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By Ray Castellanos
Courier Reporter 

Cascade Proud to Boast Two Coaches of the Year, 2022-2023

 

Ray Castellanos

Coach Jeff Mortag

Editor's note: What an honor for a school and a community to have one of their coaches be recognized as "Coach of the Year"! But when two of their coaches get that recognition in the same year, well, we just have to brag! So we asked two people who are close to these gentlemen to share with us what makes these men worthy of this recognition.

Mike Moore, Cascade Boy's High School Class 10-C Coach of the Year – 2022-2023

From the hardwood to the golf course and everywhere in between, Mike Moore has been a true Badger and community leader, coaching boys and girls' basketball, golf, and softball, for over 30 years!

Mike's calling to be a coach comes from his love for sports and knack for helping others and developing kids into athletes. He's been coaching for decades, having coached many students starting in elementary school with them, later playing for him when they enter high school. Mike is known for seeing kids walking around town and personally buys extra basketballs to hand them the next time he sees them with encouragement to practice and hopes to see them on his team when they're older. He believes in starting young and working hard to develop their skills to become not only great athletes, but all-around great people.

Mike enjoys it when parents share pictures taken of him coaching their kids, from the days at the Wedsworth Hall and in middle school to now, seeing them step onto the court in high school, seeing how much the kids have grown and how many years Mike has been there with them along the way. Mike has a huge heart and is the first to be there to help anyone. From open gyms to extra help before or after practice, the kids know they can call Coach Mike and he'll be there. What many don't realize is the extra time spent outside of the gym watching film, strategizing plays and planning for the next game, and how much time is spent caring for the development for each of his players.

Mike has sacrificed so much over the years and deserves all the recognition of being a great coach, role model, and community supporter. Each year is different and brings new excitement for what the season will hold for the team.

This year the boys' team won 2nd place at Districts and fought hard in the Divisional Tournament. All of the kids improved and worked well as a team, overall having an incredible and hard-fought season, losing by a close score to only Heart Butte in their District Conference.

Mike Moore was awarded Coach of the Year being recognized for his coaching and leadership both on and off the court. However, if there were an award for Coach of the Decades, his name would be at the top of the list for all he has done for Badger sports!

He is a true inspiration and his love for coaching and impact he has made on the players and in the community over the years is truly unmatched! His dedication, commitment, and love for the Black and Gold is appreciated beyond words and noticed by all.

Congratulations, Mike Moore and great job to the team this season! We look forward to next year and could not be prouder!

Jeff Mortag

Coach Jeff Mortag had the honor of being selected as the Woman's basketball 10C Coach of the Year for 2022-2023. Anyone who has attended a Cascade Ladies Basketball game over the past 8 years can't help but notice Jeff's passion for the game and his concern for the athletes, both on and off the court. His intensity is reflected in his many "Jeff-isms" coming from the coach's box, but also in the players' ability to translate his vision into success on the court.

Jeff's love of the game started at an early age from when he started watching Celtics legend Larry Bird, whom he still reveres today. He played basketball in Junior High and High School for the Cascade Badgers, on Intramural teams at MSU-Bozeman and played with a group of friends from the MT Air National Guard. In high school Jeff and his friends would often be found playing basketball, one-on-one, HORSE or whatever, on the stage of the North Gym during lunch or breaks, even during basketball season. Rich Schubert shared, "Jeff was competitive and always knew what the coach should be calling in basketball, much more than I did; it was obvious that he understood and loved the game."

The MT Air National Team won the National Guard Tournament several years in a row, as well as playing and winning in the city league in Great Falls for many years. "Jeff would tell me to wake up and get mad," his teammate Tyson Frost recalls ,"then I would play better because he told me to get mad. I could never get mad like Jeff on the court though. He excelled at that!" It's that determination and focus that helped Jeff motivate his teammates and helps him motivate the teams that he coaches.

Jeff started coaching by helping Jack Spurzem when his oldest daughter Georgia was in the 2nd grade and joined the Ulm Heisey Team. Jeff loves coaching, not just his daughters, but all the athletes, and sharing his love of the game. Georgia said, "You will never find someone more passionate about the game than my Dad. He cares so much about the game and the players. One of the best things I ever got to do was play for him, except for when he was coaching me on how to play with my left hand... No one deserves this recognition more than he."

Ray Castellanos

Coach Mike Moore

Jeff started coaching for the Cascade Lady Badgers in 2015 as an assistant to Gary Lucero, and then to Roger Hatler. In 2020, he was selected for the Head Coach position. The Lady Badgers have placed in the top 3 in Districts, qualifying for Divisionals, during each year of his tenure. This accomplishment is largely attributed to the passion, dedication and hard work. He dedicates such a large portion of his every day to researching, planning and preparing for the success of the team - not just during the regular season, but all year long. Jeff makes it his mission to provide every opportunity to each and every player to get a ball in their hand and to ultimately become the best basketball player they can be. Assistant Coach Karsen Floerchinger said, "This honorable award is so well deserved. My entire coaching career has been alongside Jeff, and I feel so honored to have had him as my 'teammate'. We share many of the same fundamental ideas and strategies of basketball and, most importantly, our love of the game. The girls Jeff coaches are so lucky to have a coach so passionate about not only the success of the team, but of instilling them with a lifelong love for the game as well. If you ask me, that alone constitutes a great coach, and definitely one deserving of the title 'Coach of the Year'."

 

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