COACH'S CORNER: Midnight Madness
by Mike Wright, Cadiz Record Columnist
Oct 17, 2012 | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The date of Oct. 15 stands out in the mind of every serious basketball coach and player. For decades, that date has marked the first day of legal basketball practice for high school and college teams across the state of Kentucky. It is a date that coaches revere and mark on their every calendar. Somewhere around 25 years ago, some clever college coaches decided they would begin their first day of practice as the clock struck midnight to begin Oct. 15. The coaches figured they would draw attention to their program and build excitement as well. The gadgets coaches used to promote their midnight madness basketball practices were endless. Each midnight madness practice at the colleges had its own theme. There was usually music and entertainment as well as gimmicks to fire up the crowd. I have seen coaches enter the gym on motorcycles and even drop from the ceiling harnessed to a rope. The basketball practice on all of these midnight madness events nearly always plays second fiddle to the show.

Once midnight madness practices got established on the college level, you can probably guess what happened next. Yeah, that’s right. It was the trickle-down theory and I am not talking about Reganomics here. I am talking about high school coaches who got the idea that they would host their own midnight madness practices. One of the first high school coaches to do so was a young girls coach from Trigg County in the late 1980s. That was obviously me. Let me take you back and tell you how it went.

I, along with my capable assistant Rick Larson, met our players at the gym at 11 p.m. on Oct. 14. Remember, we could not begin practicing until Oct. 15. Therefore, we had an hour before we were to hit the floor. Coach Larson and I had meticulously planned out that hour between 11 and 12. We were to meet with the players individually to set goals and then have a team meeting to set our collective goals. We figured that the meetings would take up the entire hour. We then planned to roar down the steps from the locker room to the gym floor and burst onto the court before a throng of cheering parents, family and fans. (and some music that our manager was cueing up on a boom box)

Well, here is how the big madness turned out. The clock struck midnight with us in the locker room. We joined hands and yelled Wildcats! Our players then ran down the 20 or so steps from the locker room to the gym floor. Some were so excited that they were taking two steps at a time on the way down. When we hit the gym floor, we looked up to the bleachers to see a total of six fans in attendance. To make matters worse, two of those had wandered in off the street and were intoxicated. They nearly got in a fight with each other and we had to call the cops. Oh yeah, one more thing. When the girls were roaring down the steps, our star center Janay Futrell missed the last step. She sprained her ankle so badly that she missed most of the first month of the season. I guess our midnight madness wasn’t quite as famous or successful as Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness.

We did recover nicely, however. Janay healed and went on to have a great season and we won the 5th District title. Needless to say, we have not had midnight madness since.

OT: I must say this in regarding to Midnight Madness. Brother Paxton Redd does have a midnight madness idea that will work for the future if the date falls right.

Enthusiasm Makes the Difference

Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to jmcgill@cadizrecord.com.

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