Dynasty in the making

Dynasty in the making
March 22
05:00 2018

The boys varsity basketball team from Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy just won yet another state championship, their fifth in the last 10 years.  The Phoenix have been a force on the court throughout this entire decade and their sustained success has been a staple of the program.

Phoenix head coach Andre Gould has been with the program since Day One. Their first-year team only included ninth- graders, but Gould says they were very talented.  Three years later that same group of ninth-graders brought home the first championship to Prep.

“In 2008, I knew we had a good team because we had lost in the regional round the year before to Thomasville and we brought everyone back, so we figured that we would be in good shape,” said Gould. “The only thing about that was we were not placed in a conference yet, so we always had to play the toughest team in the first round of the playoffs.”

Gould gives much of the credit for consistent success of the program to that initial championship team.  He says they laid the foundation of excellence that is still expected to this day.

“When you bring kids into your program, you have to make sure the kids buy into the fact there is a program here,” he said.  “You have to let them know that nine out of 10 times there will be junior or senior leadership so they may have to wait their turn.”

He says as the program continued to win, that brought buzz to the school and the team, which made kids want to come there to play.  Gould is proud of the team’s consistent success, but to him that is not what brings him the most joy.

For Gould, he is most proud of the fact that every player that has come through his program has graduated from high school.  Of those graduates, only two have not gone on to college right after high school.

“Sometimes people like to come down on us because of low test scores, but we do put out some pretty great students here,” he continued.  “We have people that have gone on to become doctors and lawyers because of their time here.”

“Making sure they graduate is one of my responsibilities to my students and to my community.  Obviously I am coaching a lot of young black males and all of them are not going to play college basketball, but what they can do is have the opportunity to go to college.”

When it comes to this year’s championship team, Gould says his team last year was probably more talented than this year’s squad.  He says the biggest difference was this year’s team played more as a collective group.

Gould has proved himself to be one of the best coaches on the high school level not only in the city, but across the state of North Carolina as a whole.  While many praise Gould for his accomplishments, he is still overlooked whenever someone mentions the best coaches in the city.  Gould says that does not bother him because his results will speak for themselves.

“As an old gospel song says ‘May my works that I’ve done speak for me’ and that’s kind of the way I look at it,” he said.  “I don’t go around tooting my own horn because that’s not what it’s about for me.

“If my work is good enough then it will speak volumes for what I tried to do and accomplish.  I don’t do this for the accolades.  That stuff is nice but that is not the reason why God has placed this in my life.”

Gould says he does not dwell on the fact he is not recognized as much as he should be.  He says his satisfaction comes from seeing his players “walk across that stage.” 

Growing up, Gould says many people looked out for him in order for him to make it to this level.  His goal is to give back to the younger generation just as the older individuals looked out for him as a youth.

Out of everything he has achieved over the years as a coach, he says, his biggest accomplishment was seeing his first graduation class walk across the stage.  Gould says going forward, he expects Winston-Salem Prep to have continued excellence on the court but more importantly, in the classroom.

As Gould continues to rack up championships, his name is sure to go down as one of the greats.  Winston-Salem Prep is home to one of the city’s hidden gems.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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