Posts Tagged ‘Coaching Stories’

At least for one day in 1992.

Back in the early 90’s I was coaching at Paint Valley and we had a really good team, four starters standing 6′-5″ who could all shoot from anywhere on the floor. I had seven guys who could dunk, which would be impressive for a high school team even today.

Anyway, I used to take my teams out to the University of Maryland for Gary Willliam’s Basketball Camp. It’s a long story but I used to be the Commissioner of the camps out there for Gary from 1989 to 2002.

The kids who attended Maryland Camp came from the Washington DC area, as well as Baltimore, Philly, New York City and schools all along the east coast. To say my Southern Ohio boys were out of their element was a bit of an understatement. Still, my guys hung out with the city boys, stayed in the dorms with them, and more than held their own on the basketball court. To me it was a win-win all-around. You know, expanding cultural horizons and all that. Not to mention it made my guys better playing against such good competition.

Which brings me to a story that Gary Williams, legendary former coach at Maryland, still tells to this day. Remember that it was 1992, and “trash talking” was in its early stages. Understand that trash talking hardly ever led to violence on the court, it was just a part of the game for players from the playgrounds of the inner-cities. My team, however, was not used to it. It hadn’t made its way to our neck of the woods yet.

With this in mind, my Ohio boys had been in a particularly intense contest with a team from DC, which we happened to have won. Afterwards, in a corridor outside the Cole Field House floor, words were exchanged between an opposing player and one of my guys. After the other player challenged my player with some unkind words, a punch was thrown.

Somebody got throttled, and he wasn’t from Ross County.

Gary Williams, the aforementioned Maryland coach, happened to be in the corridor and jumped between my player and the other guy who was, well, on the hallway floor. At that point, as Gary will tell you, the following conversation took place:

Coach Williams: “What are you doing, man? Why did you punch him?”

My guy: “Coach, where I come from we only talk like that for a minute. Then we start to hit.”

Gary thought that was the greatest thing he’d ever heard, and he could hardly wait to tell me about it.

And believe me, at the time no truer words had ever been spoken.

Trash talking has since become commonplace, but back in ’92? Not so much.

I sort of miss those days.

Originally published on October 24th, 2012.

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When you’ve coached as long as me you have stories. Here are a few that have huh_450come to mind recently . . .

It was back in my early years of coaching, back when I was way tougher on kids than I am now. Yes, believe it or not that guy you see on the sidelines is a much mellower version of his former self.

That said, in the early days when somebody showed up late there was hell to pay, no questions asked. There was virtually no acceptable excuse for tardiness barring a death in the family or the loss of a limb.

Until one day something happened that caused me, from that point on, to always ask before lighting into somebody.

It was at an evening practice when one of my players (let’s call him Mark) showed up for a 7:00 pm practice at 7:12 pm. As he walked into the gym, the rest of the team grew quiet, knowing what was coming. I met him at the door, ripping into him about dedication, discipline, sacrifice, respect for your coach and teammates, and the oncoming global economic collapse.  OK, maybe not that last part, but you get the point. Trust me when I say I was spitting and yelling and generally becoming unglued. It was the night before a game for God’s sake! Had he no soul?

All the while, Mark just stood there looking me in the eye, patiently waiting for his crazy-ass coach to finish, which I finally did. I then told him he had 30-seconds to explain himself, and damn it, it had better be good.

His reply is burned into my memory:

“My house burned down.”

Wow. Not only had he explained himself in 27-seconds less than the 30 I’d given him, he’d made it to practice only 12-minutes late after his house had burned down.

And yes, I felt like the biggest jackass on the planet, which incidentally may have been 100% accurate at the time.

After regrouping and asking if his family was OK, I apologized and gave him a hug, which he reciprocated even though I’m 99% sure he’d have rather punched me in the pie-hole and walked out.

Oh, and I insisted that he go home and be with his family. Good for me? Maybe a little? No?

Years ago I had a player on one of my basketball teams who wasn’t what you would call a Rhodes Scholar. Let’s call him Bryan. On our fast break he was supposed to go to a certain spot of the floor. In the PV gym that spot was where the Bearcat Paw was painted near mid-court. When we got the rebound Bryan was supposed to go to the Bearcat Paw and wait for the outlet pass. As a result I’d drilled that into his head in the pre-season:

“Bryan! Go to the Bearcat Paw!”

You get the idea. Anyway, we had our first scrimmage that year at Alexander HS. A couple minutes into warm-ups Bryan came running over to me, wild-eyed, and yelled this:

“Coach! Where do I go on our break? There’s no Bearcat Paw!”

Guess the Spartan head wasn’t enough for Bryan. Sigh.

Once I had a kid who’d just received three Fs and a D- on his interim report. Clearly I was not amused, so I asked him what the hell he’d been doing in class. His response?

“That’s what I get for focusing too much on one subject, coach.”

Think about what he meant for a second. See, he was talking about the D- there. Get it? Never mind.

Finally, I once had a player who didn’t own a tie. This was a problem because I often require my players to wear ties on game day. I’d been given a really expensive silk tie by a friend a few years prior, so I decided to give him that one. As I handed it to him the following conversation transpired:

Me: “Larry, I’m giving you a tie that was given to me as a gift. It’s a nice one. This baby probably cost over $100.”

Larry, looking at the tie quizzically: “What does it do?”

See, Larry figured that if a tie cost that much money it must light up or play music or something. I mean, it had to cost that much money for a reason, right?

Yeah, in over 30-years you gather a lot of teaching and coaching stories. Here’s hoping for a lot more.

Not My Finest Moment

Posted: July 25, 2015 in Coaching, Kids, Sports
Tags:

Nope, not at all. 1

I could have written this story a long time ago, but perhaps I blocked it from my memory. Maybe I didn’t want to admit to it. Maybe I just wanted it to go away. For whatever reason, I kept it to myself.

Who am I kidding? I felt so bad about it I didn’t want to bring it up. As you’ll soon see, it doesn’t exactly paint me in a positive light.

Still, in the spirit of cleansing my soul, I shall tell it.

It was back in my early years of coaching, back when I was way tougher on kids than I am now. Yes, believe it or not that guy you see on the sidelines is a much mellower version of his former self.

That said, in the early days when somebody showed up late there was hell to pay, no questions asked. There was virtually no acceptable excuse for tardiness barring a death in the family.

Until one day something happened that caused me, from that point on, to always ask before lighting into somebody.

It was at an evening practice when one of my players (let’s call him Mark) showed up for a 7:00 pm practice at 7:12 pm. As he walked into the gym, the rest of the team grew quiet, knowing what was coming. I met him at the door, ripping into him about dedication, discipline, sacrifice, respect for your coach and teammates, and the oncoming global economic collapse.  OK, maybe not that last part, but you get the point. Trust me when I say I was spitting and yelling and generally becoming unglued. It was the night before a game for God’s sake! Had he no soul?

All the while, Mark just stood there looking me in the eye, patiently waiting for his crazy-ass coach to finish, which I finally did. I then told him he had 30-seconds to explain himself, and damn it, it had better be good.

His reply is burned into my memory:

“My house burned down.”

Wow. Not only had he explained himself in 27-seconds less than the 30 I’d given him, he’d made it to practice only 12-minutes late after his house had burned down.

And yes, I felt like the biggest jackass on the planet, which incidentally may have been 100% accurate at the time.

After regrouping and asking if his family was OK, I apologized and gave him a hug, which he reciprocated even though I’m 99% sure he’d have rather punched me in the pie-hole and walked out.

Oh, and I insisted that he go home and be with his family. Good for me? Maybe a little? No?

So, lesson learned? Always give the accused a chance to explain themselves before assuming guilt.

Always.

Good answer! Good answer!

Posted: January 14, 2014 in Coaching, Humor, Kids, Sports
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My players have learned that it’s easier to simply agree with me rather than question what I’m doing. They take the path of least resistance, if you will. Every once in awhile one of the younger kids will start to ask a dumb question, and I can see one of our older guys behind me, shaking his head at the kid like, “Stop it. Shut it now.”

That’s leadership, kids.

Take today for example. Right after school I was walking over from the middle school (where I’d been subbing) to our team room for practice when I got a text from one of my players. He was outside the team room and wanted to get in, but he thought I was still teaching. What he didn’t know was that I was about 30-seconds away, so I thought I’d mess with him a little. Here’s the text conversation:

Mike: “Hey coach, can I come get your keys so we can get in the locker room?”

Me: “No.”

Mike: “OK. See ya later.”

For some reason that cracked me up. Anyway, good answer son. Good answer.