Chemma gets a jump start on his head coaching goal at Victory Christian
MICHIGAN CITY -- As Scott Chemma was involved in the interview process for the Morgan Township boys basketball coaching job last summer, Victory Christian assistant Todd Thomae, whose son Lincoln plays for the Lions and Chemma's Indiana Game AAU program, raised a simple question.
"Why not here?" Thomae asked him.
After Chemma didn't get the hire at Morgan, the Chesterton High School and Purdue University graduate probably asked himself the same thing.
"I wasn't thinking anything of it," he said.
With former coach Dan Schmidt stepping back after the graduation of his son, Tyler, who is now at Olivet Nazarene, the position was open, so Chemma applied and was hired as associate head coach.
"Todd is the head coach, it's kind of a formality going into a new school," Chemma said. "I coach practices, games, do all the game planning. I'm very fortunate, being 25. There was a transition of an AD, so it was kind of a slow process,
Indiana Game AAU program Director Scott
Chemma is also coaching Victory Christian
Academy this season.
but Todd got me in and we went from there. It's a great opportunity. Lincoln and Flynn (Carlson), both played for us, Caleb Harrell, too. I got to know them really well. I got to know (the rest of) them over the summer and fall. It's been great. They're great kids. They're very respectful. They play hard. They give you their all. That's all you can ask for as a coach."
The younger Thomae, a junior guard who scored 24 points Tuesday in a loss to Marquette, was all on board with the hire.
"It's really nice," he said. "He's really energetic at practices. He's thinking about them throughout the whole day, he comes into practice with a whole game plan. He loves basketball. He's a real basketball guy. He knows what he's talking about."
An accountant with Cleveland-Cliffs in addition to his AAU duties, Chemma has already gained credibility in coaching circles as someone who's in it to develop complete players and student-athletes, not put to pile up points and wins.
"Scott's doing a great job," Marquette coach Ray Tarnow said. "He's a good guy. A lot of times, (AAU) will reinforce bad things you have to try to break, but he doesn't do that. He coaches basketball the right way, as you can tell by his teams defensively. He does that in AAU, too."
In these volatile times, Chemma doesn't look to far ahead, but he's happy to have gotten the chance.
"It's my goal to be a head coach," he said. "We'll see how long I'm here. Hopefully they keep me around."
The Valparaiso school is not a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, but has gone to great lengths to strengthen its schedule with the likes of 21st Century, Bowman Academy, Hammond, Culver Academy and Calumet all on the slate. It turned some heads with a 65-61 win over 21 on Nov. 23. VCA (4-2) then didn't play for 17 days, returning last week from a quarantine that sidelined the program.
"It was weird going through the start of the season, then it stops, and we've got to get back into it," Thomae said. "We get overlooked a lot. Every chance we get to prove something, we try to."