COURTSIDE WITH COACH EDMONDS: The transition of middle school to high school basketball

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.

Ahhhhh, middle school. In my day, it was called junior high; the years of 6th to 8th grade when it seemed like time stood still. As an eighth grader, there was no pressure to succeed. The younger kids looked up to you because you were older and more established and the world – at least the school you attended – was your ‘oyster.’

All of the teachers knew you; the coaches of the various athletic teams knew you and you had your pick of anything you wanted, for the most part. Ahhhhh, middle school. Everything seemed so simple then.

Fast forward one year later and you are in high school. Now you’re in the fast lane where things that used to be so easy have suddenly become frenetic. The school is larger and in some cases, the classes are tougher; ‘what the heck is Integrated Chem/Phys?’ You start to ask questions like “Why don’t the teachers and coaches know my name and why do practices now start IN THE SUMMER and what happened to my kingdom I had as an 8th grader?”

It’s enough to drive you crazy.

The transition from middle school to high school basketball basketball can, at the time, be overwhelming for young people. I’ve seen it many times this year. Trying to figure things out can be daunting and at times so demanding that if you’re not careful, confidence can be lost. So much so that the reputation of a young promising eighth grader that young people come in having is now a flower wilting in the hot sun.

As I attend games this season, I have seen some very talented young people who have found their way and made the transition from middle school to high school basketball successfully. They’ve gained acceptance from the older high school players who no longer see them as a threat and have shown that they can actually play this game at a high level if given time. Their talent supersedes their age and their contributions are needed if their teams are going to have successful seasons. I have enjoyed watching their growth, maturity and passion to succeed. Though some are still adjusting to the pace and skill levels of their older, more experienced counterparts, the old saying of “the cream always rises to the top” would be an appropriate phrase to use when I see them play.

Some of northeast Indiana’s top programs have freshman making major contributions to the successes of their team. Some are starters and some are coming off of the bench but all are contributing in a major way. When you attend games this season look at how many programs have freshmen playing and contributing to their teams. Keep it up ninth graders, you’re making the transition just fine. Your future kingdoms await you.

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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