Ever watched a sporting event and thought that you could coach, you could lead the team to a win?
That was one of my challenges this year.
See what I could do coaching a high school basketball team.
In the Waverly summer league I got a chance to coach Mansfield’s varsity in their game against Waverly.
In the end, Mansfield’s players made me look good.
Mansfield’s players made shots, they played hard and Jacob Evans hit a game-winning three.
I’d love to say as the coach I had some big role in it, but that would not really be true.
I put kids on the field, and realized how talented, and hard-working the Mansfield players are.
Going up against Waverly’s 6-foot, 8-inch star Scott Woodring, Mansfield’s players, who were all around 6-1 to 6-2 or smaller, double teamed him, they forced turnovers on defense and they came away with the victory.
The idea to play a zone or double-team Woodring is something that anyone at the game could have figured out. So, my biggest challenge as a coach was subbing people in and out. I did realize how hard that can be, just worrying about involving players in the game, but also not wanting to disrupt what the players are doing on the court.
After losing a lot to graduation last year, the Tigers are a much younger team now.
“I think we are doing surprisingly well for how young we are,” Alex Stein said. “But, we’ve played together our whole life, so it’s no different.”
This group learned from some of the older guys a season ago, and they are ready for their chance to shine now.
“We are a young group, we play our hardest,” Logan Tokarz said. “Behind the big guys, Dylan Meyer, Garrett David, who just graduated, we have just got to come out and show our potential.”
“We are very excited,” Evans said. “We know what we can do. We are young, we have been playing together a lot, so we are ready to show what we can do.”
Playing against a big guy like Woodring, with Mansfield’s centers out of town, the Tigers know that experience can help them in the season.
“It’s going to help us a lot,” Tokarz said. “As the summer goes on we are going to have to realize we have to change some stuff from last year, since we aren’t as big as guys like Dylan and Garrett.”
The players know that no matter their size, they have to play hard.
“Even though our big guys aren’t here, we try our hardest, try and jump for rebounds and box out,” Stein said. “It puts more pressure on us, our guards need to rebound, our smaller guys have to box out. But, we do a pretty good job once we get the rebounds in transition.”
Many of the Mansfield kids are making the transition from junior high or JV, and they are trying to get ready for this level.
“It’s a big transition,” Stein said. “Honestly, I’m not sure we are as prepared as we can be for the varsity level, but I think we took it on as well as we could.”
One constant for Mansfield is the work they put in.
“Our practices are intense, hard, challenging,” Evans said. “We work harder in practices and open gyms and try and show coach we can start.”
All the success Mansfield has had over the years motivates the guys.
“It’s a lot for us,” Stein said. “We don’t want to be the team that loses all the time.”
The Tigers put some pressure on themselves, but they are ready for it.
“It’s a lot of pressure to have all the eyes on us, we are expected to be good, we expect to be good, our bar is high, but I think we can do well this year,” Tokarz said.