Jared Hodl has never been one to shy away from a battle.
The second-year boys basketball coach at Liberty High School has gone through plenty of them on the court as a player and coach, but it’s the battles he’s faced off the court that have shaped him as a leader.
After graduating from Ferris in 2004, Hodl joined the Marines and served as a squad leader in Iraq until a knee injury cut short his tour in 2007.
“In the time of war, you have to stay calm and collected in the most heated of moments,” Hodl said. “So that really transitioned over to being a head coach, because I’m able to adapt and overcome no matter the level of difficulty.”
That includes the double-digit deficit the Lancers faced at halftime in March’s State 2B title game against Brewster, which Liberty stormed back to win 64-55. The title was the second in program history and helped earn the Lancers and Hodl the honor of The Spokesman-Review 2022 Small School Boys Team/Coach of the Year.
“These guys just bonded together so well and knew no matter what depth of a hole they dug themselves into, they would be capable of climbing back out,” Hodl said.
That confidence was bred by chemistry between players. Four of the starters were seniors, led by tournament MVP Tayshawn Colvin.
Colvin, who scored a game-high 28 points in the championship, credits Hodl with implementing a strong level of respect for the coaches and fellow teammates.
“One thing that coach didn’t tolerate was if you don’t respect each other,” Colvin said. “There are obviously times where you can joke, but when a coach is talking or a teammate is talking about the game, you need to respect them because they are trying to make you better.”
The experience on the floor for the Lancers also allowed Hodl to let his players find the flow of the game themselves without having to take a more vocal approach.
“It comes down to watching these kids play AAU ball and how free-flowing they were and how easy they made it look,” Hodl said. “As a player, I had coaches that would really get on you or pull you if there’s a mistake, and I don’t think you can really grow from that.
“I used to be very energetic and loud, but then I took a different mental approach this year and I wanted to let them know that if I’m talking, it’s something really important.”
The Lancers entered the state tournament as the No. 2 seed behind the stellar scoring ability of Colvin, who is undecided where he will play collegiately next season. But one player does not win a state title.
Seniors London Foland and Colton Marsh added secondary scoring options for the Lancers throughout the tournament. Junior transfer Jake Jeske also hit a pair of timely 3-pointers against Brewster.
“Us seniors went through a lot in our careers,” Colvin said. “As sophomores, we were undefeated going into state and to get upset in the first game, we just thought this was our year to win it.
“And then junior year with the pandemic and no state tournament, that was hard for everyone.
“So it just clicked in our brains that we had to appreciate this year and had to go out with a bang, otherwise we may regret it.”
For Hodl and the returning Liberty lineup, the time for reflection is done as summer basketball is already well underway. Hodl said he will have to be more hands-on with this next group, but that doesn’t mean a title repeat is out of their mind or out of the question.
“It’s a reset button in some regards and a bit almost like boot camp,” Hodl said. “Where you get a new group of guys in every week, so you just have to readjust the dial and get them to buy into your philosophy and not make it a hasty process.
“I tell them that our focus is on November and December so that we can be where we need in March.”
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