BOZEMAN — From being a part of a state championship coaching staff at Bozeman High School to building a new program at Gallatin High from the ground up, Raptors head coach Hunter Chandler is doing it his way.
“Laying down a culture is not easy, but I think for us it’s the most important thing," Chandler said. "It’s all the little things and getting them bought in, and I think they’ve done a really good job of doing so.”
Gallatin High kicked off its first practices last Friday.
“I think excitement's the big thing for us, getting on the field finally and getting the kids out here rolling (is) something we’ve been working for for a long time," said Chandler. "We’ve have had workouts for about 10 weeks so finally getting out here was awesome, having the first practice in history.”
Not all schools are having two-a-days this year, but for the Raptors, Chandler felt it was necessary.
“Two-a-days are big time, not just for practicing and getting football, but I think the team coming together and spending a lot of time with your brothers, with the coaches, so I think that team chemistry and team camaraderie was a big priority for us,” he said.
A state champion defensive coordinator with Bozeman High last year, Chandler is looking forward to building the foundation of the Raptor program.
“Growing up here in the community, this is a special place to be," Chandler said. "Extremely lucky to be here and I think starting something like this up is a great opportunity, and I think the guys I have over here with me is going to be a good thing, it’s going to be awesome.”
The coaches Chandler has brought with him will help the first-year head coach immensely.
“They have a ton of energy," said Chandler. "You need to have a position where you’re hiring people that are better than you and hiring people to set you up for success and I think we’ve done that.”
He also had a lot to take away from Levi Wesche, the Bozeman High head coach.
“That guy is just a worker, really good with kids, cares about them a ton and is just super passionate about the sport," Chandler said. "He does everything the right way. He’s awesome and been a great role model to me, for sure.”
Chandler knows coaching a team of juniors and below will have more downs than ups in Year 1, but being on the gridiron is about more than playing football.
“Later on in life, all those things about being on time, being disciplined, doing the right thing, being a part of a team, that’s what this is really about," he said. "It’s a lot more about character and leadership development than it is about winning the game.”