By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As you all know, it’s all about the head coach. Many of the great ones never aspire to that title, but they love to coach.

Jake Moore started doing it as the freshman coach 46 years ago at Hastings. This season is his last, and oh the memories.

He got out of college and landed a job at the school from which he graduated.

“[I] just had come out of school and I went back to my home town and I got a teaching job there, and I was asked by the athletic director if I would like to coach football and basketball, and I said, ‘Yeah, I’d be interested in doing that,'” Moore said.

He is the same now as he was then; passionate about coaching, because he’s passionate about the kids.

“He’s more like old school, but he’s really like kind-hearted, and he doesn’t really show it on the court sometimes because he yells,” said freshman Colby Zak. “But he’s really been an inspiration to all of us I thought this whole year. And he’s not just a coach. After every practice almost, he gives us history lessons, like tells us all about the city of Hastings, stuff that we never knew.”

He’s seen his share from the bench, including a Division-I prospect in the late 70s who went on to national fame as a talk show host — a guy named Craig Kilborn.

“He was a great player for me,” Moore said.

Jim Buffo works for the Minnesota Timberwolves now. He is 30-years removed from his days playing for Moore, but his imprint lives on.

“I actually coach my fourth-grade son’s team and I do a lot of the stuff that [Moore] taught us now with those guys,” Buffo said. “We’d chart every free throw in practice, and I do that now with my team. So I definitely learned a lot from him.”

He’s never been a head coach, but boy, he’s been a coach. He worked as an assistant when Hastings was in its football heyday — a time that included a state title.

“We just had a run of 10 tremendous years,” Moore said.

He’s done it because he loves it; the process and the people more than the results.

“One of the telling things is when a season’s done, I have a lot of parents who will come up and they’ll say, ‘Boy, they’ve really improved,'” Moore said. “And that’s really rewarding.”

That’s the goal and the legacy; to stay fresh by focusing on what they really need to know about life.

“He’s the greatest,” said freshman Danny Brown. “So many people have told us so many good things before we came to him, and all of those things are true. He’s kind, he makes us work hard … But more than that, he’s a mentor to us, and he makes us love the sport.”

Moore is making sure they understand they are lucky, and who came before them. Maybe that’s why being courtside is his comfort zone; chewing gum, coaching the freshmen team and realizing this has been a pretty good way to spend your life.

“My wife helped out an awful lot, allowing me to do this, and she filled in when I couldn’t make it,” Moore said. “I like the games, I like the competition, and I never would have believed I would still be here now, ever,” Moore said.

He will continue his other sports passion: umpiring. He still works about 150 softball games a year, down from his younger years when he approached 300.

Mike Max