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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Q/A with Mark Makeever

Mark guarding Bruce Douglas of Quincy.
I had a chance to have a Q/A with Mark Makeever. Mark is a great lesson on the value of being focused on the process. It doesn’t matter if you are a player or a coach, you have to enjoy the grind. You have to enjoy going to practice. Psychologists say this is true of any career or profession- to succeed you must have a passion for what you do.

Mark grew up in Galesburg and loved basketball. In JH and as soph and junior in HS, basketball did not return the love. He was a part time player. He describes himself as having been a “20/20 guy,” getting in if Galesburg was up 20 or down 20. He went onto to be a highly successful player as a senior and then in college- on very good teams. And from there, he has had an unbelievable coaching career in Oklahoma and Texas.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think Mark has “worked” a day in his life. He is someone who just loves what he is doing. When he was as a sophomore going thru a 2-3 hour practice, going home to eat, and then going to play basketball at the Knox County YMCA- he doesn’t seem to see it as having been work. And while he did want to get better so he could play, that doesn’t seem like it must have been his main reason. He just loved playing basketball.

If any of you follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook, you quickly realize he doesn’t do anything halfway. He has a passion for everything- his family, his religion, his teaching, his travel, and his personal fitness. Originally, I thought this would be a story about “the grind” to be successful. The reality is that it is a story about “passion and joy.”

Mark Makeever is a Galesburg High graduate of 1980. At Churchill, Mark played off and on. As a junior at GHS, he describes himself as having been a “20/20 guy”, getting in if the Streaks were up 20 or down 20. Senior year, he led team in minutes played, was voted “Most Inspirational,” and was Honorable Mention All-Conference and All-State. His senior year the Streaks went 21-6 and ended Quincy’s long winning streak.

Mark went onto Parkland JC, where he was JC All-State. From Parkland, he went to Panhandle State in Oklahoma. While at Panhandle, they were nationally ranked and Mark was All-District.

Mark has gone onto coach both boys and girls basketball in Texas and Oklahoma. His teams have gone 531-218. He won over 100 games at three different high schools. While coaching 1A to 4A schools, has taken both girls and boys teams to the Elite 8 level. They have appeared in nine Sweet 16’s, two Elite 8’s, three Final Fours with two State Runners-up. And as you would expect, he has been selected Coach of the Year on 7 different occasions.

Son, Corey in Oklahoma HS All-Star game.
Mark has been married to his wife, Kim for 33 years. She teaches Kindergarten. Son, Corey is married to Brooke and have two girls, Adley 20 months and Avery 2 months. Corey and Brooke work for a Christian organization named Stumo which helps lead college kids to Christ. His twin daughters are Mandy and Amber. Mandy is a teacher/coach. Amber is an administrative assistant at a church. All three of his children were All-State basketball players, and all played college basketball. Mandy and Amber received full rides to Colorado State. Everyone in the family played college basketball.

Mark & wife, Kim with daughters who both played for
Colorado State Univ.
Presently Mark is retired as a coach, but teaching, officiating, and driving the school bus!

Massey- As you grew up in Galesburg, did you have any idols who inspired you?

Mark- First I would have to say my Dad. His and my Grandpa sports background were an influence. Then as a younger player the two pros that come to mine were Paul Westphal and Dave Cowens. Older years Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Galesburg idols were those Scott Kelly/Mike Campbell teams. I learned so much from playing with and against Craig Johnson in the infamous Johnson back yard. I forgot Chris Mullin. My favorite player to watch in college. I learned so much from him of how and when to get your shot off against better athletes.

Massey- You were such a great example of what can happen when someone just keeps working. There had to be times you felt discouraged about whether you were going to ever get to play. Do you remember times when you were close to give up on playing basketball? What made you stick with it?

Mark-  A few years ago I heard a story about Sam Cassell. How much he just loved to play. He said if he didn't make it playing organized ball he would still be playing somewhere. I guess that was me too. I just loved to play. The flow, the constant decision making, the illusion, the teamwork, the competition, the next play, the game point, the feeling after of satisfaction of a win or the perseverance of a competitor to say, "I got next" after a loss. Pickup games/sports do not have an agenda, a winner a loser, and respect either way if you compete. I loved the freedom when on the court. No problems, worries, agendas. Just the game!

Massey-  We sometimes like to think someone is an "overnight" success. You would seem to fit that, not playing much at all as a junior and then really becoming a star on a successful team as a senior. The reality is that most "overnight" successes have invested years to reach their success. When you weren't playing, what were you doing to make yourself better? What do you attribute the huge change from junior to senior year?

Mark shooting over Eric Johnson at the
Johnson's outdoor court. 
Mark-  Ball, basket, love for the game. During season: I played all the time. Soph and Junior year I was on meat squad in practice- 3rd team. Some might not be motivated to practice in that situation, on the floor most of practice going against 1st and 2nd team. Me, what a better way to get better. Playing against better players all the time. Then I would get home eat and head to the YMCA to play pickup vs older men for a couple hours. At first I would hang around outside and make an occasional outside shot. But after a couple years of this I was dominating. (Also the good Lord let me grow 6 inches in one year.)
      During off season I loved to workout on my own- music box, ball, basket, jump rope.
      Johnsons back yard! All that studying led up to the Johnson test! The best of the best played here. If you could hold your own here you could play with anybody. One summer I remember we had six different MVPs of their respective teams playing. From HS, JC, NAIA, D-2, D-3, to D-1. Amazing!!

Massey- Was there a game or moment your senior year that it hit you that you were going to reach your goals?

Mark-  The moment was when I started my first game my senior year. That was my very first big goal of my life. To start for the Silver Streaks, nuf said!  With all the work on my own, playing against all types of players and passing the Johnson test,  I was confident I had made it. 

Massey- Who were your teammates your senior year? Any games that stand out for you that year?

Mark- Teammates were Clay Britton, Tom Brown, Casey Piggee, Rob Long, Scott Mendez,    Dewayne Sperlin.
        Beating Quincy at home breaking their long conference winning streak in front of a sold out crowd. They had at least 3 D-1 players on that team. Micheal Payne (Iowa), Bruce Douglas (Illinois) was actually MVP there. Dennis Douglas (Northern Illinois). I had 16 pts and 4 made fts in last minute to seal game. Hard work does pay off! Haha

Massey-  You went on to be a hugely successful boys and girls basketball coach in Texas. Everyone always wants to make comparisons, did you feel you needed to approach coaching boys and coaching girls differently? 

Son, Corey who played for Central Oklahoma.
Mark- Venus/Mars?!?! Difference in coaching boys and girls. I believe your expectations don't vary. However handling each motivationally and socially, I think I handled each differently. But this is also the case for each individual! To me one thing all good coaches do is get to know their players and what makes them tick. What motivates them? Why do they do what they do? What gets them to perform their best?
         First boys: I was more blunt, in your face, tough love type of coach. I automatically got respect from them with my playing ability. With boys I had to stress how important it was to work on fundamentals. All they want to do is play. Competitive by nature. Want a winner and loser. Self esteem is based on accomplishments.
Now girls: not as blatantly personal in explaining mistakes. Girls by nature want to always do well so when they don't they are already disappointed. More encouraging needed. But girls will work at everything! We did more competitive drills with girls. They would do fundamentals all day but didn't want to compete(play) all the time. Especially against friends or people they know. Self esteem is based on relationships. So I believe more team building is necessary also. 

          Differences: confidence, you can have a boy who is 12th man and he thinks he is all state. You can have a girl who is best player in the state and not think she's very good. So again affirmations with girls I believe is more important.

Massey- You coached your teams to over 500 wins, and you didn't just have a couple great years. Your teams were good year after year. You posted some pictures on Facebook of one of your locker rooms, and talked about building culture. What are some of the things you did to try to build a winning culture at three different schools? And were the foundations of your winning culture?

Mark with one of his many championship teams. His
daughters played on this team.
Mark- "Play hard, smart, and together."
"It's amazing what we can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit."
" When you're not practicing somewhere someone is and when you meet you're beat."
“Be humble, be part of something bigger then you and out work everyone.”
"Two things we can control: our attitude and effort."

       I ready many many books of the great coaches. Coach K, Dean Smith, John Wooden, Pat Summit, Rick Pitino, Bob Knight, etc..... Stole ideas from so many.
        My playing days I was fortunate to play for many great coaches. Coach Swanson. Who gave me my first chance. His competitive nature rubbed off on me. Coach Tom Cooper at Parkland was a Bobby Knight advocate. He was a master of competitive practice drills that many I used my whole career. The Morgan brothers Bill and Bob, taught fundamentals and practice transfers to games.
        Philosophy/ culture: live up to those quotes above. Defensively we played what I didn't like to play against. In your face aggressive defense. Ideally full court. Think an advantage I had from my playing days was having different roles on teams. From that last guy to a star. I understood how players felt in both circumstances. So I played a fast pace(because it's more fun) style and played 10-12 players deep. If a kid got in game even for just a short amount of time in first half he was more apt to be ready later and now felt a part of team and was a better teammate.
          Offensively: run made or missed, motion offense, go to man was who ever was open( Billy Donovan). Assist and hockey assists were huge in our style. Turnovers a big no no!!
       Lastly, my whole success can be summed up from my own beliefs and a statement I heard at a clinic in Amarillo from legendary Dimmitt, Texas coach Kenneth Cleveland about building a program. "Access to the gym!" The more my players played the better coach I was. No shortcuts. "If you’re not practicing somewhere someone is and when you meet your beat." ~~~ Bill Bradley.

Massey- I attended a clinic put on by Tom Cooper at Wheaton College. It was entitled a “Competitive Motivational System.” I have used a lot of his concepts in practice organization too- small world. Your thoughts on creating culture for your teams is like a clinic to read/hear- thanks!!

Massey- From what I can tell, you really push yourself physically to maintain strength and conditioning. Would you have described yourself as a demanding coach? I believe you win games in practice. How do you feel you won games with how you practiced?

Mark: Again many of my philosophies come from my own experiences. Practice makes permanent. I made myself into a player with hard work. So that philosophy automatically got instilled to my players. I guess one way to let you know how important I thought practices were, I have 71 state days built up. When I coached I didn't want to miss. In my mind one missed workout was like missing a month.

Conditioning is the #1 staple in playing the game of basketball the right way. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. My players thru the years ran cross country, if they weren't in another fall sport. A couple legendary girls coaches Dean Weese and Joe Lombard started this- believing the mental toughness and conditioning cross country created were so beneficial.

I developed the philosophy from other great coaches that practice should be harder then the games. I wanted to put so much pressure on my players in practice that games were easy. "The hay is in the barn." I loved the preparation, game planning and organizing of a practice and practice plan as much as anything!

Massey- As you look back on your coaching career, if you had it to do over again, would there be anything you would do differently?

Mark- Hardest question yet! I think what I would do differently is the same thing that made me a successful coach- balance my time more. I was 24/7/ 365 about hoops. But it's what I loved to do so I don't think I could do it differently. But health wise it wasn't good. In fact, when I got to the point that I wasn't wanting to think about it constantly I got out. "It's only work if you want to be doing something else." So, I didn't work for 26 years. 😀

Massey- You coached your son and both your daughters? How did that go for you? Was it tough to go back and forth from being a parent and being a coach? 

Mark-  Actually read Bob Hurley’s book about coaching his two boys. I think it went pretty well. I was hard on my son but learned from my mistakes and was better with my girls. I didn't take stuff home so that was good. Lucky for me they were all really good so that helped with parent issues. I had same expectations for all my players, whether the star or not.

Girls AAU coach who I was also an assistant for might of summed it up. Our last tournament we were eating breakfast and he said, "Well, you will go down as the only parent I've had that actually told me to take their kid out of the game."

Massey- All three of your children had great careers in high school and went onto play in college. Was it tough to go from being their coach to then just being a parent? 

Mark- Not too hard, just second guess the coaches sometimes like everyone.

Massey- You have gone over to the dark side now by being an official. As an official, would there be advice you would give to players and to coaches? Having been both a coach and an official, do you have advice for officials? 
Mark- "Next play." That's the best advice I can give players and coaches. I wish I would have officiated before I coached. In fact, in a perfect world all coaches should have to officiate and all officials should have to coach.

Officials need to realize it's the coach’s main employment (especially head hs coaches). Most officials it's a part time job. I would let coaches work me because I've been there. Just don't get personal. And a coach loses all credibility if he complains all the time. I've told a coach, "I may miss some but I don't miss them all." Now sub-varsity coaches I had little patience for when they wanted to complain. Their kids have so much to learn that should be their main concern. If your kids don't know how to line up for a ft and you want to criticize my officiating. No!

Players, shut up and play. The games hard enough. No patience for players talking.

Lastly, we are all human. We as a coach and as an official don't know what their day has been like. Use some tact, it can go a long way.

Massey- Your thoughts on officiating and coaching offer such a great perspective on things. We tell players to move onto the next play. But when it comes to officials, we as coaches don’t seem to move onto the next play very well!! And your comment of officials needing to recognize that for coaches it is their employment. Some officials don’t realize how much time the players and coaches in practice before the ball is tipped off- we don’t just show up that night.

Massey- When you make it back to Galesburg, where do you have to make sure you stop to eat?

Mark- Happy Joes-taco pizza, Maid-rite, and Steak and Shake.

Massey- You are a Westerner now, and you do a lot of traveling. Is there any place in the west that may not be a famous destination that you would recommend people visit?

Mark- Fell in love with Colorado when daughters were up there. We really like south part of Rocky Mountain national park. A town called Grand lake. Lots of moose and elk in that area. Also Trail Ridge road thru park is amazing. Just got back from a little resort town in New Mexico called Red River- really liked it. Anywhere in mountains I like!!

Massey- Finish by challenging people. Can you give us a description of one of your workouts?

Mark- Have always worked out. Played basketball up until about 45 a lot. Now I lift weights and joined an outdoor fitness group called Camp Gladiator. Has gotten me in really good shape. My favorite would be interval workouts that involve weights, body weight and running.

Massey- Thanks for taking the time, Mark. Your energy, commitment, work ethic, and passion are inspiring! And in talking about creating culture and building practices- you gave a coaching clinic. Big thanks!!

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