Coach of the Year honor highlights Horizon success story

Horizon Christian School Coach Darrin Lingel last month was named the 2012 Oregon Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year for 1A boys basketball. The honor came after Lingel led his varsity boys squad to a 28-4 season and a 1A state championship; the first state title the Horizon Hawks have claimed in school history.

Lingel took over coaching the Hawks in 2009, in the footsteps of coach Ron Haynes, under whom he coached as an assistant the previous year. Haynes is credited with starting Horizon’s basketball program from scratch under difficult conditions, when numbers were much smaller and the team didn’t have a gym of its own to practice or play in.

Lingel’s first year of coaching was a rough one. The team went 2-22 and suffered some agonizing defeats against schools with bigger numbers and more experience. The second year was slightly better; the Hawks won four games and lost 20. The following year the team made it to the district tournament. Last year the team won its district and made a first-ever trip to the state tournament, where it placed sixth.

This year the team again won its district tournament and finished undefeated at state to win the 1A Oregon title.

“It’s really an amazing story,” said Oscar Stenberg, Horizon Christian School athletic director. “When Darrin inherited the team it was such a different program. Coach (Ron) Haynes started it with just three players from Horizon and four home-school kids. He even ran with the kids to help get them in shape. Four years later we’re winning the state championship. It’s just an amazing testament to our coaches, the players and the spirit and faith we have at Horizon.

“He’s just a giver; that’s his style of coaching. He’s upbeat and positive and he truly wants the best for our kids. He’s a great role model for our young men.”

Lingel owns Papa Murphy’s pizza shops in Hood River and The Dalles.

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Along with quality coaching, Stenberg credits Horizon’s new school — and, specifically, new gym — as a major factor in the rise of the school’s basketball program.

“We now have a junior varsity boys team, too.” he said. That team went undefeated last year and looks to provide a bright future for the varsity program. “It’s like the saying, ‘if you build it they will come.’ I guess we should have built the gym a long time ago.”

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