I think of myself as a family man, writing teacher, and a basketball coach. Coaching basketball is one of the most meaningful ways I spend my time. As a coach, one of my guiding principles is to try and create a positive atmosphere in which young people can develop habits that will serve them well in life. These habits include setting and pursuing goals, developing meaningful relationships, and persevering through adversity. I try to come to practice each day with a thoughtful plan, a focus on the details, and great enthusiasm.
I grew up in a small town in Indiana the son of two English teachers, and my dad was a coach. My earliest memories are of sitting across the gym floor from my dad pretending as if I was the one coaching the games. I attended Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Illinois with plans to be an English teacher and a high school boys basketball coach. After playing at Olivet for four years, I student taught my fifth year and served as an assistant basketball coach at the university where I played. Following that year, at the age of twenty-two, I became a head boys basketball coach and seventh grade language arts teacher at North Miami High School in Indiana. After five years at North Miami, I served as an assistant basketball coach at Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That team made it to the final four of Indiana’s largest class.
After spending my first thirty years of life in Indiana, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina for some adventure and to attend graduate school at the University of North Carolina Charlotte where I earned an MA in English Education. While in Charlotte, I met my wife Megan Torgerson who is an elementary teacher and literacy specialist. I also served as an assistant coach for the 2002 Class 4A state champion basketball team at Vance High School. On the way to the championship, that team defeated a team that featured NBA All Star Chris Paul.
Following the state title, I took time away from basketball to pursue writing. I earned what is called an MFA in creative writing from Georgia College and State University. After that, I was hired for a tenure track job in the Institute for Writing Studies at St. John’s University in New York City. During my time at St. John’s, I had three books of fiction published, also published in a variety of genres, won a prize in a screenplay competition, directed several independent documentaries, and earned tenure.
Although I thought I was finished coaching basketball, it was my daughters who brought me back to the game. My first daughter Charlotte was born while we were in Georgia, and my second daughter Isabel during my time teaching at St. John’s. I signed Charlotte up for second grade basketball at the local YMCA in New Canaan, Connecticut where we were living, and it should be of no surprise that they had trouble finding a coach to work with the girls. Because I was a regular at lunch time pick up games, the staff at the YMCA knew I had basketball experience. Starting with my work with those second grade girls, I could see more and more how basketball could be used as a vehicle to give young people positive experiences including how to learn to set and pursue goals, respond to adversity, and build meaningful relationships among their peers.
Currently, we Torgs live in Boone, North Carolina where I teach as a lecturer in the English Department at Appalachian State University and am an assistant coach for the Watauga High School girls program. Here in Boone, my family and I have found the right balance of work, basketball, and family time. If we get a free day, we love to go for hikes and explore the backroads of the High Country in the family Jeep.