Watertown native leads Alabama men's basketball team to 1st Final Four

NOW: Watertown native leads Alabama men’s basketball team to 1st Final Four

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- When the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four gets underway this weekend in Arizona, a Wisconsin town less than an hour's drive from Madison will be cheering on Alabama.

"Never thought I'd be saying roll tide!" said Larry Oats, dad.

Larry Oats and his wife Colleen have lived in Watertown over 55 years, supporting athletics in this gym.

"And I can remember sitting in the stands when he was a baby, and a toddler, and crawling in the bleachers and whatever," said Colleen Oats, mom.

More than 40 years later, that baby's got a March Madness starring role.

"I just screamed, and I said thank you Lord, roll tide!" said Colleen Oats.

The couple's son, Nate Oats, is head coach of men's basketball at the University of Alabama. He's led his team to their very first Final Four.

"Somehow I caught enough breaks, I'm coaching in one, which is unreal. I mean, give hope to a lot of high school coaches tonight, that's for sure," Nate Oats said, following his team's Elite Eight win.

Before Alabama, Oats was a high school math teacher and boys basketball coach near Detroit.

"I think you actually see that in the way he coaches his teams. A lot of x's and o's, a lot of specific strategies that he has seen in the mathematically algorithms, percentages," said Matt Davis, CEO, Maranatha Baptist Academy.

Back home in Watertown, former classmates at Maranatha Baptist Academy, where he attended both high school and college, are thrilled.

"Nate grew up here in Watertown and we're really proud to have one of our own succeed at such a high level. One of my prized possessions in my office is my signed Alabama basketball from Coach Oats, but he didn't give it to me. He actually donated that to our golf outing. I had to buy it myself from the auction, but I was glad to do it, glad I won it, it was a competitive bid, I can tell you that," said Davis.

Nate Oats spent eight years playing basketball in this gymnasium - four for Maranatha High School and four for Maranatha Baptist University.

"In high school, they had a winning team like senior year. They went, and oh, we always knew he had the capability," said Colleen Oats.

"He was a captain on the basketball team and the type of guy that was kind of an assistant coach before he had the title officially," said Davis.

Serving his fellow players by helping to coach.

"Oh, he loves coaching. He's a teacher at heart. That's what a coach is, just teaching something different, not teaching. You're teaching guys how to move, how to pass, shoot, how to work with one another," said Larry Oats.

Family plan to be at the game in Arizona on Saturday. Alabama takes on the University of Connecticut at 7:49 p.m.

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