Center Grove High School Varsity Basketball Coach Zach Hahn aims to lead the team to their best season possible
By Nicole Davis
The first time Zach Hahn stepped foot into Center Grove High School for a basketball game, he says he felt inspired.
“The place was packed,” he said. “It was youth basketball night. I saw the passion that Center Grove had. I thought to myself, that would be a great place to coach someday.”
The following year, that opportunity came about. Hahn was hired as head coach for varsity boys basketball at Center Grove High School in 2014.
“I was lucky to get it without any head coaching experience,” Hahn said. “I was totally different from what they previously had. They had two experienced coaches before me. I was the young, energetic guy in my interview. That was my goal, to come across as something different. Obviously it worked. I was really grateful for them in believing in me and giving me my first opportunity to be a head coach.”
Hahn grew up in New Castle, Ind., attending New Castle Chrysler High School where he played basketball, won a state championship his junior year and was an Indiana All Star. Both of his parents were teachers and coaches and the reason he chose to pursue that same career path.
“I always thought the stability and the idea of being part of a community is something really special,” Hahn said. “I got that from what my parents did as teachers and coaches. I saw the life they were able to give me growing up and I couldn’t ask for anything better. That’s something I want to give to my kids.”
He played college basketball at Butler University, a member of the team that had back-to-back trips to the national championship game. After graduation, he was hired at Ben Davis where he served three years as assistant basketball coach and a physical health & education teacher.
Hahn now resides in Greenwood with his wife, Lindsey, and two children, Camden, 6, and Riley, 3. Since coming to Center Grove, Hahn has celebrated more than 100 victories with the varsity basketball team. In his fifth year coaching, his team won regionals and made it to the final four. This year, his seventh year, they have won county and are currently competing in sectionals.
“As a coach and as a player, Zach has been involved in some of the biggest moments on the courts,” stated CGHS Athletic Director Jon Zwitt. “That experience – especially early in his career – is invaluable. He matches that knowledge and understanding of the game with tenacity. His energies, his dedication and his overall belief in his players is beyond commendable.”
Hahn said his favorite team he’s ever coached has been this year’s.
“They’re a pretty resilient group, extremely versatile and they really care about each other,” Hahn said. “When you combine those three things, every game you feel like you have a chance. We’ve been right there with top five teams all year. It’s been a fun and rewarding year for these guys to see them play for each other, play for the name on the front of the jersey which is Center Grove.”
That resiliency showed when the team had to take 21 days off in the middle of the season after a competing team member tested positive for COVID-19.
“We came right back and found our stride,” Hahn said.
The boys varsity basketball team won its sectional championship on March 5 and will go to regionals on March 13.
Hahn describes himself as extremely competitive. When he first started his coaching career at Ben Davis, he said he was intense and passionate to a fault. He says he has learned to be more laid-back and let the players make mistakes to allow them to grow. He continues to practice not getting caught up in wins and losses and instead worry about the process.
“Zach has the ability to analyze challenges and find solutions,” Zwitt stated. “He is a competitor with a winning mindset. He sets expectations – for himself and for his teams – and finds ways to motivate his players to accomplish those goals.”
Outside of competitions, Hahn said the school staff have worked to make changes to the youth program such as bringing the youth program under the Center Grove basketball family and having teams play mixed schools at the middle school level.
“We’ve really tried to build our feeder system so when these kids get to the high school level, they’re used to playing the style we have to play and playing the talent we have to play night in and night out,” he said.
Hahn said he truly enjoys what he’s doing, and he intends to continue doing his best everyday to prepare his team to play the best season possible. His goal each year, and definition of a good season, is to win all of the games they’re supposed to and a few that they’re not.
“The biggest thing with coaching basketball and other sports is the relationships you have with your players and staff,” he said. “The people that are with you in the locker room, day in and day out, that’s the thing that makes coaching fun. When you work on something and see results, or the kids get results and they have success, those are the things that stand out most to me. It’s pretty rewarding.”
Getting to know Zach Hahn…
Hobbies: I’m an avid golfer. I could play golf eight days a week and twice on Sunday. I also like to play cards, all kids of card games from Gin to Texas Holdem to Blackjack. I love all sports and I love to compete.
Favorite personal basketball career moment: When I was a sophomore in college, I hit a three pointer in the final second of the game to give our team the win. We were down one and I hit a three at Cleveland State to win the game. It was number one on Sports Center’s Top 10 Plays. It’s one of those things you dream of as a kid, to get the last second shot and get to watch it on TV.
Favorite tv show: The Office. I appreciate the dry sense of humor it can have at times. Michael Scott – Steve Carell – is one of my favorite actors.
What would we be surprised to learn about you? From afar, I think people think I’m very serious. But once you get to know me and I let my guard down a little bit, I think I have that prankster, joking personality. Probably one of the only reasons my wife married me is because I’m funny.