Tony Ford did not return to the high school boys’ basketball coaching staff with the intention of taking over for a legend.
Ford was an assistant for the high school boys’ team in 2016, helped the girls’ team in 2017 and 2018 and coached middle school basketball for three years.
He returned to Fred Lorensen’s staff last year and expected the long-time PCM coach to be around for a while.
“I didn’t come back to the boys’ program with the intention of being the head coach after Fred decided to be done, but I was asked about it by some community members,” Ford said. “In my mind, Fred was always going to be there. I never had that thought.”
Well, Coach Lorensen decided in the offseason to hang up his whistle after three decades of leading the Mustangs. And Ford was named the new head coach.
He will be the second head coach in program history.
“I’m really excited,” Ford said. “I just knew I wanted them to keep playing. So I stayed with the summer program with Fred. I didn’t know even when the spot came open. My thought was that if the school wants me to coach, then I will coach and I will do the best I can.”
Lorensen built a program that included a state championship, several state tournament appearances and a plethora of conference titles.
But Ford takes over the Mustangs after they posted their first losing season in at least 18 years.
“The program has been built. The players we have are ready to win now,” Ford said. “They’re good. We have really good athletes and really good young men. I think highly of all of them.
“We will continue to do what we do but also mix it up a little bit. We will challenge some of them in different ways and re-evaluate all of them because we are going to do some things differently.”
Ford didn’t know anything about Lorensen’s decision to retire from coaching. He told him the day before he told the team it might happen though.
Either way, Ford follows in the footsteps of a legend. And that can be intimidating.
“I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous. But I’m excited at the same time,” Ford said. “I know I won’t coach as long as Fred did. I don’t think I have the stamina for that.”
Ford sees the transition to a new coach as a hand-off. Lorensen raised the standard and the expectation. He’s made the program what it is for so long, and Ford wants it to be about more than just basketball.
“Everyone who has played for Fred says they’re a better person for having gone through the program,” Ford said. “When you follow a legend, there are certain things you don’t want to change and those are some things I don’t want to change.
“Getting involved more is something I want to do. The boys are going to referee youth games this summer and we will work the concession stand during the girls’ game and support them so their parents can watch them play their games.”
Ford’s first coaching staff will include some familiar faces and a brand new name to the district.
Darrin Telfer returns to the staff as an assistant and the JV1 coach. Brian Steenhoek comes over from the PCM girls’ staff and will be the assistant varsity coach. Jake Berger comes aboard and will be an assistant and the JV2 coach.
Contact Troy Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org