Bob Mattix has been coaching for more than 40 years, has learned from the best and has been an integral part of molding young men.
The former Hobart football star coached across the state, with stops as a head coach or assistant at Portage, West Central, Wabash and Valparaiso University, but still found that couldn't give up the whistle. Retired from teaching in 2006, Mattix has landed as the defensive line coach for former Portage boss Craig Buzea at Homewood-Flossmoor.
Wherever his coaching career has taken him, he is affectionately known as "Bubba," or "Coach Bubba" to the players.
The nickname didn't come because of his dominating appearance.
"When I played Little League, I was a third baseman," Mattix said. "The White Sox had a third baseman named Bubba Phillips, so people started calling me Bubba. It just stuck.
"Nothing fancy about it. I was a Sox fan, so I guess it was a natural."
What has been natural for him is coaching and doing it with gusto.
"I love teaching and helping kids do better," Mattix said. "When 'Buzz' asked me to go to Michigan City with him and then to Homewood-Flossmoor, I was flattered."
At H-F, Buzea woke up a sleeping giant, reaching the Class 8A semifinals in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011. Many of his staff have a region flavor, particularly a Portage one.
"We all know how hard of a worker Buzz is and he makes sure you do things right," Mattix said. "To be honest, I feel like I am in my 20s when I am out there coaching football."
Mattix recently had knee replacements and spends time at the Portage YMCA doing rehabilitation.
The 1967 Hobart graduate played on Russ Deal's last team and Don Howell's first team, saying he was fortunate to have those two as mentors.
"My brothers (Stew, John and Dave) played for Coach Deal and he was very much a teacher as much as coach," Mattix said. "Coach Howell was my position coach and even back then you could see he would be one of the great ones. He too, cared about you as a person as much as a player. Both taught you the values of life.
"I am pretty fortunate to have been around some great coaches and athletes in my career."