Giv­ing spirit key in Hoang’s world

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS INSIDE - PAUL BOYD

ROGERS — Hoang Chau ad­mit­ted he knew noth­ing about bas­ket­ball four years ago when Rogers High boys bas­ket­ball coach Wayne Her­ren ap­proached him about be­ing a man­ager.

He’s learned plenty about the sport since that time, but play­ers and coaches alike agree they’ve learned plenty from him, too.

Her­ren re­called notic­ing a young fresh­man in his Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion class, who sprinted ahead of the group ev­ery day to hold the door

open un­til the last per­son came through. He greeted him ev­ery day with a smile that was in­fec­tious.

“If you were hav­ing a bad day, it just kind of made your day a lit­tle bit bet­ter to see some­thing like that,” Her­ren said. “It is out of the or­di­nary

for some­one to care more about other peo­ple than them­selves. I think that’s Hoang. I think that’s what drew me to him.

“We needed some­one to film the games and I told him that’s a very im­por­tant part of what we do to be able to break down video of ev­ery game. You’re not just hand­ing out a towel or some­thing. He re­ally re­sponded to it. I’ve been here five years at Rogers and Hoang’s been with us four. I can’t be­lieve it’s go­ing to be over soon.”

Chau said be­ing a part of the Moun­ties’ bas­ket­ball team is just like fam­ily.

“Just be­ing with the team is a true def­i­ni­tion of fam­ily means to me,” Chau said. “I want to be like their brother and sup­port them ev­ery step of the way. I just want to do what­ever I can to make this team feel spe­cial.”

His du­ties aren’t lim­ited to film­ing though. Her­ren said Chau will do what­ever they need him to in or­der to help out the team, in­clud­ing step­ping into a drill or two dur­ing prac­tice.

Her­ren fig­ured out just how se­ri­ously Chau takes his du­ties early on when he asked if the young man had any gum prior to a game. Chau didn’t have any gum that day, but he reme­died that in the fu­ture.

“I joked with him ‘ You said you would never let me down, Hoang. This is the first time you’ve let me down,’” Her­ren said. “The next game not only did I have gum, but he had gum for every­one. There’s no telling how much we owe him for gum.”

Sto­ries of his ded­i­ca­tion to his team­mates are end­less. Ear­lier this sea­son, a team­mate for­got his bas­ket­ball shoes to an away. Se­nior Jake Ben­ninghoff said it was Hoang to the res­cue.

“He asked him ‘What size do you wear?’ When he fig­ured out he wears the same size, Hoang gave him his Steph Curry’s to wear,” Ben­ninghoff said.

Her­ren de­cided to re­ward Hoang for a job well done fol­low­ing

his fresh­man year by tak­ing him with the team to sum­mer camp in Lit­tle Rock.

“You don’t usu­ally take man­agers to camp dur­ing the sum­mer, but we, as coaches, thought ‘he can come with us, hang out with the team and have fun,’” Her­ren said.

But he again came to aid of his team with no prod­ding from coaches. Play­ing the third game of the day in a gym with­out air con­di­tion­ing in the mid­dle of the sum­mer, play­ers were suf­fer­ing, Her­ren said.

“Oh, man, we had guys cramp­ing, just swel­ter­ing,” Her­ren said. “I look up and Hoang has tow­els soaked in cold wa­ter in a cooler and he’s meet­ing the guys as they come off the floor. No­body asked him to do that. That’s just him.”

Ju­nior Jaden Uecker said Hoang’s self­less spirit makes him spe­cial.

“He’s just got a will­ing­ness to help peo­ple,” Uecker said. “It’s like a good­ness that most peo­ple don’t gen­er­ally have. He de­serves re­spect from so much he does for us. He doesn’t ask for any­thing in re­turn and we all give him the ut­most re­spect. He de­serves it.”

Her­ren said Chau has trans­formed from a shy kid to one who leads by ex­am­ple. Late last sea­son when the Moun­ties were in the midst of a los­ing streak, Her­ren asked if any­one had any­thing to say and Hoang raised his hand.

“He pro­ceeded to go around the room and tell every­one what he thought they were good at,” Her­ren said. “Just a won­der­ful mo­ti­vat­ing thing. He’s al­wasy a glass half­full kind of guy.”

He also pur­chased gifts for all eight se­niors a year ago on se­nior night to honor them. But Her­ren and the play­ers may have a sur­prise in store for Chau on his se­nior night in late Fe­bru­ary.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF

Rogers High se­nior Hoang Chau, man­ager for the boys' bas­ket­ball team, shoots video Jan. 6 of the game against Spring­dale Har-Ber at King Arena in Rogers.

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