Sunday, September 11, 2011
Michelle Wynne- Great Coach
What should you look for in assistant coaches in a basketball progam? This is a topic that head coaches talk to each other about, and it is a topic that is presented over and over in coaching clinics.
I have been fortunate to have many very good coaches and only a very few bad coaches in our program.
Bad assistant coaches may not only not help the players improve and develop their skills, but in some cases may actually cause the players to lose enthusiasm for basketball in general or for the varsity program and coaches in specifically. I did have one junior high coach who so poisoned the young players against the high school that sadly their players were never able to overcome this negative attitude to reach their full potential.
Good coaches at lower levels develop skills and enthusiasm in the players so they are able to become successful at the next levels. One of the best assistant coaches I have had in 30+ years of coaching was Michelle Wynne. At one point she coached freshmen girls and then later coached junior high girls at Churchill.
What made Michelle such a good coach in our program?
1- She got lots of girls to play basketball. She recruited and made sure the 7th grade players continued to play in 8th grade.
2- She cared about her players. Because she cared about the players, she treated them well. She was able to not only make sure the first 5 players had a good experience, but she also gave the girls 6 thru 15 a positive experience too. As a result of Michelle’s approach, non-starters like Mickey Rodriguez continued to play on the high school level and became successful.
3- She was loyal to the high school coaches. She sold her players that if they worked hard they could have a great experience at the high school, as a result her players came to us at the high school level with enthusiasm. And if a former player came back to talk to her because things were not going right, Michelle would always call me so that she could counsel the player correctly.
4- Michelle prepared players for the next level. The skills, drills, and plays we wanted the players to learn in 8th grade were learned. If at summer camp we told one of her players to run #4 Down, they knew what to do. If we said we were going to run “Shell Drill”, they went to the right spots.
5- Michelle communicated with the high school coaches. She would go to high school games, and talk to us after or call us later to ask about things she saw us run.
6- She is a VERY good judge of potential. It is easy in junior high for coaches to be drawn to the “early maturers”, and some of the late maturers get lost in the shuffle. At the end of her season, Michelle would always call or drop a note about her players. She might at that time mention that she thought one of her players could handle playing on the soph team or varsity team as a freshmen- and I appreciated that she never “oversold” any of her players. But her main concern was that she didn’t want some player to be overlooked by the high school coaches. Years ago, she told me, “Don’t sell Andie Allison short.” And then just a few years ago she said the same thing about Megan Young. Her point about Andie and Megan was not that they were great basketball players coming into high school but that they “got it” in terms of what was I was looking for- players who worked hard, players who were good teammates, players who wanted to be coached. Michelle Wynne got it as to why we were successful at the high school level and knew what kind of players we needed to remain successful. She was basically saying to me, “Andie and Megan understand what Streaks basketball is all about.”
Michelle added so much to our program, and we will be forever indebted to her for her work.
The following is my Q/A with Michelle:
Do you remember how you got started playing basketball and what got you excited about basketball as a young girl?
I used to shoot baskets in my dad's shed when I was really young. I got excited about playing basketball when I was in junior high. I like to shoot.
When you were in junior high and then in high school, how was basketball for girls different than it is today?
When I was in junior high, we only had 4 games. It wasn't very competitive. My senior year of high school the 3-point line was added. I was the first athlete to make a 3 pointer in the Alexis High School gym. I could tell you exactly where it was.
What are your favorite memories of high school sports?
My favorite memories are being with my teammates and coaches. I can remember big games that we played but mostly just the times we shared as a team.
You went to tiny Alexis high school. Now as you look back, what was positive about going to such a small school?
I was able to participate in everything. It was a nice place to go to high school.
How did you end up at Knox College?
I went to Knox because of Harley Knosher. That's the main reason. Harley is a good salesman.
You graduated as Knox's leading scorer or one of the top all-time scorers? Coming from Alexis, did you anticipate having the success you had at Knox?
I had hoped for it, but that success wasn't easy. I did my time sitting on the bench. I continued to work at it because it was something I really wanted. My senior year I was co-captain.
You have been a varsity girls coach, freshmen girls coach, junior high girls coach, junior high boys coach, and a grade school girls and boys travel coach. It is tough for anyone to coach, but it is also tough for a mother with young children. Would you encourage a young woman to go into coaching? What do you enjoy about coaching? What did you not enjoy about coaching?
I would definitely encourage a young woman to go into coaching. It has been such an important part of my life. I have made lasting friendships with former players and coaches. Being around the Galesburg teams and coaches, my own children were able to see what it takes to be successful. Gary, Claire, and Evan, are better athletes, I believe, because they were exposed to the GHS program. I enjoy teaching which is what coaching is. I love being around my players. The only challenge for me is not beating myself up over a loss.
With all the different levels of coaching, have you had a favorite level of coaching?
I have enjoyed all levels. The last 2 seasons I coached junior high boys. That was fun, too. I got a few strange looks and even some inappropriate comments from refs and opposing coaches, but that just made it more satisfying when we won.
Based on your experience, how would you finish this- "the trouble with some youth coaches is_____"
they don't stress the fundamentals. Some think they need to have a big strategy with the expectation of winning instead of just working on fundamental skills. They think more about the short-term win rather than the big picture.
When you coached junior high in Galesburg, I always thought you got girls excited about basketball, how do you think you got so many girls fired up about basketball?
To me, the Galesburg program is an easy one to get excited about. As a player, I would have done anything to have the opportunities Galesburg girls have with basketball. I think the girls could feel my passion.
I always trusted your judgment about players. Often you would tell me about some player who was not a star in junior high but who you were sure was going to be a good high school player and a good varsity player. What did you look at in those players to predict success?
I looked at their work ethic and their commitment. They were the loyal teammates who just enjoyed the game of basketball. They were the ones who got just as excited as I about GHS basketball.
What would your advice be to a freshmen player who wants to be successful in high school?
I would tell a freshman to work hard, listen to your coaches, and have a good attitude.
You coached junior high girls and then junior high boys. Any difference?
There really is no difference in my mind. People say that you need to talk to boys differently, to yell more. I never yelled. I never used a whistle. All players want to be taught and be treated with respect.
Your two sons and your daughter seem to be into basketball. How do you balance it just being fun for them vs. helping them recognize the important of investing time and working hard?
I really try not to stress winning even though they know how much I enjoy winning. Basketball has just been something I do with them. They have many fond memories of being in the gym, especially Churchill. My kids were given a golden opportunity to see how a successful program works. They learned the value of working hard and sacrificing yourself thanks to my coaching days in Galesburg. My kids had great role models.
I won't tell anyone but is it true that your husband, John is secretly a huge Wisconsin Badger fan?
That is true, but he won't openly admit it. He says a person must be INSANE to admit being a Badger fan in the middle of Illini nation.
Click on the site for the history of Alexis High School. As soon as you hit the site, you will hear what Michelle's true allegiance is. They play my favorite song!!
Posted by Massey Basketball