In professional leagues like the NFL and the NBA, some head coaches have been getting hired at younger and younger ages.
That is trickling down into the high school ranks as well, like in Hillsboro, where a 20-year-old first-year head coach is leading the varsity boys basketball team at Faith Bible Christian High School.
Joey Chapman is just three years removed from high school himself, but he uses that close age connection to his students to relate to his players.
A senior captain at McMinnville High for the class of 2015, Chapman now shepherds his flock of Falcons, many of whom are in the class of 2018.
“My coach at McMinnville really kind of inspired me to take it to the next level,” Chapman told FOX 12.
The teens on his team said playing for Chapman has been a new experience.
“He's brought a different connection and a different liveliness that we haven't had before,” player Caleb Vandergiessen explained. "It's been kind of a blessing to have someone so close to our age."
Chapman spent one season as an assistant at Yamhill-Carlton while attending Linfield College, and said that gave him a new perspective on the game he did not have as a player.
“That was a real good opportunity for me to learn the other side of coaching,” he said. “Not just the X's and O's, but all of the little details. The planning, the buses, working with Athletic Directors at other schools, and so I said, ‘That's what I want to get into.'”
Chapman was still hoping to hoop, though, and spent last winter living his own hoop dream, suiting it up for a division-three school in Minnesota. It was there that he realized his future was on the sidelines.
“I kind of decided last year when I was at Crown College that, ‘Hey, I am done playing,'” he said.
To his own surprise, Chapman was hired by the tiny 2-A school late in the summer after having a job interview via Skype with Faith AD Greg Turner.
“It kind of took me back because I thought, “I'm not going to get this job,” he said.
For some kids at Faith Bible, Chapman is their fourth head coach since freshman year. The big difference they said is that Chapman is someone who very recently was in the same position they are now.
“Everything he is saying, you know that he just did,” player Caleb Predmore told FOX 12. “He's not just some old philosophy he's throwing out there.”
Chapman explained that his more modern philosophy - shooters shoot, so let it rip – is appreciated by the players and is more complex than some may think.
“We're working on, kind of, the more structure to it,” he said. “Rather than just running and gunning, we are running and we're slowing down. Yeah, we might take more outside shots but it's in the flow of the offense.”
Chapman may be close in age to his players, but he still lets them know who’s in charge.
“I'm not here to be your friend, I am here to coach you and make this team better,” Chapman said.
Don't let it get twisted, though. The coach can still be a kid, like on a recent team trip to Umatilla.
“We stayed in a hotel with all of the guys, had some 2K tournaments, and it's like, alright, I feel like I am part of the guys sometime, but I have to keep myself kind of outside of that to keep that respect level and that fine line,” he said.
The players' parents have lined up on the Chapman bandwagon despite some early reservations about having such a young head coach.
“When they found out how young I was, at first they were like, ‘We are hiring a 20-year-old to coach our 18-year-olds?’” he said. “I kind of took them back for a second, but as soon as they got to watch a practice and watch a game, they saw our energy-level was completely different than it was last year. Maybe we won't be as successful as last year, maybe we will be, but at the end of the day, the energy is high, and we are building and getting better every day, and that's what these parents care about.”
Chapman's vision to is complete his college education online next fall though Phoenix's Grand Canyon University to become a teacher.
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