By Laura Ryle | Reporter
What made you become a basketball coach?
I played basketball. I went to Muncie Central, and at the time it was something everybody was doing. They loved their basketball, so I got into it and started playing. I wasn’t very good at first. There were some really good players on the team, so it motivated me to want to play better. So after high school, I got an opportunity to play in college, so I played at a junior college first. I got even better. The coach pushed me a little bit. I was lucky enough to get a division one scholarship and went to Arkansas State to play basketball. The coaches there saw something in me and they said, “Hey, there’s more basketball to be played here.” After college, I got the opportunity to play overseas in different countries. The first place I went to was Lithuania. It’s in Eastern Europe, about three million people, and they love their basketball. Then I went to Portugal next. Then Denmark, Sweden, and then I went down to South America next. In Sweden, [however], the coaches asked me to help out with their youth program. At first, I’m thinking, “I don’t want to do this, I’m just a basketball player.” So I helped out with their youth program every Sunday and kind of loved it. I played a few more years, I came back home and then I was like, “Well, what’s next?” So I decided to coach eighth grade girls’ basketball. I didn’t think I would like it because it was girls’ basketball, but I ended up loving it. It is now my tenth year coaching and my first year here at Avon.
Why did you choose to come to Avon?
I had never been to Avon, but I coached at Muncie Central for the last three years. We played Noblesville, Hamilton South Eastern, and Fishers every single year. They [Avon and Noblesville] were both similar schools in the same conference. Then I asked them, “Hey, tell me a little bit about Avon.” They said it was a similar community to Noblesville and they said, “Hey, we think that you’d be great there.” So I gave it a try and made some contacts, had the interview, and I’ve never looked back. I’m glad I’m here. I’m not used to change, I’m used to routine. If something does change, I get angry with that. It took a little while since it was a different routine to me, but I don’t question the decision. I love it here: I love the people, the facility, it’s an amazing school.
How do you incorporate you past history of basketball playing with coaching?
I know a lot of really good players who can’t teach the game. That’s what I made sure I worked really hard at. I know how to do this. I was a decent player but how do I get somebody who doesn’t know how to do this to teach them how to do it? I worked really hard at talking to older coaches- coaches who had done this for a really long time- I just learned how to teach. I continued to learn and go to clinics to work on teaching because I understand what I want. I worked really hard at teaching it. At first, it didn’t go so well because I can do a left-hand layup and I want you to do it and you don’t do it so I’m getting frustrated. It’s easy for me. So as long as I’m teaching the game and getting guys to understand, and everybody learns differently, so you have to take each situation differently. It’s like a classroom, where you go “How does this student learn and this student learn?” Even on the basketball court, you’re still teaching. Some people think it’s just a sport, but it’s also a lesson. So I look at myself as not just a coach, but also a teacher.
Have you learned any coaching techniques from Coach Young?
Not really techniques, but I’ve asked him about the kids returning, individual tendencies. I asked him, “What’s this person’s strength? What’s this guy good at? What does he need to work on?’”He has helped me in that sense because he knows the kids a lot better than I do since just getting here, so he was helpful with that. I mean, I would go to him right now and say, “Hey, what does he do well? How well can I push his buttons and motivate him well?” So he’s been very helpful.
Do you try to establish a relationship with the players?
Yes, I think that’s very important because basketball is hard. You have to at least like it and practice it, and I like to try to challenge them. Sometimes I’m not the nicest person or the easiest person to get along with, but I think it’s important to build a relationship with the team. You have to try to get them to do what they need to do. I think early on, that’s what I tried to do in the summer when I first got here. Now it gets tough. I’m going to push you a little bit. So building those relationships, you understand I’m doing it to help you, not just to be mean to you. I’m not trying to lash out and be a jerk. So I think that’s the first thing people should do: to learn your players. See what they can do, what they like and dislike, and go from there.
How many players are in this year’s roster?
There are nineteen players in junior varsity, sixteen freshman players. We kept as many freshman players as we could, again sixteen, but it was hard to place sixteen players. With young kids, we want to keep as many as we can because we want to see who’s going to develop and who’s not. In junior varsity, we kept about 24 players. We had a lot of juniors and a lot of sophomores. A couple of freshman had the opportunity to move up. I want to give them all a fair look and see where they are and go from there.
How do you think the season will turn out this year?
Tough to say, I think we will be competitive, but it’s tough to say. Especially in varsity, because we had players come in from junior varsity and the speed is different from junior varsity. So until we actually play and get to experience it and see how tough it is, it will be a learning curve for them. I think we will work hard and be competitive. I’m looking forward to it and see what happens.