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Sunday, November 12, 2017

First Season

 1977-8 the Streaks girls’ basketball team had a pretty good season. There was not a two class system, so the Streaks won their Regional with wins over Alexis, Yorkwood, and Southern. They went onto lose the first round of the Sectional to Moline 48-36. But it didn’t end well, the Streaks had been using an ineligible player the entire second semester so they had to forfeit all those games plus give up the Regional title. So what had been a pretty good season, became a 1-19 season.

In the middle of July, I got a call from George Lundeen (Athletic Director), asking me to come in and talk with him. When I arrived at the high school, I was met by Mr. Lundeen and David Bradley (GHS Principal). I was told that they had decided a change need to be made in the coaching position for the girls’ basketball team. They explained that they had offered to someone else but they had turned the job done but they had recommended me for the job. They explained why they thought it would be a good job for me. And pointed out there would be good players. I believed them but I had only seen one girls game the year before.

Vicki (Fields) Stewart- Athlete, Mom, Coach

Vicki #10.
Vicki Fields (now Vicki Stewart) graduated in 1989 from Galesburg High School. She started as a guard on the 1988 team which won Galesburg’s first Regional title. She was a very good player, and she was an even better teammate. When we took our first team to University of Michigan to for team camp in the summer of 1989, Vicki went as the coach for the team.

When I first started coaching girls basketball, very few of the moms had been athletes. It was the dads who had athletic experience and “expertise” to share with their daughters. I always wondered how the first generation of athletic moms would handle their athletic experience and parenting a female athlete.

Vicki Stewart certainly gives us some insight into the positive role an “athletic mom” can have on her daughter. Vicki has certainly been a great role model and leader, not only for her daughter but for many female athletes.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Isaiah Peachey- Teaching in the City

Steve & Isaiah Peachey riding to girls basketball game.
Isaiah Peachey was around the girl’s basketball program as he grew up with his dad as an assistant coach. The Peachey’s- Isaiah, Tai, and Seth were Allen’s playmates in the gym. They ran all over while we were practicing. They played made up games in the balconies. Often it took some time for them to remember where they took there shoes off in the school.

Isaiah went onto to play varsity basketball for the Streaks, then got his college degree from Olivet Nazarene. And he chose to go into the “family business”, teaching.

Recently the Register-Mail did a series on Galesburg grads moving away. We expect to hear about grads moving to the “suburbs” or huge businesses in the large cities. Usually we think the motivation is to chase big bucks.

Isaiah is one of “those kids moving to the city”, but then he isn’t “one of those kids moving to the city.” His teaching career has not taken him to New Trier or Barrington to make huge money, it has taken him to work in a city school on the south side of Chicago. Despite the challenges, Isaiah seems to be enjoying his experience. It is fascinating to hear about his experience as a teacher and as a coach in Chicago.

Friday, October 27, 2017

My Rules Changes

Every year they come up with new rules changes. Some are good, some are not. Usually coaches are initially not happy with change- it requires new strategy and adjustments.

I am not very good at figuring out how the new rules will impact the game. When they added the three point arc, I said in the newspaper that it would not effect the high school girls game- "the only time it will be used will be when a player throws up a prayer at the end of a quarter."

This year they have expanded the coaching box to go to the baseline. This is probably good but it won't really impact the game. This year they added a rule that refs can issue a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct to a coach. While I am not coming out in support of unsportsmanlike conduct, I don't like this rule. Anything that promotes refs and coaches communicating is good. I think this rule will reduce communication between refs and coaches. It will be too easy for a ref to just issue a warning, in effect "embarrass" the coach, and not ever stop to talk with the coach. If it makes us as coaches more civil and gets us to talk to refs differently- and refs differently, then that would be good. But I see it as a rule that will make coaches and refs even more adversaries.

If I were in charge, here are some rules changes I would make. Some would make a difference and some would not matter.

My Dad

This is written for me, not for you. Today is my dad's birthday. I have been looking at some pictures and thinking about my dad. Someone asked me how long does it take to get over your parents passing away. My answer is that- you don't ever get over it. I am not saying that I wake up sad everyday or that I even think about my dad everyday. 

There are times when Allen does something wonderful and as a parent you want to brag. I wish you could share it with your parents. Brother Mark and I talk about our childhood, and there seem to be 100 questions that we wish we could ask now. There are so many neat memories and happy memories. But there are times when I think about my dad that I can't help but get emotional and watering eyed. It still hurts.

Today my dad would be 118 years old. But to me, he is still 64 like he was when he died. He was 52 years old when I was born. He had not gotten married until he was 49 years old. My mother was younger and she claimed she didn't know how old my dad was until they went for the marriage license.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Good Chemistry

The greater the team chemistry- the greater the joy from victory!
Basketball practices start next week. At the start of the season, there seems to be so many things to try to “get in” before the first game. As a coach, I think there are three obvious area to focus on during the first two weeks:
1)    Reviewing basic fundaments and cleaning up some of the individual skills.
2)    Putting in team offense and defense. This can mean putting in plays on offense, and developing particular defenses.
3)    Working to try to get into playing shape without creating injuries in players who may not be in the best of shape.

But the most important area of focus in the first two weeks is establishing your team culture. It doesn’t matter if you return many of the players from the year before. It doesn’t matter if you have practiced and played games in the summer. It is always a NEW team and it is a fresh start. In the first two weeks as coaches and as players, you establish what your culture as a team.
·      How will you practice?
·      How do you compete?
·      How do you treat each other?
·      How do you respond to coaching?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Eric Smith- Coach's Kid

Eric Smith is presently the head boys coach at Alton High School. He grew up in Iowa as a coach’s son. He was a long-time assistant at Galesburg HS and also at Monmouth College. He was good at what he did, and he seemed to be comfortable as an assistant coach.

Years ago, when I was looking at a different job, my mother commented that every time she took a new job, it had been a good decision. I didn’t follow her advice, I guess I am not a risk taker.

After Eric had been in this area for fifteen years, I assumed he would retire here. I was surprised when I found out he was leaving to become the head coach at Alton. But while I was surprised, it made total sense. He was invested in coaching and he was good at what he did. And it would appear that again my mother was right about change- it has been a good decision for Eric.

The best coaches that I know, when you talk to them, you quickly realize there aren’t many things they haven’t thought about ahead of time. The really good coaches seem to be prepared for everything. Eric is one of those coaches. He always has a reason for what he has his team do. When you talk to him, it is obvious he grew up around basketball- he has seen a lot of basketball and talked a lot of basketball. He is prepared and his teams are prepared.

It is obvious as you read Eric’s answers, he is not in this alone. His wife is a big part of the team. The average person has no idea the energy and sacrifice needed to be a coach’s wife.  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Rob Huizenga- Career Promoting Athletes and Coaches

Rob Huizenga is a GHS grad, and Knox College grad. He served as a manager for the boys basketball program starting in 6th grade, and then did double duty as a senior for both the boys and girls basketball teams. At Knox, he was Student Assistant in Sports Information. While working on his Masters in Sports Management at Illinois State, he served as Grad Assistant in Athletic’s Media Relations.

Rob became the full-time SID at Saint Xavier University in Chicago in 2003. In 2011 he was promoted to Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Information. He was named the inaugural NAIA National SID of the Year in 2014. Just this year, Rob has become Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Information, Marketing, and Event Management at Purdue Northwest.

I first knew Rob when he was a manager for the GHS basketball teams. It takes someone with a good work ethic and a low ego to be able to succeed as a manager. It is unlikely you are going to get your name or picture in the newspaper. You are going to do a dozen things every practice that players either don’t even notice, or don’t express appreciation for. When Rob was managing, it was never about him. He was willing to do whatever job needed to be done. He was in it to serve others.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tanner Carlson- Young Coach & AD

I had the opportunity to supervise Tanner Carlson during his student teaching, while he was at Knox College. Through the years, I had many student teachers. Tanner was among the very best or was the best student teacher that I had. He had that rare ability to make the class informal but yet to remain respected and have discipline.

Every class, every day, he was totally engaged with the kids. Before class started, he was interacting with kids. He got to know them. During class, he worked to always come up with some special activity. It was not surprising that he used a “basketball review” exercise- complete with nerf ball and mini-hoop.

It quickly became apparent that I had it good having him as a student teacher. He required very little supervision, and he showed he could solve his own problems.

At the time, he was the starting point guard on the Knox men’s basketball team. His energy and his work ethic in the classroom for me, was exactly how he approached things on the basketball court.

It was all great except for one thing- Tanner told me from the beginning that he didn’t think he wanted to go into teaching. He thought he would prefer to become a college basketball coach. While I have no doubt that Tanner would be successful in whatever he chose to do- I thought he was too good in the classroom not to become a teacher.

Harley Knosher's Medalist Camps

Starting in the late 1980's thru the early 2000's- most major colleges had "team camps" for both boys and girls basketball. For Galesburg girls, we went first to University of Michigan. Their team camp was in late July or early August for 6 days of basketball. Later we went to University of North Carolina, Notre Dame, Purdue, Wisconsin, and Missouri. 

In the 1990's most of these were 5-6 days long. And usually the schools would offer multiple sessions- you could choose what dates you wanted to go. But over time, the team camps have faded at many schools. Fewer schools offer camps, and usually the camps now are only 2-3 days. 

But before the major universities got started up with team camps. Knox College and Coach Harley Knosher hosted the Medalist Basketball Camps. Medalist ran camps throughout the midwest at small colleges in the late '70's and early '80's. If you were a serious basketball player, this is where you wanted to go to play basketball. Knox had one week sessions, and often a couple boys and a couple girls sessions. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Exploring Our Limits

This picture from 1981 is one of my favorite sports pictures.

In December of 1980, we had lost at East Moline 73-37. And truthfully, the game was not as close as the score might indicate. It was a game that started badly, and just got worse! At this time, only the first game vs conference teams counted, so East Moline had won the WB6 with a perfect 5-0 record when we played them again in January of 1981. We entered the game with an undistinguished 5-5 record.

After our first game, some quotes by players and the coach in the Quad City paper were not very complimentary of our team. One quote that stood out was a statement by the coach,"When they came out and tried to play us man to man, my jaw dropped." He went on to basically say he could not believe looking at their talent and our talent that we would even think we could guard them man to man.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lean On Me

(Register-Mail photo)

A sports expression is that "losing builds character." Others claim that "losing doesn't build character, it reveals character." Hopefully both statements are true about losing- "losing builds character and losing reveals character." But even that statement doesn't go far enough. Sports are in schools for claimed learning experiences that one gets from sports. Therefore, it would be more accurate to say, "Sports build character and reveal character."

But to grow and learn from sports experiences, athletes must be willing to grow and learn. They must want to learn. A player must be invested in the process.

None of us want to lose, but 50% of the teams in each game lose. Most likely, we will experience losses at some point. A key to success in sports is an athlete and a team's ability to take a loss and use the loss to grow.

To grow from a loss, three things must take place-