June 13, 2014

On The Rebound: They don’t make them like that anymore

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — In the last couple of years we have seen coaches like Bill Carson and Harold Robinson hang up their whistles. These are the same people that were coaching when I was a skinny little know-it-all at London Elementary. Lifers.

I consider it a blessing to have been raised in the era of coaches like these and G.J. Smith, Jack Cupp, and Roy Bowling. There is something to be said for the continuity of having the same face and the same system established at a school. The younger players coming up feel like they are playing for an icon as big as Rupp.

That is not a knock on current coaches. Most do not plan on staying in one position until retirement. They will move to a more lucrative position within their own school or another. Pay is not the reason anyone goes into coaching.

Bill Carson told me in a recent interview that he has learned more from young coaches about technology in the past 10 years than he ever knew before. Coaches now turn to Ipads, film, and online research to have a scouting report on their opponents. In the 70s, you focused more on just doing what you do and not the opponent.

There a few more things that have changed a lot in the past three decades for coaches from my observation from the sidelines.

Coaches have much more contact with parents than ever. Much of this comes from cell phones, email, etc. Combine this with the fact everyone thinks their child is the best thing since Pete Rose or Pete Maravich and you have a stressful situation. I don’t remember my parents ever talking to one of my coaches. It helps a kid to grow when they have to handle their own issues.

It’s become a game of one-sport athletes. There are still some that play two sports, but gone seem to be the days of moving from football, to basketball, to baseball. Much of this is due to the specialization of sports with travel ball and year-round competition. There are also coaches that steer their players away from the other disciplines. It’s not about being Bo Jackson or Dion Sanders, but it means something to represent your school as much as you can.

There is little question that athletes are bigger, faster, and fitter than they were in the 70s and 80s. Maybe it is the common refrain from the old guy, but sometimes it seems like these kids don’t get it when it comes to such concepts as teamwork and fundamentals.

If there were any kids that switched schools during my playing days, I sure don’t remember it. The kids that played together in high school also played together in junior high and elementary. Again this goes back to travel teams and AAU where the line between teammates becomes murky.

I don’t want to turn back the clock or relive glory years. I don’t want to repeal the three-point shot or ban coaches from trading game films. I do wish we could have a few old concepts make a comeback and I wish good coaches would stay forever.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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