Havre Daily News
After just two seasons as the head coach of the Havre High girls basketball team, Havre native and former HHS great Jason Wirt is stepping down from the Havre High girls program in order to accept a position as assistant principle and activities director at Corvallis High School.
“It was a tough decision for me to make because I really enjoy coaching and I enjoyed working with the kids that I coached over the last two years,” Wirt said. “But this is a great chance for me to advance my career. It was just too good of a position to pass up. I mean I could have passed it up, but an opportunity this good might not come up again for a while. You never know when things like this are going to come along. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity.”
Wirt led the Ponies to a 15-6 record in the 2005-06 season. The Ponies started off 2-4, then reeled off 11 straight wins before losing to Browning in their regular season finale.
The Ponies entered the Central A Divisional tournament as the No. 2 seed and a favorite to qualify for the Class A state tournament. Unfortunately, the Ponies lost an overtime heartbreaker to Livingston in the semifinals. Havre rebounded to win its next two games to finish third, but the Ponies didn't get a chance to challenge so their hopes of a state tournament berth were dashed.
“The thing that made the decision tough was that by taking the job I would have to give up coaching, and that was hard for me,” Wirt said. “It's tough to leave the kids because I have really enjoyed working with them.
“What makes it even tougher is that there are a lot of girls coming back, “ he added. “There are eight girls coming back that played varsity last season and that made the decision extremely difficult.”
Wirt was hired as head coach after the 2003-04 when longtime HHS girls head coach Dennis Murphy retired. Living up to Murphy's legacy was not going to be easy, but in his two years on the job Wirt brought a new level of enthusiasm to the program.
The team struggled in his first season, but he had a young team that he was molding for the future. The team flourished this year under Wirt's watchful eye, and with a number of promising players coming back, the Ponies seemed to be set up for a successful run over the next few years.
“It was tough taking over for Dennis Murphy because of all the great things he did while he was the head coach. So I just tried to come in and do the best job I could,” Wirt said. “I think that after this season we were starting to put something together, which made it so tough for me to make this choice. The future is bright for this program and hopefully the new coach, whoever it is, can keep it going.”
By accepting the job as assistant principle and activities director at Corvallis, Wirt has essentially ended his coaching career. His new responsibilities will be far too time consuming to even think about coaching, and with him being activities director in Corvallis, there would be an obvious conflict of interest.
“I knew when I made the decision that I probably wouldn't be able to coach again,” Wirt said. “But that is something I can live with. I am still going to be working with activities and now my job is to make sure that the activities are run the right way. In education you are always looking to move up the ladder and this is definitely a step up for me. I had to take this step to get my career going in the direction that I want it to.”
Wirt didn't rule out ever returning to coaching, but he says the odds are slim.
“Probably the only way I would ever get back into coaching is if administration doesn't work out for me,” Wirt said. “I really enjoyed coaching and I tried to make the game fun and enjoyable for the kids. I wanted them to work hard and learn to play together and they did that. Hopefully, the kids had a lot of fun playing basketball, and more importantly, hopefully they learned something about life and being a good person.”