By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Ron Hittner continued a legacy with his selection for the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Service to Education Award.
Hittner thanked and honored his father, Gene (and mother, Patty), who was selected for the same award in 1991 for his work in the community as principal of Parrish Middle School.
“Basketball has always been a passion,” Hittner said. “And I learned it by tagging along with my dad when he was a coach. I couldn’t have had better role models or better parents.”
Basketball ended up becoming Hittner’s avenue into working with youth and he’s only rarely taken a break in more than two decades. He started out coaching at Parrish, but took up the role again as a coach for Keizer Youth Basketball Association and served as president for several years. Since then, he’s held roles as assistant coach at Corban University, an organizer and coach of the Mid-Valley Monarchs, and now the head coach of the Blanchet Catholic School girls teams.
In each role, Hittner has tried to stay true to the teachings of his dad.
“It was my dad who taught me that coaching is teaching. He made sure his players were good students and good people first and then good basketball players,” Hittner said.
Basketball provides opportunities for athletes to pick up skills in everything from listening to respect to concentration.
“The concentration is becoming a bigger and bigger piece,” Hittner said. “Because of the way the kids are getting information they’re attention spans are slipping, and you have to concentrate a lot more than 10 seconds to win a basketball game.”
While Hittner tries to impart all those things to his players, he’s also picked up a few tricks from them along the way, not the least of which is the importance of silliness.
“They constantly remind you that they are still just kids and they can say and do something that’s just silly and break up an intense moment. That’s also okay,” he said.
The other things he’s learned from them include the importance of organization and the need for passion. Hittner, who owns Hittner and Associates, a business and technology consulting firm, said there days when work gets stale.
“The girls remind me to change things up and rediscover what I love about it when that happens,” he said.
His many athletes over the years also give him hope for the future.
“Coaching instills in me confidence and optimism for the world going forward. We’re leaving the world in their hands and they are great kids. They’re just amazing young ladies,” Hittner said.