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Learning lessons along the way, Eric Speer, ‘a rolling stone’, lands at South Central
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BOYS BASKETBALL

Learning lessons along the way, Eric Speer, ‘a rolling stone’, lands at South Central

Eric Speer

Eric Speer was approved as South Central's next boys basketball coach on Tuesday. He says he's learned from his coaching experiences and is excited to coach at "a place that wants me here."

UNION MILLS — Eric Speer is no stranger to the Region coaching scene, and he’s taken away a lot at his different stops.

Now he’ll get to put it all together at South Central, where he was approved as head boys basketball coach on Tuesday during a school board meeting.

“My entire coaching career, I feel like I’ve been a rolling stone,” Speer said. “I was ready to choose a place where I could build a program the way I wanted to and a place that I could be at for the next 10 to 15 years. I think the (Porter County Conference), South Central is that kind of place.

“On top of that, it’s a place that wants me there. Going through what I did with Hammond Morton this year, being at a place that wants me to be there means a lot, so I’m really excited about it.”

Speer led the Governors to a 10-15 campaign this past season at a place where his family has deep roots and he previously told The Times "it's a job I've always wanted." The School City of Hammond opened all coaching positions with the consolidation of Hammond High, Clark and Rogers into Hammond Central and Morton, which hired Aaron Abram as its next coach.

Thirteen years after starting his coaching career as an assistant at Michigan City, it’s become evident that Speer, 32, has developed a blueprint for building his Satellites program. He liked the youth involvement during his time as an assistant at Lake Central.

“I’m really excited to work with our elementary kids, to start doing camps, to build an elementary league, to talk to the middle schoolers,” Speer said, “and those sixth-graders, seventh-graders and eighth-graders are going to see me this summer, are going to see me when they’re seniors. There’s not a lot of movement out here, and they’re going to know the system, they’re going to know what coach Speer is about and they’re going to know the philosophy of the program.”

His motto is simple: “Take the stairs.” Hard work is going to be required of his players from the time they enter the youth program.

“People can expect South Central basketball to be better at the end of the season than they were at the beginning of the season because we’re going to get better every day,” Speer said.

The journey has winded from the Duneland Athletic Conference to Hobart, Lake Station and getting his first head coaching job at Hammond Academy, leading the program to a 5-68 record from 2015-19.

“One thing that I’ve taken from my time at HAST, I’ve taken a lot of things, but one would be that high school sports in general is about relationships and just improving as a person and the small athlete more than it is winning basketball games,” Speer said. “Of course we want to win, everyone wants to win and it’d be foolish not to say that. But I’m a big believer in relationships.”

The same could be said for his one year at Morton, where he credits relationship-building for finishing 10-8 after an eight-game losing streak to start the season. But it also allowed him to develop as a coach and listening and trusting those relationships he was cultivating.

“I think I took a lot of that (my way or the high way) attitude away from myself and brought along patience and a lot more conversation and a lot more involvement with the kids,” he said.

Speer replaces Joe Wagner, who went 34-59 from 2017-21. Speer said he is excited to work with principal and new girls basketball coach Ben Anderson, who confirmed he has added Wagner to his staff. Wagner resigned to focus on finishing his teaching license.

It’s been a “humbling” experience for Speer to receive messages on Twitter and privately from coaches in the area. Most of all, he’s excited to put his different experiences together and build on what he’s learned.

“I think people should know that I’m happy where I’m at now. I’m energetic, I’ve worked really hard to get to this point, and that I’m relationship-first,” he said. “If you see me walking around, I’ll talk to you about anything. … Like everybody else in their lives, we’ve made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes, we learn from them and this is a new chapter for me in my life and I’m excited to pursue it.”

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