BOZEMAN — Mark Twain once wrote, “It’s not the size of the dog in a fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
Twain could have easily been writing about Seth Kraft, who was born with dwarfism. But from a very young age, Kraft wanted to be involved with the sport that features the tallest athletes in the world.
“I just kind of fell in love with basketball,” Kraft said. “A lot of my friends started playing around third grade and so I just kind of got into it and fell in love with it ever since.”
Kraft, who is now 20 years old and a junior at Montana State, is the seventh-grade basketball coach at Sacajawea Middle School.
“He’s a good guy and he likes to get everybody to play,” said seventh-grader Drew Midner, “and he likes winning and getting us to the highest rank as possible.”
“He’s good. He’s a good coach,” added Trent Rogers. “He’s just really into the game. I mean, he really loves the game, and he’s a good coach.”
“I think I’d like to be a coach in the future,” Kraft said. “I mean, I’m coaching now and I’d like to maybe coach in my early years before I start my occupation — what I want to do in future life. But maybe do it as an aside, too, and in a few years, if I ever retire and am living comfortably, start going back into coaching again.”
“Kids like him and he’s real enthusiastic, encouraging,” said Scott Mayer, the eight-grade basketball coach. “It’s really fun to have him out here.”
Kraft, who is shorter than any player on his team, is also understanding with his kids when they’re scrimmaging against bigger and more talented players.
“You know, you have to earn their respect, though, and I think I’ve earned it,” Kraft said. “We have done pretty well this season and I think that’s what earns respect: how well you do and how you treat the kids.”
Kraft served as the manager for his high school team at Laurel and actually got to play in a game his senior year. It’s helped him become an even better coach.
“Just being competitive — I think always wanting the best for me and the team,” he said. “I mean, basketball is a team sport and you always want to win. That’s the main focus of any athletic thing you do and that’s just helped me life. Basketball is a great sport that helps you with life because you always want to be the best. You always want to do good.
“I’ve had great coaches influence me and, you know, I just love coaching. I love the strategic part of it, the working out, the winning, the losing, I love all of it. So it’s been really fun for me. It’s given me something to do in my off time. It’s just a great experience.”
Mark Twain was right: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight.