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Truax finds the direction home, returns to coach HCC

April 29, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

People get directions in different ways.

Travelers use maps and explorers use compasses.

But Terry Truax believes in two advisors - one spiritual, the other who seems to pop up whenever he is about to make a career decision.

And the pair - God and his former coach, Jim Brown - seemed to come together in their own powerful ways Saturday when the 62-year-old Hancock native chose to move back to Washington County and become the new men's basketball coach at Hagerstown Community College.

"I think everything happens by chance," Truax said. "I think there is someone upstairs calling the plays, an invisible hand that controls it all."

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Truax's playbook had him coming back to HCC. It was a chance to return home and a chance to give back to a community that gave him his athletic start. It was a chance to rebuild a program that was put on the map by Brown, who coached Truax at Hancock High School and led HCC for 23 years before his retirement in 2002.

Why?

Because Brown gave him the direction.

"Coach Brown called me and told me of the opening," said the former Towson State coach who is now an English professor and basketball coach at the Patterson School, a prep school in Lenoir, N.C.

"He was totally out of the loop when it came to my hiring, but he was the one that called me."

The paths that Brown and Truax have followed have gone different directions, but always have managed to angle back and cross over the years.

It started as Truax was graduating from Hancock.

"I wanted to go to (West Virginia) when I graduated, but Coach Brown told me I wasn't going to be the next Jerry West," Truax said. "He told me to go to Maryland. He got me going the right way and here I am, set for life."

Truax left the area for good at that point, with the exception of a few family visits. He played at Maryland, started his coaching career as an assistant at DeMatha High School with Morgan Wootten and went on to work under Dean Smith at North Carolina.

He worked at a number of highly visible programs until he got the call to take on his own program.

"When I went to Towson, I didn't know the difference between Division I and II. It was all Division I to me," Truax said. "He told me about the job. And what they expect here is exactly what they expected of me at Towson."

Truax spent 14 years at Towson, posting a record of 202-203 with two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Once he left Towson in 1997, he has managed to pick up a well-rounded and varied coaching background, ranging from coaching pro players in South Korea to high schools to a 12-year-old girls rec-league team.

It all took him to the Patterson School.

Truax said he elected not to pursue the Hawks position when Brown retired in 2003 because Brown's son, Barry, was in the running for the job.

There was no stopping him this time ... and Brown made sure he knew the opening was there.

But Truax admitted he knew of HCC and its tough stand on academics long before now.

"Few people know this, but I got in a bad car accident while I was at Maryland," Truax said. "I had to miss a semester and I came to HJC once a week to take an English class. It wasn't easy. HCC is no free pass and now with the (administration) in place here, it will be easy to sell the education and the college."

That's because Terry Truax has the direction he plans to follow already mapped out.

"I've been blessed to live in some good places," he said. "But my decision to go there has been because of the people and their integrity. I left after living here for 18 years and have rarely come back. I see a genuine chance here to give back. I think I can. If Coach Brown and Coach (Irv) Easterday hadn't helped me, I don't know where I would be."

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