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.
During the course of any basketball season as a coach, I would try and breakdown the season into thirds. There was the regular season, the holiday season and then the state tournament season.
I would preach and preach that we needed to continually get better as we approached each third and be playing the best ball that we could possibly be playing to give ourselves the best chance for success. That’s how we went about our business and my teams (the most successful ones) bought into that philosophy season after season after season.
After watching one of our area boys teams practice and then having the opportunity to speak to the team afterwards, something occurred to me that I shared with them during my talk. The basketball season can essentially be broken into 6 championships. What I meant by this is that during the course of a season you have 6 opportunities to win what I would consider championships, in this order. 1) Regular season. 2) Holiday Tournament. 3) Sectionals. 4) Regionals. 5) Semi-State. 6) State.
When coaches begin to look at their seasons this way, then they’ll see that there are numerous opportunities for them to be successful during any given season and share these thoughts with their teams. Coaching and playing this game at its highest level can be a mentally and emotionally draining experience and you need refreshers during the season to regroup. As a coach, you have to find periods during the season to celebrate successes for your team and let them know that they are on a journey. And though the big goal is to win a state championship, if you can’t appreciate the successes you experience along the way, then you’ve missed the big picture.
Teams that are looking for success can use these checkpoints as a way of keeping their team focused and alert during the season with clear attainable team goals that give them something to shoot for during the very long grinding season.
Goals, dreams, passion; 6 championships are a great way to judge how well your team is playing and can be used as a barometer moving forward. Part of being a coach or player is pushing yourself to be playing the best you can be during each checkpoint.
Remember, the season is a journey and you must stop and ‘smell the leather’ of the basketball during the journey to really appreciate your accomplishments as you move into state tournament play. This is yet another way to keep team goals first during the varsity season. 6 championships: remember where you heard this phrase first, from the coach sitting Courtside.
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.