By Connor Beach
Elwood-John Glenn boys varsity soccer coach Lou Hanner was humbled last month.
He learned that he had been named a coach of the year for New York State by The National Federation of High Schools; he was one of 11 coaches to receive the award for the 2016-2017 season.
“It’s very humbling,” he said, “there are 700 coaches who could win that award.”
Hanner thanked Elwood Athletic Director David Shanahan, and his assistant coach, Riley, for the work they put in.
Hanner, who also teaches health and physical education at Glenn, then reflected back on the time when his passion for coaching first emerged: college.
After initially majoring in business administration, Hanner said, he changed his major to physical education and in 1995 earned a degree from SUNY Cortland.
Hanner landed his first teaching and coaching job after college at White Plains High School, where he led the boys varsity soccer team for three years.
From there, Hanner moved to the Elwood School District in 1998. He’s worked at Glenn for the past 20 years.
Hanner’s coaching passion has always been soccer, but he also had success as a track coach.
“I also coached winter and spring track for five years at Glenn; I really enjoyed that” Hanner said. “We even had a state champion relay team.”
Hanner currently serves as the president of the Suffolk County Boys Soccer Coaches Association, assistant Section XI soccer coordinator and is a member of the All-American committee for the state.
As both a teacher and a coach, Hanner said there are definite similarities between the two.
“One of my mentors at White Plains always said that coaching is teaching and teaching is coaching,” Hanner said.
He demands a lot out of the kids in the classroom and on the soccer field, but he also thinks it’s important to have fun.
“I’m a firm believer that if the kids aren’t having fun, then they aren’t going to be engaged and they aren’t going to want to learn; it doesn’t matter if you are coaching soccer, coaching track or teaching a health class,” Hanner said.
The coach still keeps in touch with many of his former players, and is always impressed by the successes they enjoy.
“Our goal is to try and develop young men,” he said. “I’m proud of the fact that, I think, we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”