It’s one thing for a father to have a close-knit bond with his son. It’s another to be able to coach your son since he could walk.
That’s the opportunity Panhandle head football coach Dane Ashley and senior quarterback Landyn Hack have had for well over a decade. Though Ashley isn’t the biological father of Hack he doesn’t hesitate to claim him as his own. Ashley came into Hack’s life when Hack was only 2-years old when he started dating Hack’s mother, and now wife, Amy, of 13 years.
“Landyn and I were best friends ever since he was a little guy and we’ve been close ever since,” Ashley said. “He’s my son as far as I’m concerned, and it’s been that type of relationship. Now we just talk like friends. We share a lot between each other and laugh together. It’s been awesome.”
Amy says when Ashley entered into Landyn’s life 16 years ago, she never dreamed the two would form this type of bond.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Amy said. “Dane has raised him his entire life and they’ve always been so close. We’ve been very fortunate especially because Dane never dealt with a toddler when we first started dating. There was a lot for him to learn, but he did a great job adjusting.”
For Hack, having Ashley as a father was an immediate adjustment as well. Hack was 5-years old when Ashley and Amy had their first of two daughters, Allie, that prompted Hack to start calling Ashley “dad”.
“Dane has always been there for me,” Hack said. “I love him like a father, and he is my father. I’ve always trusted him, and he’s always trusted me. We always have each other’s backs, and he means everything to me.”
Ashley and Hack’s passion for sports has only made the bond stronger over the years. Ashley grew up in a coaching family playing his high school football at Stratford before going on to play college football at Angelo State. Since his time in coaching, Ashley could tell right off the bat that Hack was going to be a superior athlete at a very young age, and it was going to be his job to help mold him into a top-tier athlete.
“I always knew Landyn was going to be good from when he was playing in youth leagues,” Ashley said. “He’s always been one of the best players no matter what team he’s on. He’s always been a big kid, and fast and just knows how to play the game. He just had a special passion for sports like I did.”
The duo will now get one last run together this fall as Hack enters his senior season as one of the most premiere football players in the Texas Panhandle. The dual-threat quarterback/ linebacker has been the team leader for Ashley’s Panthers the past two seasons. Hack has put up massive stats over his illustrious career as the reigning District 1-2A Division I MVP has rushed for 4,063 career yards, thrown for 2,384 career yards and has 98 career touchdowns.
There’s no secret Ashley is an intense human being whether it’s on the field or off it. He admits he was probably too rough on Hack his freshman year on varsity, and Hack gets coached harder than anyone in Panhandle because of Ashley’s expectation. Hack says Ashley can be a lot to deal with, but after all the years, he’s learned how to handle the old man.
“We butt heads a lot,” Hack said. “He gets in my face a lot but then I’ll just tell him to calm down. He’s learned to listen more these days, and I think that’s cause of the trust he has in me. But I love his style of coaching and wouldn’t want anyone else coaching me.”
Ashley does put trust in Hack. So much so that Hack sits in the coach’s office to help break down film. Ashley says even though he doesn’t express his sentiment enough, he’s never thought more of his son than he does heading into this last ride.
“I have an extreme sense of pride everyday watching Landyn,” Ashley said. “I’m always proud of him. I’ve been way too hard on him in the past, and at home, but I’ve been better. I just have to realize he does so much for the program and leaves it all on the field. I couldn’t have raised a better young man.”
“We had a sentimental moment the other day. Landyn and I have been doing strength and conditioning every summer together since the second grade. We were maxing out recently and we just noticed it been almost 10 years straight since we started. This is now the last run together before he leaves for college next summer. That really hit me.”
Panhandle opens the 2022 regular season hosting Clarendon on Friday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m.