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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-

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Find A Way!!

Patriotism Questioned

While reading about the controversies of today, I reminded of my wife's uncle, William Allen. 

While fighting for the United States, William Allen, was killed in Germany in WW2 on April 19, 1945. A decade earlier, his patriotism was questioned.

In 1934, Knox College was proposing students take an Oath of Allegiance to America. William Allen, as editor of the Knox newspaper wrote an editorial protesting being made to take an oath. The following is part of that editorial-

“To us, the taking of an oath of allegiance has nothing to do with one’s being a good citizen. No amount of saluting or pledging will assure us that we can maintain a government that is based upon the principle of freedom of opinion. We thank God that ours is not “one nation indivisible.” It has been the constant struggle of a limited number of citizens for these ideals, that has made our government one which grants us the privileges which we enjoy today.”

“Just as soon as we reach this much sought-after Utopia, or just as soon as our patriotic organizations manage to get all of the residents within our boundaries fighting for a common cause, we will be conditioned for some dynamic leader of one of the isms who will step in and take all responsibilities from our shoulders.”

“If American civilization is to progress, there must always be maintained that group of communists, socialists, radicals, or what you will, who disagree with the flag-waving, speech-making, oath-taking D.A.R. type of organization made up of “citizens” who pay their servants and employees ten cents an hour and spend money putting up silk flags in churches and schools.”

After writing this editorial, William Allen was labelled as being a “communists”, by some students and some faculty at Knox. He did not fit their definition of “patriotism.”

William Allen was killed within miles of Berlin on April 19, 1945. Bill’s sister, Elizabeth, wrote following about Bill, “He died as he lived, believing in greater freedom of thought and action, greater tolerance and human understanding.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Scott Kelley- From Galesburg to Kentucky

I am not sure what to do as an intro to my Q/A with Scott Kelly. There are so many directions that one could go.

I could focus on how Scott was one of those late maturing kids, who was the last player on his 7th grade team. He was excited to just be on the team. He developed a passion for the game, and worked hard to improve. And he went from being 6’0” in JH to 6’7” in HS.

Maybe a choice would be how Scott is not the stereotype of the big time athlete who was just there to play. He got advanced degrees after graduating from Evansville, and today is a professor at the University of Kentucky. And he helped developed and administer a program geared toward sports marketing, which was recognized nationally.

All of those are things that we “talk” about, and are great stories.

But for me, the intro is to talk about “The Game.” In 1976, Galesburg defeated Richwoods, who was the #1 team in the State in the Regional championship game at Thiel Gym. Many feel this was the greatest game ever played in Thiel Gym. The game featured four D1 players (maybe I am missing another). The next year, three of the players would start games for Big Ten teams.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"They Are So Naive"

Last week I wrote about the finish of the 1998 season. We had lost to Loyola by 15 in the Elite 8. Loyola went on to win their second straight state title. Although we had everyone- not almost everyone- we had everyone coming back from the 1998 team. Unfortunately, Loyola had their key players coming back too. The question was whether our young players might be a little satisfied with their great success, and not get into working to improve.

The in the summer before the 1999 season, we started Streaks Camp by watching a video. The video was clips from our game vs. Loyola. It was labelled, "Streaks vs Loyola Low Light." It was not a long production, it was about 5-6 minutes long. The message was that Loyola was not going anywhere. If our goal is just to be good and go to State, we can do what we have always done. If we want to beat Loyola, then we have to get better.

Coach Peachey then talked to them about how big Loyola was. Sadly, we were not going to get any taller and Loyola was not going to shrink. So his message was that to handle their height, we needed to get stronger.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rules Changes for 2017-8

The NFHS has put in five rules changes for 2017-8. Among the rule changes are:

1- Officials can give a coach a warning for unsportsmanlike behavior or for violating the coaching box. The official will stop play and issue the warning to the coach. It will be marked in the scorebook. The move is designed to change the coach's behavior without a technical. There is not an indication if there is a penalty for the warning. An official can still issue a technical foul without giving a coach a warning.

2- The coaching box has been expanded from 14 feet to 28 feet. Which means it will extend all the way to the baseline.

Here is a brief description of the changes--

Difference in NFHS and NCAA--

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Coach Kelly Ricketts

Kelly Ricketts is someone who has never been afraid to work. Kelly played both basketball and volleyball in high school. She was talented enough to start on a varsity basketball team as a freshman. But it was not just talent which separated Kelly from the average athlete, it was her work ethic. Sometimes a multi-sport athlete uses one sport as “permission” not to do what is needed in another sport. Kelly never cut corners in either sport. For basketball, she never missed anything we did in the off-season.

But I think the big deal about Kelly is that she has always understood it is about “the process.”  She never took days off at practice- she was focused and worked every day. She accepted coaching, whether it was criticism or encouragement- she made eye contact and let you know she wanted to be coached. And Kelly did the “extras”, which separate athletes- she pushed herself in the weight room 12 months per year.

Why do I bring up her being into “the process?” "The process” is what coaching is all about. To be successful, the coach, and then the team must recognize they have to be willing to put in the grind. The old expression in sports- “everyone wants to win, only a few are willing to prepare to win.” Kelly is a natural for coaching because she is all about putting in the preparation to win.

I had a chance to do a Q/A with Kelly....