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Gehlen Catholic Boys Basketball Coach Mike Langel to Retire at End of Season

Mike Langel coaches the Jays during a timeout. Photo courtesy: Gehlen Catholic School

Following 18 seasons as Gehlen Catholic’s varsity boys basketball head coach and 26 years in coaching, Mike Langel is calling it a career at the end of the season.

Langel’s career in coaching started down the ladder at the junior high ranks with teams his sons played on. He says, at that point, he had no idea he would move up the ladder to the varsity ranks someday.

The climb began with former Gehlen Catholic head coach Luke Sauer who offered Langel the opportunity to join his high school staff as a junior varsity coach. Langel says that move meant a lot to him and showed him the need to put in a lot of time into the job.

Langel’s time at the junior varsity level offered him the opportunity to learn the x’s and o’s of the game. More importantly, Langel says it taught him how to relate to kids and address their needs off the court.

In his early coaching years, Langel gleaned coaching information from many different sources to make him better. He learned a lot from Sauer who he got to work under, but he learned more from the late Tom Skram who took the Jays to their only state tournament in 1983 and coached Langel in high school. Langel used the information from both men to help turn up the tempo in the way the Jays played the game.

Langel was an all-state defensive lineman for the Jays in their undefeated 1977 season and graduated with the third most rebounds in a career in Gehlen basketball history. Ahead of the 2005-2006 season, Langel was given the opportunity to coach his alma mater at the varsity level. He says that opportunity took him by surprise.

The plan was simple for Langel going into that season; coach his son for one season to hold down the fort until someone else could take it over full time. He says that plan fell apart once he fell in love with the kids he got to coach.

Langel says the best parts of the job are the few minutes leading up to tip-off. He says that was his favorite time because he got to go back in time and relive that feeling he had as a high schooler when he was playing for the Jays.

The most important lesson Langel instilled into his players was not the best form for a jump shot or how to play a man-to-man defense. His best lesson came off the court when teaching his athletes about respect.

Anyone who knows the coaching ranks knows it takes a strong support system to get through a long and busy sports schedule. Langel says that support system came from his wife Kelli who was there for all the ups and downs that the game threw their way.

That support system extends to his four kids who have now taken on the family business of coaching.

Once November rolls around again next year, things will be different for Langel who will not have practices or games to prepare for. The thing he will miss the most is the comradery that came with his players and coaches.

Langel’s career will finish with over 270 wins in a little over 400 games as the head coach of the Jays.