I think it teaches them life lessons that aren’t only applicable in the field. They are applicable in whatever they want to do.

Biel called Haire “more of the technical guy. Austin can look at a game and say, ‘Here’s what’s going on and here’s what we need to change’ when he was playing.

“Really savvy on the ball,” Christensen said. ” He is not in a hurry. He has the ability to have vision and see everything in play.” Haire called Christensen’s knowledge of goalkeeping “unparalleled, in my opinion.”

As a JV coach, part of Biel’s role is to make cuts. When he does this in training, he sends the players who made the team on a long run, “a campus tour”, then talks to those who didn’t make the cut as a group, and for those who ask for it, one on one. He shares his story of being kicked off the golf team and doing cross country and encourages them to try another sport.

“There are tears, there are disappointments, there are questions,” Biel said. “Sometimes football just isn’t your game. Let’s go find something you’re good at.

Biel handles many other tasks that coaches don’t usually volunteer for.

“I try to be the adult because sometimes emotions can get out of control and I try to keep everything under control,” Biel said. “I also try to make sure that I’m in tune (in the JV team) with what Lucas is doing. So if Lucas plays 4-3-3, I play 4-3-3. If Lucas wants let the wingbacks up, I want the wingbacks up. So I’m not playing to win the game, I’m playing to make these guys college football games.

Biel handles bus scheduling and a variety of other behind-the-scenes details.

“I’m sort of the secretary of the team, but that’s okay because when it comes to soccer, I don’t want to get in the way of Lucas. I want to echo his message,” Biel said. “A lot of times he’ll tell me (before a college game), ‘Coach, this is what I want to focus on today,’ and I’ll try to keep him focused on that during the game. He’ll get emotional and excited and lose track of something, and I’ll be like, “Coach, you wanted to work on it today,” and he’ll be like, “Got it, Tom.” We work well as a team. »

A coaching staff that is not united is unlikely to have 11 players compete as one.

“It’s like the players on the team,” Biel said. “At this level, you cannot have just one player who will take you to the national final. You must have more than 11 players who work as a team. I insist on that. We have a lot of talented players who are the best of their teams elsewhere and they come here and want to set their sights and win the game for us and it just doesn’t work.

Still, it helps to have stars, and Sabedra is a rock star in the local coaching ranks.

“Lucas brings that passion,” Biel said. “He is able to connect with these boys. An 18-year-old athlete is just wired differently and he knows how to get the most out of it and he knows how to combine that with the rest of the staff.

Haire played adult football with Sabedra and he describes his boss’s coaching style and playing style in similar terms.

“Lucas has a great knowledge of the game,” Haire said. “He has an engine. He is technically solid, knows what to do with the ball, plays outside, keeps running. He’s a guy who made an Iron Man.

Christensen chimed in, “He’s a beast.”

The more open-minded a smart person is in any field, the greater their potential for growth. Based on that premise and Haire’s reading of Sabedra, Chesterton’s head coach has a very high ceiling.

“His ever-changing mindset” is one thing that sets Sabedra apart, Haire said. “He’s never obsessed with one thing. He’s never obsessed with a player here or a player there, it’s your position and it’s your position. He is always trying to find out who can potentially be the best at any position.

And then there’s the quality that Biel was alluding to, Sabedra’s passion for football.

“He devotes his life to it,” Haire said. “He is a coach for the club. He trains young people. He coaches privately. He learns more in a week than I do in a year. His dedication to always learning another exercise that will help us, another way of teaching something, is once again unmatched.

The Trojans are ranked No. 2 in the state behind Zionsville in 3A, the highest ranking, and went 5-0 in Wednesday night’s game against Valparaiso. The fact that they’re doing it with a coaching staff made up entirely of Chesterton High grads seems to add to the experience for everyone involved.

“I think there’s something special about the legacy value of people who have been in a program and given back to it,” Christensen said. “And I think that means a lot to the kids: ‘Oh, it’s not just someone coming in, but they’ve been to school, they’ve played there. I think it’s also special for the coaches to know that we’ve all played here. There’s a pride in that.