Editor’s Note: Will Gingery is a graduate of Bexley High School near Columbus, Ohio, where he played basketball from 2009-13. He spent his youth going to Bexley basketball camps and has always had a special place in his heart for the sport. This season he started his coaching career, earning an assistant coaching position with the freshman team at his alma mater. This is a look into his perspective as a new coach just entering into the second phase of basketball life.
A year and a half ago, when I returned to Columbus after graduating college, I ran into the varsity head coach at Bexley High School. He took over the program two seasons ago, so I didn’t play for him in high school, but we knew of each other. I knew I would be working in real estate and have some flexibility in the winters, so I asked him if he had any coaching openings in the program.
He didn’t have anything, and I never played for him, so he owed me nothing.
But he made it happen anyway, adding a freshman assistant coach position. He didn’t need to do this, and I am forever grateful that he did. At the time, all I wanted was to give back to the basketball program that gave me so much growing up.
Being a freshman basketball coach has its pros and cons. Because it’s the freshman team, the varsity coach allows the head coach and myself to experiment a bit and do some things differently than what they do at the varsity level, which is nice. Then there are games where maybe 17 people are in attendance, so anytime I get upset and decide to raise my voice and coach my players, everyone in attendance gets to probably hear a little bit more than I would have wished.
Nonetheless, as crazy as it may sound, being an assistant basketball coach from the freshman team at my alma mater is a dream come true.
Coaching at this level brings a new adventure every day. When coaching 14 and 15-year-old boys, you never know what you are going to get. Some days, the boys are super focused and we will have better practices than I could have ever imagined. Then other days we will struggle to make five consecutive wide open layups in warm-ups, and it looks like the boys would rather being playing Fortnite than be at practice.
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On game days, it almost feels like something has to go wrong or else it wouldn’t be game day. For home games, the head coach and I are often stuck with setting up the entire gym 20 minutes prior to tip off. Away games usually call for at least one player bringing two left shoes or the wrong color jersey. It’s always something. But that’s what we signed up for.
Though it seems I have complained about more things than I haven’t, coaching freshman basketball has been super rewarding. Because I’m less than a decade older than these kids, I’m able to relate to them. I walked the same hallways they walk and shared the same locker room they use. That allows me to create unique bonds with each and every one of them, which gives them the confidence to play their best brand of basketball and work hard for our coaching staff.
Basketball is such a small piece of what these kids do, but I know there are so many valuable lessons they can take and apply to the other aspects of their lives. Ultimately, being an assistant basketball coach for the freshman team at my alma mater has been unbelievable. Bexley’s basketball program taught me so much as a kid growing up, and I am very thankful that I now have the opportunity to give back to the same program that helped shape me into the man I am today.
I hope you get a similar opportunity on your journey and get to feel as rewarded as I have.