Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003.

When asked the question “what makes a great coach?” or “what does a great coach look like?” you’ll get various responses depending on who you ask, be it players, fans, school staff or fellow coaches and how deep they want to subjectively respond.

As I continue to attend practices and games around northeast Indiana, I’ve seen some outstanding coaches that are working intensely, guiding their teams and trying to give them the best opportunity to compete to win, but the question is, soes winning make a coach great?

Is that how great is measured? By the successes or failures of the team on the scoreboard on any given night? Let’s take a closer look.

It is the opinion of many that I’ve spoken to that there should be other intangibles in which a coach should be measured when we attempt to determine whether he/she should be considered great. We are certainly blessed to have coaches working with our young people here in northeast Indiana that have clearly established a culture that exudes winning. That mentality has been engrained in players that though they may not be the most talented, tallest, quickest or even most experienced, they should approach each season and daily preparation as though they are the team to beat. Also that they have their minds focused on the adage “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Coaching and the philosophy behind it can best be described as fluid, meaning that the truly ‘great’ ones have to approach each season with the understanding they must be that able to adjust to the needs of their players and understand that each player, team – and season for that matter – must be approached and motivated differently if that team is to be successful.

The demands of coaching are tough and few understand what really goes into coaching young people. But, the rewards are more than fulfilling as you see a team compete and give themselves every opportunity to win simply because they have bought in to what the expectations are from their coach, and accepted that anything less than their best is not acceptable.

There are so many distractions that can occur during the course of a season, so to truly be great, a coach has to navigate their teams through those distractions and stay focused on their goals. So again, to answer my initial question “what makes a coach great?,” I would have to say, it’s the coaches that are able to instill a quality work ethic into their players and get the most out of their God-given talents each day and throughout each season.

They must be shrewd in how hard to push their team and when to ease off the gas. They must understand that in the precarious court of public opinion, players win games and coaches lose games and be able to block that out, knowing that they’ve prepared their young people in every possible way to compete each night at the highest level. If they can live with those results then therein lies a great coach!

Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday during the prep basketball season at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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