HAMMOND | Munching on stale peanuts, and maybe an occasional yawn, Drew Trost looked down on the planet far below in the summer of 2005. As Chicago came into sight, not much was planned.
Just some days in the sun with his college buddies. Really, not much else.
Or so Trost thought.
Then, his college roommate at Valparaiso University, Jason Hawkins, spoke. It was like the bush was on fire but it wasn't being consumed.
"There's a math opening at Bishop Noll," Hawkins said. "They need a head basketball coach, too. You have an interview on Monday."
Trost, excited, realized he did not have a suit. So he borrowed one from Hawkins. Two weeks later the Salt Lake City native was Noll's coach. Still not 100 percent sure, he spoke with the head coach at Las Vegas High School, where Trost had been an assistant the season before.
The school with 4,800 students went 33-4. But they never had more than 400 fans at a game. The coach told Trost one very important thing: "There is something special about Indiana basketball."
So at the age of 24, Trost became the youngest head coach in Hoosierland.
"When I first met him he looked as young as I did," said Jason Chorba, a 2008 Noll grad who is now playing at St. Joseph's College. "I was confused at first. I was thinking, 'This is our coach?'"
Trost's parents are originally from Kankakee, Illinois. But the love of skiing took them out west, where Drew was born. He played high school basketball at Intermountain Christian School in Salt Lake City, where his team made it to the state tournament all four years he was there.
"During basketball it was hard to find the time for skiing," Trost said. "There are a lot more outdoor adventures out there than here."
But Bryce Drew brought Trost to Northwest Indiana. Captivated by Valpo's NCAA Sweet 16 run, Trost enrolled at VU hoping to walk on for the Crusaders.
Trost's father had gone to Notre Dame, so the son applied at both universities. VU gave the valedictorian the best scholarship.
Hawkins was a member of the Crusaders team. Trost realized the life of a walk-on wasn't for him. But Hawkins' teammate at Noll, Keenan Browder, was starring at Calumet College for coach Nate Pomeday, who was starting the Crimson Wave's program.
Pomeday played four years at Northwestern and is now an assistant coach at Oregon State. He asked Trost to transfer to Cal College and play for him after seeing him play ball with Hawkins and Browder.
Trost did and played one year at Cal College.
"I went to Valpo and watched Drew work out with Jason and his friends," said Pomeday, who coached Cal College from 2000-04. "At that time we were growing a new program. I needed a high character kid, like Drew, who knew the game and who worked hard. He really helped us out the one year he was there.
"We've had a lot of conversations since he took over at Noll. He's always been curious to learn. He's great at taking a group of young men and leading them toward one goal."
Pomeday said beating teams like Bowman Academy, E.C. Central and Valparaiso, like Noll has this year, doesn't come from dumb luck. Hardly.
"It does not surprise me at all that Drew is having the success that he is," Pomeday said.
After returning to Valpo for one final year, Trost got his first coaching job at Chesterton, coaching the eighth-grade team. A youngster named Zack Novak starred for the team that went 21-0.
Noll went 6-15 in Trost's rookie season. He said he had much to learn about game coaching. But it didn't take long for the success to start flowing.
In Chorba's final two seasons, the Warriors went 9-13 and 19-5, earning Trost his first sectional crown in 2008.
"I think coach really learned to trust his players more, especially the seniors," Chorba said. "He prepared us very well and he came up with a good game plan. But he allowed us to make plays more and decisions on the floor.
"It's great to see how far the program has grown and I'll be pulling for them this Saturday."
Drew and his wife, Christy, have walked outside of Noll's gym several teams this season and looked to the sky. For two reasons.
"Things have been going so good that we're waiting for the lightening to strike," Trost said. "But God has been good to us this year and we're very grateful for that."
Christy's older brother played with Drew on the same high school team in Utah. They never dated in high school, but Drew went with them on a family vacation and sparks flew.
They bought a home in Schererville this year and eight months ago had their first child, Aubrey.
And when Christy joins the large Noll fan base at Saturday's Class 2A Huntington North Semistate, where No. 2 Noll will take on No. 3 Tipton, she will bring along the Trosts' second child, scheduled to be born in August.
And just for kicks, Drew is finishing up his Masters degree at IUN, too.
"He makes it a point to take me out on a date once a week," Christy said. "On Saturday mornings he always has his one-on-one time with Aubrey. It's a great balance for him. It gives him perspective.
"Win or lose, he knows I will always be proud of him. I will love him. Aubrey will love him and that's the most important thing."
Once a week, all season, Christy cooks a meal for the Warriors and their coaches, where they sit and have a family-style dinner together. She's made pulled pork and Italian sandwiches, tacos and various kinds of pasta.
They talk about the good and bad things that have happened to all the players that week. Trost gives Bible lessons and life lessons to the Warriors.
His devout Christian faith is not held down at the Hammond Catholic school.
"God has been great to us," Trost said. "God is always put first in what we do. We start every practice with a prayer. It keeps our kids grounded. I'm very grateful to be a part of a Christ-centered education.
"I was raised that way, but I did some searching of my own. From that standpoint I found that the Bible was true. And I went from there and developed a personal relationship with God."
Trost is still extremely competitive and he wants nothing more than to beat Tipton and advance to the state championship game at Conseco Fieldhouse.
But he always know there are more important things than that.
"I want my players to become successful young men," Trost said. "God is a very important part of life and that's more important than winning a state championship."