COURTSIDE WITH COACH EDMONDS: How do you sustain excellence in your program?

Do you ever wonder how the same high school programs in our area find a way to duplicate their success year in and year out? Is it their school, community, talent or is it something else?

When each season starts how do we just KNOW that certain programs are going to be at or near the top of their conference, just as sure, as we know Rain comes after Thunder? Being a head basketball coach requires you to pay close attention to not only your players’ grades, school behaviors, team morale, practices and game planning but also many other things during the course of a season. Something that often is overlooked is what attracts those younger players that you want in your program from the communities of your particular school?

Paying close attention to detail is what makes coaching such a demanding position simply because it’s the “little things” that make or break a program’s successes or failures during the tenure of a coach’s season and eventually career. One of the most important factors to the overall development of a program are the relationships that the high school coaches develop with the elementary and middle schools. Those schools. send students into the neighboring high school; those schools are what we call the “feeder schools”. 

These schools that surround the high school are schools that coaches must visit, be seen at not just athletic contests but also academic and school recognition events and be a presence for those younger students to see as an important part of their growth as young student/athletes. These students are aspiring to be a part of the high school program in their future. Coaches have to generate interest from those students by sharing their passion and excitement for their particular program. Make those feeder school students want to become a future Knight, Bruin, Spartan, Charger, etc.

So how does this happen that the perennial powers or successful programs in our area sustain their successes for year after year? Sure, we have some very good coaching going on in northeast Indiana, but there has to be more so let’s take a look.

What I have found is that the coaches and programs that have experienced prolonged success have a clear understanding that they must be visible and known by their community and younger students and SEE them on a regular basis. Coaches must have a rapport with the middle and elementary school teachers, staff and administration and that takes time. It is a necessary entity if they want sustained success at the high school level. The more that the high school coaches show that they care about those young prospective students/athletes, in being a part of their school and programs, the more apt they will be gracing their hallways in years to come. If you get nothing else from this story, this has been proven profoundly true!

Now mind you, winning does play an important part in this process as most kids want to be a part of a winning high school program. But think for a moment how exciting is it for students in grades 2-8 to be invited to a game or to see the members of the high school basketball team speak to their class or attend one of their games? That is the something that they go home a share with their parents and it generates interest in them attending that particular high school.

Summer camps or inviting the feeder school coaches to clinics also play a huge part in developing interest in the high school and creating a culture of winning needed to sustain excellence at the high school for years to come.  In my mind, that’s how you get things done coaches. BE VISIBLE at your feeder community; your program’s future is at stake!

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. Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday 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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