Team Spotlight – South County Girls Basketball (VA)

Coach background:

Assistant Coach & Lead’em Up Coach
South County Stallions Girls Varsity Basketball
Lorton, VA

Head Coach
Matrix Basketball AAU
Arlington, VA

Head Coach
Trinity Christian School of Fairfax Girls Varsity Basketball
Fairfax, VA

What is your favorite quote?
“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~ John R. Wooden

What is your favorite coaching memory?
One year I taught a young team the importance of maintaining a healthy diet as an athlete. Gave examples of different foods and portions and when to eat certain foods to fuel their body for games. Near the end of the season a parent spoke with me about his daughter. He said his daughter refused to eat oatmeal at home. Until one day shortly after my lecture, she asked her father to buy extra oatmeal. He was very surprised and she proceeded to explain her reasons why.  That taught me a lot of lessons. First, it truly gave me a real example of how much influence a coach has over its players that respect them. Second, be intentional about everything you say and do. Don’t assume that little things have no impact, good or bad.

What is the best piece of advice you’d give other coaches?
Spend time talking to the parents of the kids you coach. Don’t avoid them, make time to give them the opportunity to engage the coach. It doesn’t always have to be about your philosophies or X’s & O’s. If you are approachable and likable most parents will support the coach when their kids have a disagreement. It’s a great strategy when both parents and coaches are supporting each other. Find a way to give them opportunities to serve and feel like a stakeholder in the success of the program overall. Delegate as much as is appropriately possible so that you can serve in the areas of your strength in your fullest effort.


Who is the best leader you coached in your years of coaching and what made them the best?
The best leader I’ve had the privilege of coaching was a point guard by the name of Savannah Wilson. What made her the best was her diligence in development and respect that she had among her peers the moment she appeared in my 7th grade tryouts. It wasn’t only how she performed which was and continues to be exceptional, but the other attendees immediately stepped their game up. I was able to actively coach her for 3 seasons and personally watched her blossom into a top high school basketball player in the region. She was a coach on the floor in the way she executed and guided her teammates. Often times, I had her lead team drills because I trusted her abilities to demonstrate and instruct. One time as an 8th grader Savannah and another teammate planned and conducted an entire practice. Her teammates respected and followed her lead.  She demonstrated many leadership qualities and she always conducted herself in a selfless manner and always in love.


Thoughts on the Lead ‘Em Up program:

Why did you initially get the program for your team?
The head coach, Patrick Noel, found out about Lead’ Em Up at a PGC Glazier coaches clinic in Washington, DC. He also consulted with a neighboring high school program that implemented the program with their girls basketball program. Coach Noel understood that he would be graduating 6 seniors from his varsity program and that the team would be lead majority by underclassmen. He believed the program would provide structure in managing typical teenager issues in an engaging method. As one of his assistant coaches I accepted the role as the leadership coach throughout the season for our girls varsity team.

What was the biggest change you saw in your team as you went through the program?
What I noticed amongst the team was the trust that the players had in front of each other. There were moments of vulnerability in the activities throughout the Lead’ Em Up program that ranged from players speaking up in front of the group or having to hold each other accountable during practice. We honestly had a safe place from my observation. The extroverts were supportive and the introverts were comfortable sharing. With our group participation didn’t seem forced and I believe most truly embraced the moments we dedicated for Lead’ Em Up.

Did the program fall short, meet or exceeded your expectations?  
I believe that the program definitely met if not exceeded expectations. We met consistently every week throughout our season for Lead’ Em Up sessions. When we had to pause due to winter break and inclement weather the coaches noticed a difference in the chemistry of our players. I knew the program was working when our head coach spoke in front of the team after a tough loss and stated that “we probably need a Lead’ Em Up session.” We like to assume that our sessions impacted the locker room, school hallways, and classroom of our players when the coaches weren’t around.

What was your favorite lesson and why?
My favorite lesson would be the topic on selflessness. I think it was the most important topic of all the Lead’ Em Up sessions. It translates to how we need to perform successfully on the court and how we should conduct ourselves in life. All of our players and coaching staff performed a selflessness act through out the following week. I personally believe it is the core of becoming a successful leader that others would want to be around. If you are an intentional about having a selfless heart and mind you’ll innately server others, hold others accountable, manage how you conduct yourself publicly and privately, and become an effective communicator.

What were your students saying about the program?  
On multiple occasions the team would start up one of the game on activities. We really had a great time being silly and competitive at the same time when we were in it to win it! They were engaging and attentive during our sessions. Our group enjoyed that time off the court and understood that we were investing in them personally not just as basketball players. They understood that we are setting them up to be a successful student in the classroom as well as better person.

What would you say to a coach who is considering getting the Lead ‘Em Up program?
If the coach is truly interested in building the character and leadership of their players they should strongly consider investing in Lead’ Em Up. If they are uncomfortable with being the “Lead’ Em Up coach” they should hire a respected assistant to fulfill that role. You have to be authentic and genuine to set your team up for success. Don’t wait for there to be a problem, then begin looking for solutions. The topics covered reach far beyond the playing field of your sport. It provides guidance on how players should conduct themselves in society, in the classroom, at home, and around their peers. Lead’ Em Up is fun and packaged very well for any coach to conduct the sessions.


To get a FREE preview of our new online curriculum being released early this summer, click here!