ValpoLife spent some time talking with the VHS Boys Varsity Basketball team about this season to get their thoughts on:
What game are you most looking forward to playing?
What does it mean to play for the Vikes?
What is the most memorable quote or story you have from Coach Otis?
Zach Meyer said, “I’m looking forward to playing Lake Central. I’ve always looked up to the Vikings and I looked forward to watching them play on Friday nights, and now it’s cool to be on the court. Coach Otis likes to say, ‘Boom! There goes the dynamite’ when anticipating a shot going in.”
John Mosser stated, “I want to play Merrillville. We lost three times to them last year and that does not sit easy with me. Playing for the Vikes is an honor. A lot of good players have come out of Valpo. My favorite Coach Otis quote is, ‘Don’t be short when you’re shooting’.”
Brett Boetel said, “I’m ready to play Merrillville. Playing for the Vikes is like being part of a great tradition. It’s been an honor. The best Coach Otis quote is when he says, ‘Boom!’.”
Tyler Doane said, “I’m looking forward to playing Munster. They will be a challenge, and it was a good game last year. To play for the Vikes means tradition, and thinking about the people that have played before us. ‘Don’t be short,’ is my favorite quote from Coach Otis.”
Brody Wilson stated, “I’m looking forward to playing Lake Central. Playing for the Vikes means tradition. I’m lucky to be a part of it. My favorite thing that Coach Otis says is, ‘Boom! Goes the dynamite.’”
Quentin Palmer said, “I can’t wait to play Lake Central. It’s an honor to play for the Vikes and not many get to do it. ‘Follow through,’ is my favorite Coach Otis quote.”
Jacob Hamer affirmed, “I’m looking forward to the first game of the season. Playing for the Vikes is a fun experience, and we’re a good team. It’s great whenever Coach Otis says, ‘Boom!’”
Justin Osburn said, “Lake Central is the game I’m looking forward to playing. It feels good to wear the Viking uniform. My favorite thing that Coach Otis says is, ‘Boom!’ whenever a three goes up.”
Assistant Coach Ben Lieske said, “I’m excited to play Merrillville. Its’ a great rivalry. Coaching the Vikes is a special experience with how many great players and coaches there are. I get to work with great kids and help them realize their potential as players and people. I’d have to say that my best memories of Coach Otis are the random observations. My first Sectional game coaching with him, we were playing the La Porte Slicers. It was a big game and he was getting ready for the pre-game speech. He said, “I saw five red tail hawks on the way up here. This is a positive omen towards us winning because in their talons were Slicers.’ It was funny at it cut through the tension.”
Assistant Coach Matt Thomas said, “I’m looking forward to playing Munster. I have more respect for that program and the way they run things. They are hard-nosed and well coached. We all played here so coaching the Vikes is paying it forward. We want to keep the great traditions going. I appreciate so many lessons that I learned I didn’t even realize I received till I was well beyond high school. Joe tells the funny story of going to a college basketball game in the Appalachian Mountains and the village idiot did a baton twirling routine with an imaginary baton. At one point he dropped the imaginary baton and the crowd gasped. Crazy Larry. It was a good time.”
Assistant Coach Brent Kimmel said, “I’m looking forward to playing Merrillville. They are a good squad. Valpo is where I played and grew up. You watch the players, become one of the players and then get to coach the players. Here’s a funny story about Coach Otis: We are at a kids’ camp and Joe starts to tell a story of Kareem Abdul Jabbar and that he had two moves; the sky hook and his turn around jumper. Mind you’ these are 1st graders and kindergarten kids and Joe is telling them how many points he had per game and what kind of defenses he went up against. The kids had no idea who Jabbar was. They were probably all thinking about Sponge Bob.”
Finally, Coach Otis said, “I’m ready to play Merrillville because of the rivalry. Coaching the Vikes is a dream come true. I grew up here in the Valpo system, went to summer camps, coached against Skip Collins and Bob Punter and now I am the coach. It really is a dream come true. Valpo has won 51 Sectionals, which is 10th in the state. This is a great program. A quote that I like to tell my players is, “Every good player I’ve known is also the hardest worker I’ve known.”