Coach follows father’s footsteps on court and in the classroom
By Lauren Jette
It’s an interesting thing for a teacher to claim that they have taught the same students as their mother, father, sister and wife.
For Liberty Hill High School boys junior varsity basketball coach and math teacher Blake Boren, that is a statement he can truthfully make.
“What’s really cool is there’s kids who have had my mother in first grade, my sister in second grade, me in high school and my dad and wife now,” Boren said. “They had five Borens as teachers.”
Blake Boren is in his fifth year with Liberty Hill, and third year at the high school after spending his first two years teaching and coaching at the Junior High. His mother and sister both taught at Liberty Hill recently, while his wife, Kristina, teaches English, yearbook and journalism and his father, Barry Boren, teaches English and is the head boys basketball coach at the high school. Kristina is in her first year of teaching, while Barry is in his 13th year.
“That’s really neat to see kids grow from first grade until now, and because this is our 13th year from when we moved to Liberty Hill, there’s kids that I’ve literally seen go all the way through Kindergarten to senior year,” Boren said. “That’s really why I like living in Liberty Hill because in a small town, you get to see that growth.”
Boren has seen quite a bit of Liberty Hill’s growth since his family moved here in 2002 when his dad took the head coaching position for the Runnin’ Panthers.
“We came to Liberty Hill because we wanted a small-town mentality,” Boren explained of the move right before his freshman year.
“I was at a high school that had 4,000 students and going in as a freshman, they were about to build a new high school. It was just a really big area up near Fort Worth and my dad wanted somewhere where I could be successful academically and play sports.”
Boren did experience success in both, playing basketball for his father for four years and graduating fifth in his class of 140 students before heading to The University of Texas, where he obtained his degree. Boren never really took a break from basketball, however, as he coached the Liberty Hill select basketball team during the summers while he was at college, before coming back to teach at the junior high and work as an assistant coach for his father.
“Everybody asks me all the time, what is it like to coach with your dad?” Boren said.
“We’re really lucky that I got to play for him while I was here…because him and I are really close, and coaching with him is very similar. We’re identical people. I don’t know how good or bad that is depending on who you ask, but it’s good getting to coach with him because he’s like my best friend. We get to bounce ideas off each other and the fact that I got to play for him was great.”
Boren’s favorite memory from his days of playing for his dad as a Panther was being on the first Liberty Hill team to make it to the regional tournament.
“My senior year, we had the number one preseason team in the state in our district and we had to play them twice,” Boren explained.
“Ingram Tom Moore (was) the school and we beat them both times. It was huge. There was not an empty seat in our gym. That was just a big moment to win district and go on to the regional tournament, and we hadn’t done that before, so that was really cool.”
Fast-forward four years when Boren found himself on the sidelines with his father once again, but this time as an assistant coach.
“When I first started coaching with him, I wrote down everything he said,” Boren explained.
“It was more I didn’t know when I could give input because I was new and I had played for him, but the whole coaching aspect was somewhat new.
“Now, because I know everything he’s talking about, it’s more hands on,” Boren continued. “If he gets on to a player…I can go talk to an individual player while he’s still coaching and kind of pull them to the side and talk further into what he was telling them. Used to be it was more me still learning from him, but now it’s more taking a roll of helping him more.”
Being a teacher and coach himself now, Boren has taken the example from his father and applied it to his career in both fields.
“I always feel like I’m prepared to teach and prepared to coach and I think I learned that from him,” Boren said. “He’s always prepared. Whether we have practice, or if we have a game, or when he’s teaching, he’s just very structured and disciplined and that’s probably the biggest thing I learned from him.”
Boren admits that sometimes the two coaches butt heads, but they keep the disagreements in perspective.
“There’s times when I’ll pitch an idea to him and he’ll love it and there’s times when I’ll pitch an idea and he doesn’t like it,” Boren said.
“I’m his assistant, so I just take it as my job and move on from there. We definitely do butt heads, but it’s never a father-son butt heads deal, it’s always coach-assistant coach (who) will argue over ideas, but in the end, he’s the head coach and he is my dad, so he wins on those arguments.”
While it would be reasonable to assume basketball takes precedence over the math lessons during the season, which starts in November and will hopefully run through March when the state tournament takes place, Boren is sure to tell his math students otherwise.
“That’s one thing, I think for the last five years, that I’ve told them, I may be a coach and you may call me Coach Boren, but I’m a math teacher and I’m going to try and be a good math teacher,” Boren said.
“I think that goes back to my father. He’s an incredible English teacher and really good basketball coach, but anybody that’s had him as a student will tell you that he was a really good English teacher. That’s what I try to do, I don’t want to just be a coach, I want to be a good math teacher, too.”