Local basketball coaches share what they wished parents knew (part 4)

Local basketball coaches share what they wished  parents knew (part 4)
February 24
05:10 2022

By KP Brabham

This informative article has been split into several parts to avoid losing the valuable insight provided by our local coaches. Part 3 ran in last week’s Chronicle.


Expectations are communicated at the start of the pre-season with a parent meeting. “I’m tough. I coach hard. I don’t hold ill-will. I don’t expect the kids to do it and I explain that from the beginning who I am. I will explain that in detail.”  

Coach Gould ensures, “No parent can ever say ‘He didn’t tell me that.’”  When Gould sits down with his parents, he explains who he is and his non-negotiables. Gould suggests to parents that if the student-athlete is not willing to work, then his program at QEA is not the best fit. Additionally, Coach Gould explains he is the authority at school and if a player gets into trouble, then he’s going to deal with it immediately. “Players are with us eight to 12 hours a day. Parents entrust a lot in us, so from this point to the next four years, I’m a major benefactor in your son’s life. I have to let the parents know that.”

When I asked Coach Gould if he has the traditional 24-hour wait rule to discuss parent concerns, his response was, “It depends on the way it’s brought to my table. [As a parent] if you’re hot-headed, then wait.”  Coach went on to say, “It’s not a lot to talk about after the game. It’s always going to be biased. So let everyone gather their thoughts, let’s talk tomorrow; but again [parents] have to be willing to accept what the coach says. Also, the coach has to be willing to listen to what the problem may be. Nine out of ten times, it will always revert to playing time. What parents think ‘not giving my son a fair chance.’ Parents don’t understand a lot goes on before those 32 minutes. The 32 minutes is the climax of all the work put in during the off-season, during practices. I tell parents, ‘I can promise you I’m not coaching to lose, and if your son is truly better than what we have here, he will be on the floor.’”

Gould explained similar sentiments of previous coaches that the microwave-mentality is there, and patience is much needed. Parents want things now! Coach Gould went into a deeper concern about how parents have the right-now mentality. He added, “Most parents don’t even want their kid to play JV basketball anymore, to work their way up through the ranks. Everybody is looking to say my son is on varsity. Nobody wants to go through the process anymore. Egos are involved, but you have to wait your turn sometimes.”  


Gould believes a lot of it all connects to hard work, but affirms that everyone is not going to college to play basketball. He was asked, ‘What does that hard work look like?’ He responded: “Patience, committing to the grind, working every single day on something, getting away from video games, putting phones down, getting off TikTok. Time wasted on being what I call a ‘social advocate’ versus working on your craft. And when it’s all said and done, I tell everyone, “God decides, not me. You can’t block God’s blessings. That means God’s going to have the final say.’  

“What looks good at this level may not work on that next level.That doesn’t mean that the journey stops.  There are several levels of basketball: National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), junior college (JUCO), DII, DIII, DI, but still there are only but so many slots, about 3,000 to 4,000 scholarships overall, at all levels, with three million kids competing seniors, not even including the global, because basketball has become global. If you get a scholarship or walk-on, count yourself fortunate. Hard work looks that way. It’s every day, work on your craft, hours and hours and hours, and that still may not be enough.


Coach Gould explained his student-athletes and parents transitioning from middle to the high school programs has not been challenging because everyone hears the message constantly, messages are passed down. When you build a program, you build to grow together. Parents will know when it is the end game because the process is explained throughout and what can potentially happen. For example, in our middle school program, they’re having a lot of success, but eventually they’ll transition and begin separating themselves as who is the leader.  

Coach Gould noted that “Because they’re at that age, who looks good now or who you think will be the one now, may not be the one later.”

He asked me from a parent’s experience to look back when my son, Arrington Jones (AJ), was a young player. “The kids who were dominant then became an afterthought once AJ became a junior or a senior. It happens all the time and we have to help parents prepare for that transition. And that’s not easy to do.

“I speak from experience now,” Gould explained with passion about the move from middle school ball to high school ball. “Big jump, faster, stronger, everything. From public school to a national team, big difference, I’m almost dealing with college student-athletes every day versus you may have one or two players who are really, really good, and now dealing with five players and another set of five players who all are DI caliber players. It’s a big jump and a big eye-opener. One thing you have to do is improve. That’s that hard work.”

He provided an example of how even the student-athletes in middle school experience the competition; “In middle school you may have been the best on your team, but when you bring all the middle school teams together, it’s a big jump. Parents should know there are kids who have been in the program two to three years prior to you getting there. As a sixth grader when you came in, that 8th grader went to high school, then you get to high school, that same 8th grader has been in the program two to three years and worked his way up the ranks. That’s how you build your program. That high school student-athlete is not trying to look back and let a freshman come in and let someone take their spot. They’ve worked hard to earn it and you’ll have to go through the same process.”

In private and charter schools, middle school students are allowed to play-up, which means a student-athlete, if he has the skill set, can play on a 9th-grade or JV team. “The opportunity is there. He gets a chance to see it, experience it early, and can start making his adjustments early. Obviously, it’s a big advantage, definitely, for a middle schooler to come in and play in a program where he can potentially play his 8th-grade year or 7th-grade year on a high school level. There’s no denying that. 

“In a middle public school setting, you have to stay on the middle team. Your kid may be the better player on the team, but the opportunity to face tougher competition, someone who will push him, it will be a culture shock when he gets there and realizes ‘I’m no longer the fastest, strongest, not the best dribbler.’  A student-athlete in the charter or private school setting has the opportunity to get that out of the way sooner.”


When asked Coach Gould about his academic stance for his student-athletes, his response was, “I never had a player not graduate, and only one not go to college. Academics is big to me, but at the same time, as coaches, we want the best for our student-athletes, but everybody is not going to be straight-A students. Let’s just put that out there. Everybody wants that, and parents may say coaches don’t care about academics; that’s not true. The kid is a student. The same problems the regular students in the general populations have, our athletes have. We can’t say because he’s an athlete, we want his requirements higher, or we want to focus in more, saying what coaches aren’t doing. The standards should be the same. The issues will be the same.”  

He added that parents have an advantage if the student is an athlete because it gives leverage. If a student-athlete is uninterested or struggling in the classroom, “parents can use the sport, which they love more than anything, to force them to excel in something they don’t want to do, push them into their greater. It’s called an incentive. Some you have to motivate, some you don’t. Yes, I am a coach, but I’m also a realist. That doesn’t mean I’ll have 12 players going to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).”

Coach stated he is always available for his student-athletes, but he doesn’t want to be the liaison to do the teachers’ job. “What can happen is, sometimes we can become overbearing as a coach We have to allow teachers to be teachers. Coach is not there to take care of every problem. You have to use your spades the right way.  I have no problem with communicating with a teacher because I want what’s best for my kids and what’s best for the school as a whole. I try to find a good balance when it comes to assisting teachers. We have to work together. But I’m not coming in on every little thing and I don’t expect a teacher to want me to punish a kid in practice.”  

When asked about studying, Gould replied, “It is a number one priority to go to study hall, tutor with a teacher, the teacher comes first. I’ve never told a student to come to practice when he needs to go to study hall or be with a teacher. Even if I don’t like it, preparing for a big game, it doesn’t matter. Academics comes first and I support especially our Black men. Everybody around us won’t be Einstein and some we have to push over the top.”


I asked Coach Gould about his take on the hot topic of reclassing and his response was, “All schools should have the ability to reclass. All kids are not mature enough to go forward. Kids aren’t ready to go to college, which is part of the reason for the red shirt years. It’s no difference. Truth be told, many freshmen flunk out of college because they weren’t ready to leave the nest. It’s a bigger issue than reclassing itself; Maturity and other things in that nature. Sometimes it benefits kids, but that doesn’t mean every kid needs to reclass, but it should be a service that’s offered, especially if necessary. It’s not solely for athletic purposes. Parents keep kids back in elementary school and there’s no issue made about that. Does it benefit the kid? That’s a case-by-case measurement for me. But again, even when I was in public school, I had no qualms about it either way.”


Coach Gould offered additional advice. “Vital advice for middle school parents is to study the program, the coach, the history of the coach, study everything about it, and be truthful to yourself. Ask and answer, what do you want?  What is your child capable of? Where does he fit in? No situation is perfect. Get off of popularity, what looks good.

“A lot of the controversy is a lot of people say Black coaches can’t get it done, but we can. I’ll entrust kids to us [Black coaches]. You can look at who has the history of doing it generically overall and at what level. It’s tough to look in the mirror, but you have to truly evaluate your kid’s talent. Does my kid fit in here? That question is academic and athletic. Weigh your gives and your takes and what will be sacrificed. Parents ask yourselves: ‘What am I here for’ with your kid? Parents talk about academics, but as soon as the kid doesn’t get into the game, they’re complaining about playing time after saying academics are the most important. If that’s the true reason, stay with that, know it’s a privilege for a kid to make a team.

“So, at QEA we offer the best you can possibly offer academically and athletically, and we expect excellence, for parents to do their due diligence, so it all works together.”

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