Greatness Starts at Home

December 27, 2008

I watched greatness at work the other night. John Jenkins is a 6-4 senior guard at Station Camp High School in Gallatin, TN. He’s a four-star recruit and one of the top shooting guards in the country who’s already commited to Vanderbilt for next year.

He’s pure silk on the basketball court and scored 57 points in that one game. He’s averaging 44.5 points per game while shooting over 55 percent from the field. What impressed me the most was the day after scoring 57, his coach told me that John apologized to him for scoring that much. His whole aim was to make his teammates better. When I interviewed him he told me that he’d won enough personal awards already in the career. He was more interested in team goals.

I asked his coach where John got that attitude from and he told me it came from home. His parents had instilled in him a desire to learn in the classroom and excell on the basketball court. He was a self motivated, none egotistical young man whose head could be too big for any hat size, but that’s not what he’s made of or how he was raised.

Great coaching starts at home.


A Smile Tells You So Much

December 9, 2008

I was at the Tennessee state high school football championships this past week and saw something I’ve rarely seen in years of covering team sports.

In the Class 4A championship game, unbeaten Maryville was taking on Hillsboro High School from Nashville. Maryville came in having won 74 games in a row and four state championships in a row. They were heavily favored to be Hillsboro. ¬†Their coach is George Quarles, a quiet, caring, but competitive man who actually allowed our camera’s into his locker room before the game.

Quarles walked around the room hugging and shaking the hands of every one of his players. He didn’t give a rah rah speech. Instead, he just encouraged for each player individually.

I watched him on the sidelines throughout the game and he conducted himself the same way despite the fact that his team committed a number of uncharacteristic turnovers and wound up losing the game 10-7.

I was curious to see how he and his team would react to the loss, and to my amazement Quarles and his team didn’t hold their heads down even though I knew they were bitterly disappointed. ¬†They walked straight over to the Hillsboro players and I heard them say over and over, “good job or good game.”

Then at the trophy presentation Quarles led his team out with a smile on his face and offered thanks for the runner-up trophy which the players on his team lifted with enthusiasm. The runner-up trophy mind you. The 74-game winning streak was snapped, and yet they conducted themselves with class and dignity.

I can see why they’ve won so much and why they’ll win again. They’re coached by a man who “coaches for life” and lives what he preaches.