New Viera boys coach keeps things competitive for Hawks


Published:

Viera's Douglas Gearhart (left) and Sam Karman have been the Hawks' top players so far this season.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

It hasn’t taken new Viera High boys coach Gene Trent long to make an impact on the Hawks.

“My philosophy is competition,” Trent said. “When you’re around programs that don’t have that competition, it’s really hard for them to turn it on when it’s needed. Our practices are full of competition. We compete and qualify for matches.

“Once you instill that competition in your team, they take that right to the course.”

Trent has drawn rave reviews from his players, including junior Douglas Gearhart and Sam Karman.

“He’s a little more hands on,” Karman said. “He’s organized. He’s tries to get a lot of matches for us.”

Of course, the biggest question this year’s team must deal with is how to replace No. 1 player Calvin Sierota, who was the face of the program before graduating and moving on to Florida State.

“We’re missing a leader, but we just need more guys to step up, and I kind of feel like it’s my duty as an upper classman to step up,” Gearhart said.

On that same day, the junior went out and shot a season-low 33 to help further cement his spot at the top along with Karman, who was the medalist in an earlier match.

Other top players for the Hawks this season include seniors Billy Barrett and Joe Malatino along with Dylan Melby, Gage Guettler, Jacob Melby, Tino Andrade, Jake Gander, Chase Capik, Christopher Hoffman, Nicholas Reiter, Nitai Zipp, Nimai Zipp and Owen Watts.

Trent, who coached for 12 years in Illinois, said he likes the makeup of his team and is especially happy he has six freshmen who love to play the game.

“It’s really promising,” he said. “I’ve had four matches and I’ve had a freshman be in the top four scorers each of the four matches. That’s impressive. A lot of our young guys have come in with some tournament experience. But again, no clear-cut No. 1 from match to match.”

Karman believes the Hawks have a chance to not only get back to the regionals, but also a possibility of getting to the state tournament. For that to happen, they will clearly need some guys to step up.

Gearhart, who won the first two matches he played in – before shooting his 33 – doesn’t feel any pressure about trying to fill that role.

“After the first match, after performing so well, I felt a lot of confidence,’ he said. “Now, I just take it upon myself to live up to coach’s expectations.”