Justin Hohn and Noah Freidel have been friends since middle school, and all that time they shared the same dream.
Playing high school basketball for Coach Chris Fechner and the Tea Area Titans.
“Me and J have been best friends since like 8th grade. I love him to death, it’s so fun playing with him,” said Freidel.
In fact, this dream has been such a part of their life story, that they recently stumbled upon a piece of their own history that they had forgotten about.
“I wrote a letter to myself back in sixth grade that I hope to play Division One basketball, and we’re supposed to read them this year, but I came across mine early,” said Hohn.
“My teacher was Mr. Fechner’s wife, and she came up to me a couple games ago and said that ‘In your time capsule you said you wanted to go play college basketball.’ I didn’t say division one, I just said college basketball and to win two state championships, so mine is still possible,” said Freidel.
Six years later, these two friends, and their middle school dream has transformed from a time capsule wish into reality.
Despite all the changes, they’re allowing themselves to enjoy this moment in time.
“I wish we could play with them longer, it’s crazy that it’s already senior year and we only have about half a season left,” said Freidel.
Next year, Hohn will play division one basketball at the University of California Irvine.
While Freidel also will take his talents division at Wright State.
“You don’t hear them talking about hey I’m D1, I’m going here or going there, I mean this group of guys they’re very close, they’ve been playing together so long,” said Head Coach Chris Fechner.
It will be the end of an era for Tea.
It’s also the end for Hohn and Friedel. They’re two of nine seniors on the team who are graduating. They earned a state title two years ago and worked hard but fell just short last year.
“Our sophomore year, we were a young team, we started four sophomores and we’ve made it to two state championships with those four sophomores so the experience is back,” said Freidel.
“We push each other day in and day out and we have been since we were 12-13 years old, but it’s starting to pay off and it feels good.,” said Hohn.
“We can spend less time working on some things and more time on others just because of the experience,” said Fechner.
The end is also in sight for the man who made dreams for Noah and Justin and countless others come true. Coach Fechner is hanging up the whistle and walking away from the court.
“I had said last summer that this is going to be my last year,” said Fechner.
A new challenge awaits the coach, in Iowa.
“It doesn’t change the focus of what we’re trying to do. I wanted to finish out the school year here and coach these guys. It was important to stay one more year,” said Fechner.
“He left a dynasty that’s for sure, we’ve completely done a 360 and it’s just nice to see what he did and finally reward him,” said Hohn.
But while change is coming for the Tea Titans, some things stay the same. Like the desire to bring another state title back to this school and this community.
“Every year the goal is to win a state championship, obviously. But, it would be super special to win it with this group of guys that we’ve had for so long, Coach Fechner’s last year here in Tea. To leave with a bang, yeah that would be awesome,” said Freidel.
A lot of times sports isn’t just about the play. It’s about having the heart to make the play. And wanting to win for someone else….just as badly as you want to win for yourself. Middle school dreams can lead to big things…...
“Yeah we have all the pieces in place for sure. I think as seniors we owe it to ourselves, and we own it to our town, and we owe to the school and the community and everyone to bring another banner that says state champions,” said Hohn.
Coach Fechner and his family are moving to Iowa following this season. He says he hopes to continue his coaching career and said he would even be interested in coaching at the junior or community college level.