1. Why did you go into Coaching?
My coaches in junior high and high school had an immense impact on my life, both negatively and positively. In high school, I had many great coaches but two of those were not only great coaches, they were excellent mentors and positive influences in my life. It has been over 20 years and both of them are still coaching, still influencing, and still making a difference in schools and communities.
Coach Phelps was my high school football coach. His passion for the game and for competing was contagious. He was, and still is, intense. I will never forget my first interaction with him. I was a freshman and it was my first day of summer pride. I was at the bench press and my workout partner had terrible form that Coach observed and needed to correct. Coach Phelps walked up to us, grabbed some plates and loaded up 315 lbs on the bar, got on the bench, and calmly discussed proper hand placement, breathing, and range of motion while easily completing 10 reps. Then he got up, slapped us on the shoulders and walked off. That was Coach Phelps. Always intense, always going hard, and always expected the most from his players. As I played for Coach Phelps through the years I learned how much he not only cared for football but also for his players. He was an intense competitor on the field and an intense coach that expected his players to perform and act at their highest level.
Coach Terral was my basketball coach in high school and he had the complete opposite demeanor of Coach Phelps. Quiet, calm, and chose his words carefully. He rarely raised his voice and was always teaching the game and teaching life. Coach Terral was old school with his players: no facial hair, no visible tattoos, no long hair, shirts tucked in, no show off passes, no celebrating, no dunking in a game, and heavily focused on basketball fundamentals. During football season I grew my beard out but on the first week of basketball practice, I happily shaved my face and got cleaned up for Coach. On a side note, I haven’t had a clean shave since my last week of basketball practice my senior year. That may sound terrible to some, but I would have shaved my eyebrows if he required it. My respect for him was and still is, extremely high. Coach Terral motivated in a different way: a side conversation, a moment to work on a shot, and many discussions about life off the court. He was great about painting the bigger picture and connecting hard work, integrity, discipline, and passion to basketball and the rest of life.
So the short answer to that question? I want to influence athletes like Coach Phelps and Coach Terral influenced me. If I do that half as good as they did, it will be a huge win.
2. What is the most memorable coaching moment you have ever had?
I was an assistant basketball coach for the Shawnee Girls 7th grade team. My wife was the head coach and it was our first time to coach. My wife had just graduated college and I was still in college. We had tryouts and over 100 seventh grade girls showed up to the gym. It was chaos. One girl, who was 6 foot tall with soft hands and a great shot, came up to me and asked: “I’m really nervous about making the team. Do you think I have a chance?” While she is saying this, I am watching the majority of the other girls dribble off of their feet, airballing shots, and missing easy passes. I replied: “I think you are going to be fine. Just play hard.”
That moment has always been funny to my wife and I but also insightful. Here was a talented basketball player that had no idea that she was a talented basketball player. We had the opportunity to bring that out and develop that. We got to watch her learn the game and become a better player. I often think about that moment when a new season or sport starts: what can I see in an athlete that maybe they don’t see and how can I develop that?
3. What is your favorite moment from when you were an athlete either in high school or college?
My senior year of basketball was a fun season for a lot of reasons. One personal reason for me is that we played a smaller school twice that year, once at home and once there. My cousin played on that team in which he played the same position as me and we always had a battle against each other in the paint. We were close in size and both played aggressively and physically. Being in small schools, everyone knew this and the trash talking started early. My cousin and I were not close but we respected each other. Both games were intense and on multiple occasions, the refs took us aside and warned us to settle down, which always results in us both laughing about it and proclaiming: “No big deal, we are related.”
The second time we met up was the most memorable. The game was away and the gym was a tiny metal building that was packed at every spot. The game was close and we battled hard. By the end of the game we were ahead by a few points. My cousin and I were both in foul trouble, mainly fouling each other. Our last time to play on the court against each other. As the game neared the end, my cousin fouled me when I shot, the shot went in, and I got to shoot a free throw. That fouled him out and when he walked off the court, both sides of gym clapped and cheered. I did as well.
4. What was the most embarrassing moment you had as an athlete or coach?
I was coaching 8-man football. It was the week before school started and we had 2-a-day practices. One lineman, 6’5” and 320 lbs was half way going through the motions and slacking off in drills. I was on his case. It was hot, well over 100 degrees. After a drill, this player limped over to me and told me that his ankle was hurting. I didn’t buy it. I yelled: “Are you bleeding? Are there any bones sticking out?” He declined and I told him to quit coming up with excuses and to quit being lazy. He finished practice limping. The next day he came to practice about 15 minutes late - on crutches with a cast on his ankle and foot. Apparently, he broke his ankle. I felt horrible and embarrassed. I apologized to him in front of the team and declared to the team that from that moment on I was no longer qualified to assess injuries. Everyone laughed about it but I felt like an idiot and laugh about it now.
5. What's the funniest thing you have ever experienced as a coach, something that makes you laugh to this day?
I was an assistant football coach for my father in law for a year. He is intense, old school, and no nonsense. We coached junior high and high school football and had one other assistant coach. It was a junior high game and it was close in the 4th quarter. I was standing next to the other assistant coach on our sideline discussing something pertaining to the game when all of the sudden we noticed a lady standing behind us. We turned and asked her if something was wrong. Being that a parent was on the sideline with the team, we assumed an emergency had come up. She immediately started questioning why her son had not been put in the game. As all good assistants would do, we pointed her over to the head coach. As she moved over to where he was standing, the other assistant and I looked at each other and said, “This is going to be entertaining!” Of course, it didn’t go well for the mom on the sideline and the other assistant coach and I had to work incredibly hard to conceal our laughter and shock. Everytime I run across that assistant coach we get a great laugh out of that!
6. What is the best excuse you have ever received from a player for not being at practice?
“I went fishing.”
7. What is your Favorite sports movie and why?
Friday Night Lights. Everything about this movie encompasses the highs and lows of playing and coaching sports.
8. What is your favorite sports quote?
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” -Michael Jordan