Hartman remembered as passionate coach, mentor

MOUNT UNION – Mount Union Area High School lost a man on Tuesday described by many who knew him as a passionate coach and mentor.

The winningest coach in Trojan football history died after losing his battle with brain cancer.

Alan Hartman had been coach of the team from 1986-98 before agreeing in 2011 to return to leading the program. He had planned to do so this past football season before his health finally forced him to resign after the first day of August practice.

“I think he really thought in his mind, he could do it,” Mount Union athletic director Bill Shives said. “But once he got out on the field with the heat and the sun and the wear and tear, he realized he couldn’t go on.”

Willing to take on the job last minute was Corey Wertz, the school’s wrestling coach and a football player under Hartman in the 1990s.

He said he did it out of the respect he had for his former coach and out of a desire to uphold Hartman’s no-nonsense way of doing things.

“He pushed us as players and as people,” Wertz said. “It wasn’t just that he tried to make you the best football player you could be, it was also to make you the best person you could be. He has his values and his beliefs that were rock solid and he never wavered from those. He made you believe in what he was selling.

And what Wertz said he was selling was the desire to always strive to get better.

“I can remember a game at Curwensville,” he said. “We were ahead at halftime by like 20 or 30 to nothing or something like that and Curwensville had one first down. I remember he chewed us out for letting them get that one first down because he was always preaching to never be satisified, never be settled.”

Hartman was more than just a football coach. He also spent many years as an assistant junior high boys basketball coach and played a major role in beginning the track and field program at the school.

“He was dynamic and really hellbent on fundamentals,” Shives said. “He would always preach the importance of fundamentals and if you get enough good kids to buy into it, you can have some success.”

That attitude wasn’t limited to the football field. Hartman spent many years as a health and physical education teacher at Mount Union and brought his style to the classroom.

“He had a passion and totally immersed himself into football and/or teaching or whatever it was,” Wertz said. “There was no halfway with him. … He’s going to be missed by a lot of people. It’s not even just the athletes. It’s the students who he had a profound effect on. … He taught not only football, but life lessons.”

But when asked what he’ll miss most about his former coach, Wertz didn’t focus on coaching, teaching or anything athletically related.

“Coach always had that smile about him,” Wertz said. “That smile and if you could get him to laugh, it was always contagious. And his passion. You never second guessed whether he was all in or not.”