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20 Under 40: Anthony "Bo" Patton is a mentor in the classroom, on the basketball court and in the community
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20 Under 40: Anthony "Bo" Patton is a mentor in the classroom, on the basketball court and in the community

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As a Merrillville High School teacher and head boys basketball coach, Anthony “Bo” Patton plays a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of leaders.

Although a responsibility he takes seriously, mentoring and coaching his students — especially the boys on his basketball team — is also the most rewarding part of his job, he said.

“It is important to mentor young men in Northwest Indiana because this is where I am from, and if it weren’t for my parents, family and the outstanding coaches and teachers I had in my life, I would be lost and not walking in the purpose God has for me,” Patton said.

As a mentor, he says he does his best to help younger generations tap into their purpose.

Patton, 30 and a Merrillville resident, has taught with the school district since 2013 and has served as a coach for seven years. This year will mark his second year as head coach.

“I try to use the platform God has blessed me with as the first African American head boys basketball coach at Merrillville High School to give God the glory, help these young men develop on and off the court, and teach them to use their current and future platform to inspire others,” Patton said.

As a teacher at the school, he works in the school’s business department and is the leader of the school’s CTE Microsoft Office Certification Program. He is also the sponsor of the Bible Club at the high school.

Outside of the district, Patton is an usher and deacon at his church, True Light International Ministries. He is also a basketball specific skills development coach and mentor for athletes in Northwest Indiana.

“The most rewarding part of being a mentor and coach is the impact and influence I have in those roles to help shape the next generation of leaders and productive citizens in the world,” he said.

However, with his work comes sacrifices, and Patton says the most challenging aspect of being a teacher and a coach is the time spent away from his wife, family and friends.

Giving back

In addition to his teaching, coaching and mentoring, Patton has completed a number of community service projects that have included turkey giveaways at the NWI Food Bank and back-to-school backpack giveaways.

He also recruits his basketball team members to give back. Last year, the team participated in the inclusion dance held at Merrillville High School, and for the final three months of the year volunteered time every Friday to hold a basketball camp for special needs students.

“The team is also active in our feeder system program, Jr. Pirates,” he said. “The coaches and players conducted a free coaches clinic for all coaches, and the players officiated the youth games during the season.”

As part of the Pirates Reading Program, coaches and players on the team go to the district’s intermediate school and promote reading to the fifth and sixth grade students.

“The goal of the program is to promote reading and literacy to students,” Patton said.

These service projects are just some of the many ways Patton works to accomplish his goal of helping as many people as he can. By leading by example, he says he teaches his students and players that it is better to give than to receive and it is important to work hard every day.

“Have faith in yourself, but most importantly, have faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “It is impossible to please God without faith. With that faith, put the work behind it.”

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