The man, the myth, the legend. Starting at 6 ft something, Neil Chalmers is known for his notorious stories and being easily spotted in a crowd. Chalmers teaches 8th grade social studies along with being the head coach for the boys tennis team. Recently, he turned in his Mock Trial gavel and legal pad for some time on the court rather than in court. After coaching Mock Trial for 18 years, Chalmers wanted to take a step back to be able to spend more time with his family. However, he still wanted to help students be involved in activities they love so he decided to dedicate 20 minutes of each day to go to practice and help coach the boys basketball team. Soon he found himself not being able to leave the court and now spends many hours per week with the team.
This upcoming season will be Chalmers’s eleventh year of coaching tennis, but only his third consecutive year.
“I’m not coaching tennis because I love tennis,” said Chalmers. “I love there is a tennis team for kids to go play.”
Chalmers acted as a “filler coach” wanting to make sure there was a coach so students could play. He doesn’t coach tennis because he is good, he coaches because he wanted students to have the opportunity to have fun. Chalmers started teaching in Blue Earth, the district needed a tennis coach and he needed a job so he took the position as a social studies teacher and tennis coach. Chalmers thrives on making sure his players are good people first.
“I’m much more about being a good person and treating people right then I’m about hitting a little yellow ball well,” said Chalmers. “If the nicest thing I can say about you is you hit the ball well then your not a very good person.”
While Chalmers was teaching in Blue Earth, the principal asked if he would like to coach Mock Trial. Chalmers agreed.
“Mock Trial, it’s always fun putting a bunch of bright kids in a room and seeing what kind of magic you can create,” said Chalmers.
Chalmers spent numerous years coaching Mock Trial, in which he took four different teams to state and lead his teams to countless wins.
“It wasn’t because of what I was doing it was because the kids genuinely cared about each other and did what was best for their team,” said Chalmers referring to the success of previous teams. “Anything could happen at any time.”
Chalmers helps students to success and he truly believes in them not only for their skills but for their passion and dedication as well.
“He was inspiring because he always had so much faith in us no matter what,” said sophomore Katie Holt who had been coached by Chalmers in Mock Trial since sixth grade. “I really admire that because when everyone on the team was losing hope he always said ‘You know what you’re doing, it’s ok.’”
Not only did Chalmers inspire students involved in Mock Trial, but basketball too.
Chalmers is no man to brag about his accomplishments but Chalmers has won many awards himself along with the teams he has played on and coached. It’s not a hard thing to say Chalmers knows his way around the basketball court. He started playing when he was in fourth grade and he even played through his college years at what is now a Division 2 school, where his team made it to the national tournament. Chalmers coached basketball in high school. He was also the assistant coach for his college’s girls basketball team for two years. The team became national champions and set an NCAA record with 45 wins in a row. That all happened while he was still in college.
In his adult life, Chalmers was the head coach for the ALHS girls basketball team for four years. He also coached 8th grade boys basketball and youth basketball.
“I’m a big guy and I can teach them how to play like big guys,” said Chalmers.
Many of his players really enjoy his coaching, whether it’s his motivational attitude, his long and fascinating stories, or the knowledge he brings to the court.
Chalmers teaches his players and students how to be good people and leaders on and off the court.
“He’s taught me how to be a leader for younger guys and guys my age because being a team player is really important,” said Koby Hendrickson, senior and one of the captains of the team. “To lead on and off the court is really essential to a good team.”
Chalmers enjoys coaching because he knows how important activities outside of school are.
“I just think that kids need opportunities to do stuff outside of school; I know it made a huge difference for me to be able to play basketball,” said Chalmers. “It got me to college, through college and helped me belong to a college.”
A lot of people think school is just about academics but Chalmers wants people to know that there is so much more in life.
“It’s about how you treat people and how you work with others,” said Chalmers. “And I think sports and academic competition do a great way of teaching that.”