Team Spotlight – Northview Lady Titans

Coach Background:

  • Chris Yarbrough, Head Coach
  • 5 years at Northview (2 as assistant, 3 as HC)
  • Twitter: @CoachYarbrough

What is your favorite quote?
“Embrace the target.” – Joe Madden, Chicago Cubs Manager

What is your favorite coaching memory?
I’ve only been a head coach for 3 years, but qualifying for the State Tournament last season is probably my favorite memory. We were in the 4/5 matchup in the Region Tournament, playing the host school. We built a lead in the 4th quarter, only to squander it and head to overtime. My two freshmen post starters both fouled out in OT, and it wasn’t looking good. We pushed it to 2OT and took a 3-point lead with 10 seconds left after one of our seniors sank two free throws. I called timeout and said don’t worry about them going to the basket. Just guard the 3-point line, but of course we follow the drive and the girl kicks out to a wide-open shooter. The shot just misses and we qualify for state for the first time in 5-years. It was a big part of laying the foundation for our season this year.

What is the best piece of advice you’d give other coaches?
Don’t be afraid to try something different. If it doesn’t work, then discard it. If it does work, keep it and adapt as needed.

Who is the best leader you coached in your years of coaching and what made him the best?
We have a junior guard, Megan Cistulli, who is the most positive leader I’ve ever seen. She is so supportive of her teammates in everything to do. She is the most vocal player we have in practice, games and is willing to have the tough conversations with the players. She’s really been that way since she was a freshmen. If she misses a practice, we miss her energy that she brings. On the bench, she is the loudest cheerleader for our players. She never disengages from the team and that is so hard to find.

Thoughts on the Lead ‘Em Up program:

Why did you initially get the program for your team?
I saw Adam at PGC this fall and I was really impressed with the message. I thought since our team was so young, we needed something to tap the potential of the team. Leadership was something that I thought could really improve and would help us on the floor, so I wanted to make sure that found something that could help us in that area. I thought Lead ‘Em Up could really benefit us in those areas and I didn’t hesitate to order it for our team.

What was the biggest change you saw in your team as you went through the  program?
I thought as the weeks went on, the girls were really started look for things to praise each other. They were quick to point out the good they saw in each other, which was awesome. They were able to find the small things that made a difference on and off the floor. They  were genuinely happy for each other and it helped us become closer, which I think has helped us play better.

Did the program fall short, meet or exceeded your expectations? 
I really felt that the program met my expectation this year. It took a few weeks for the girls to really buy in, but I thought it was really important to have someone outside the program lead our sessions. It gave the players another voice that wasn’t always mine. I think they can tune coaches out if you give them too much, and having someone lead outside of your program allows them to open up more. Overall, I was really impressed with how our girls responded and shared with everyone all year and I think it was a big part of our team success.

What was your favorite lesson and why?
I really loved the accountability lesson. It was about the time where we were having a little rough patch in the season after the Christmas Tournament. We didn’t play well, and we were communicating like I thought we should. It was great to hear the girls really working through some of issues on the team in relation to our struggles on and off the court. From that moment on, we really started to gel as a team. Also, the lesson where the girls had to tell their stories about who they are was incredible. I didn’t know much of the information that shared. It really showed me that I could get to my own players even more.

What were your students saying about the program?  
I think at first they were really hesitant to open up even though they are a close group. The games really loosened them up and it was really awesome to see the girls that never talk open up and share about their own stories. I really think as the season went on they started to buy in.

What would you say to a coach who is considering getting the Lead ‘Em Up program?
I think it’s a really good idea for any team looking to foster more of a community rather than a collection of players. I knew leadership was one of the areas where we were going to struggle since we were so young, and this is a great way to cultivate a culture of positive energy.

I’m glad I found Lead ‘Em Up when I did. It’s been a great addition to our team. As of today, we are 23-3 and are the No. 1 Ranked Team in Class 6A. We obviously have some talent, but I don’t know if we would have reached our full potential without this team bonding the way they did. I think this was exactly what we needed to to come together to accomplish something really special.

Learn more about the Lead ‘Em Up program here!