One of the 65 teams filling the 2009 NCAA Men?s Basketball Tournament bracket announced Sunday has a Hillsboro connection.
Lawrence Brenneman, a 1981 graduate of Hillsboro High School, is in his first year as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky.
Brenneman has helped lead the Hilltoppers to a 24-8 record and is excited to be playing in the tournament.
?I think anybody that?s in the coaching profession always has aspirations of playing in the NCAA tournament,? he said.
Brenneman played basketball in high school and college, being named an All-American at both levels. After high school, Brenne?man attended Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., graduating in 1985 with a mathematics degree.
He then attended one year of graduate school at Oklahoma State University before coming to Tabor College to get his teaching certificate. He received his education degree from Tabor in 1987.
Brenneman also attended Wichita State University, where he acquired his master?s degree in secondary mathematics in 1992.
Brenneman said he did not always have the goal of coaching basketball.
?When I played basketball in college, I didn?t really know if I wanted to coach or not,? he said.
While working on his teaching certificate at Tabor, Brenne?man assisted Don Brubacher in coaching the men?s basketball team. This experience sparked Brenneman?s desire to coach.
His new passion led him to a position as assistant basketball coach at Wichita West High School for two years, where he later became head coach.
From there he coached at Andover High School for seven years. In 1992, Brenneman led his team to the Class 5A state tournament in Topeka.
?That was a real exciting time for me,? he said.
Brenneman then coached at Seward County Community College in Liberal for four years. His team went 35-3 in 1998 and finished third in the nation.
In 2000, Brenneman accepted an assistant coaching job at Binghamton University in New York, where he coached for eight years before taking the position at Western Kentucky.
Brenneman said his responsibilities at Western Kentucky include scouting, coaching, recruiting and helping students academically.
Ultimately, Brenneman hopes to be head coach of a Division I school.
?In our profession, what you want to do is be somewhere where you know you have a chance to make the NCAA tournament and you have a chance to win the national title,? he said.
This will be Western Kentucky?s 22nd trip to the NCAA tournament. The Hilltoppers have made it to the Sweet 16 seven times and the Final Four once.
Western Kentucky will begin tournament play Thursday, March 19, against Illinois.
Brenneman and wife Lisa reside in Bowling Green, Ky., with their children, James, 13, and Jenna, 9.
His parents, Frank and Anne Brenneman, continue to live in Hillsboro.