Roger Boughton: Derek Hahn is the glue in holding programs together
Published 8:16 pm Friday, April 14, 2023
Today I share with you the story of a community college, a basketball and baseball team and a coach. Once in a very long time, highly skilled players come upon the scene that allows the team to excel and reach beyond what is usually accomplished.
They are those special players who know how to score, defend the basketball and accumulate points for the team. However, the coach that works with this talent is the catalyst that ignites and allows the team to become one unit that is almost unstoppable.
Today I share with you the story of a very special person by the name of Derek Hahn. He is the men’s basketball coach, baseball coach and athletic director at Riverland Community College. He has been at the helm for just seven short years.
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Players come and go but he is the glue that holds the team together. This is especially true at a two-year college, where many players are often in attendance at the college for just one year and transfer to a four-year university.
Every year is a rebuilding year. The coach is the magic that molds the team together as one unit working together for a common goal. How does one know that he is one of those “special” coaches?
Last year his basketball team was ranked number one in the country.
He also took his team to the National Tournament in Illinois, coming in fifth in the tournament. His baseball team coming off COVID was ranked as high as No. 10 in the NJCAA National Poll during the year. This is a first for Riverland Community since its early beginning in 1940 as Austin Community College.
The college has been fortunate to have had good coaches in the past years such as Jim Mittun, Earl Perkins, Scott Koenigs and Dave Lillemon along with good players. But that extra special achievement comes along only once in a very long time. Could having played as a player and student at the college had something to do with this extraordinary accomplishment? When Derek played as a student the Blue Devils won MCAC State Championships and NJCAA Region XIII Championship back-to-back years.
One has to ask, what is it that makes a team so special? What does the coach contribute that is the magic that allows the team to excel well beyond its natural limit? Each coach is different and brings something special to the game. I asked Dan Wilson who has been involved in sports for a number of years as a baseball umpire. He indicates that a good coach is first a good person. He treats his team as very “special” people and is an extraordinarily good listener. Dan says Derek has that special ability to blend his players together into one unit regardless of race or ethnic make-up. When asking colleagues and others at the college they agree. Derek gives it 100% and can often be in the gym or out on a field working with players well beyond the time that most coaches would be home with family. He treats his players as family and expects the same from them.
Montrell Jacobs had just graduated from Kentucky State University in December when I talked to him about Coach Hahn. He indicated that Coach Hahn is a great recruiter and presented a plan that he couldn’t refuse so Jacobs enrolled at Riverland. He kept his word. Jacobs was on the 2018-2020 basketball team at Riverland Community College and were really successful with 48 wins and only 11 loses during the two years that Jacobs was at the school and played on the team.
“Coach Hahn set high standards and expected a lot from each player,“ Jacobs said. “I am sure that was why we were so successful. He just wouldn’t give up and treated players fairly.”