However, I need to insert two things here just for the record. I do actually talk to Coach Croft quite a bit. Second, his dad, like me, has coached forever and a day and can give him plenty of advice and perspective on coaching. I can just add a little insight from a Trigg County standpoint.
First, let me say good luck to you, Coach. I hope you win them all. The reality, however, is that you won’t. Talent tends to run in cycles at a rather small school like Trigg County. Unless a coach cheats and recruits, then you are most likely to have your ups and downs as most coaches do. I have known you long enough to know that you will play by the rules and play with the kids you have. Therefore, you can never get too up or too down. I probably violated that rule quite a bit by getting way up and way down.
Second, each season is a marathon, not a sprint. To get from point A to point C, you have to go through point B, and there are many peaks and valleys along the way.
The next thing is something you probably already know since you grew up in the 5th District with your dad coaching at Crittenden and Livingston. Let me point it out anyway. The 50-something-year-old woman turning cartwheels on the sideline and cheering like she is out of her mind really isn’t. I mean, she is cheering, but isn’t out of her mind. She is just Ladonna, and she is a one of a kind person and Wildcat fan. She is on a 24-hour natural high.
I am just giving you these at random, so here is another tidbit. There is no good way to get to Livingston. Just be glad the games are now at Smithland instead of Burna, which was 10 miles further and you couldn’t drink the water. Enough said.
This is a really positive one. You will find that Trigg County is the most giving community ever. The folks here will really support your teams, especially if you are winning. Give them time, however, because December is a busy month. The crowds will begin to grow in January, and by tournament time, Trigg County fans are as good as any in the region.
Be thankful for the Black Hole. Our student body cheering section has grown into a force. They will motivate your team and intimidate others. Just make sure Captain Kullen Garner doesn’t take too many shots in warms ups. He likes to sneak in a few. You can’t beat him, however.
Oh yeah, don’t forget to triple check all the CDs your players want you to play for warm up music. There are very few without a bad word or two in them. Don’t let one of them slip by. Administration sort of frowns on that, as they should.
Also, Coach, never get too down on yourself over the years. I came home from a road game that we lost and was really sulking in the office. Our legendary bus driver Millard Griffin came in and said, “Coach get your head up. You had to make several key decisions during that game, and you had to make them quickly. You based all of them on what you thought was right, therefore they were the right decisions. Any fool can look back with hindsight and tell you what you should have done.” I sure hope you can find a modern-day Millard Griffin here to be there like that for you.
Last but not least, let me tell you this, Coach Croft. This was told to me by an ex-superintendent many moons ago. I complained because the band was getting concession money at our games but didn’t come to every game. That wise old superintendent came by the gym after practice and said, “Coach Wright, come outside with me.” He then proceeded to walk me out to the rock wall in front of the school. The superintendent then said, “Coach, there are two things that you don’t mess with here. One is this rock wall, and the other is the band.” I never forgot that. You see, we have a great band at Trigg County and they need funding, too.This has always been their source. Trust me, Mr. Mroch will be there when you need him. He is actually a big hoops fan, even if he wrongfully cheers for the Indiana Hoosiers.
Coach, I could go on forever but I must stop somewhere. You are a bright young coach full of the energy that I once had. You have cut your teeth in the gym and have been on a collision course with a coaching career your entire life. I think you will do really well, and I sincerely wish you the very best. If you ever need me, you have my number, I might could even be your modern-day Millard Griffin. See you in the gym.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.