Trey Hladky already knew he wasn’t going to play basketball at Gillette College this year. Hladky, who was a redshirt freshman on the Pronghorns this past season, signed with Dickinson State University back in April.
Still, Thursday’s decision by the Northern Wyoming Community College District to cut the athletic programs at both Gillette College and Sheridan College weighed heavily on Hladky, who graduated from Campbell County High School in Gillette in 2018.
“Thursday was pretty tough,” Hladky said, “because not only are we close with the Neary family, but I know a lot of the boosters and I still have a lot of friends who were going to play there this year.”
Shawn Neary, the Gillette College men’s head basketball coach since the program’s inception 11 years ago, was one of four head coaches left without a job at the school following Thursday’s decision.
Hladky’s relationship with Neary went beyond that of a family friend, however.
“Going to those home games was my favorite thing to do,” Hladky recalled. “And I hardly missed a home game in all the years they had a team. When you’re a little kid, getting to watch these guys who were at that next level was so exciting.
“And it helped me a lot because I was able to work out and train with a lot of those players throughout the years. I know I wouldn’t be the player I am today without the Gillette College program.”
The 5-foot-9 Hladky was a two-time Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year (2017-18) and led the Camels to the 2018 Class 4A state championship, scoring a record 43 points in the title game. He signed with Chadron State College out of high school before returning to Gillette. He will have three years of eligibility remaining at Dickinson State.
But Gillette College, and Neary, will always hold a place in Hladky’s heart. And the fact that the decision came so quickly caught everyone by surprise.
“There was no warning,” Hladky said. “Shawn got a call Thursday morning out of the blue telling him he was done. He was the first coach they had at Gillette College. He started the program … they built it from the ground up. They used to play in the auxiliary gym at South campus, which is now Thunder Basin.
“He built the program, finally got his own gym – we got a lot of boosters that donated a lot of money to help build it – and now that’s going to sit there empty.
“It’s still not registering to me that it’s done.”
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!