3-Layers to Coaching

In February of 1968, I was an 18 year-old in the thrones of senioritis and a member of a very average high school basketball team at Wilber-Clatonia High School.  Our coach was Don Zeiss.  He was a good coach that tried about anything that would coax a win out of a bunch of average athletes.

The most memorable ploy was a Saturday trip to Milford High School on a Saturday night.  We had been embarrassed by some team on Friday and Coach had to try something dramatic.  He walked into our locker room before we were to begin our warm-ups.  Coach Zeiss, with proper emphasis, told us we were un-coachable.  He told us if our goal was to drive him out of coaching, we had succeeded. Continue reading

Traveling with Sam

It’s Thanksgiving Week for my women’s basketball team.  That means on the road for a couple of games.  I’m definitely not complaining because I am on my way to Honolulu, Hawaii for the Oahu Classic.  We will play a team from the basketball-rich state of North Carolina and another from Michigan.  I think the Michigan team will enjoy Hawaii more than the young women from Tabaco Road.
I know what you must think, “How can that team fly to Hawaii with all the budget cuts?”  It was really pretty simple; the players are great people who wanted this trip and made sacrifices to ensure the travel.  Continue reading

If I Never Get Back

I am in a motel (hotel by Gentry Dietz’s definition), sitting on a bed that’s a little too hard.  It’s late morning and my son, Sam, is in the room with me.  He is watching re-runs of Storage Wars on A & E, a cable network.   He’s anxious to call his mom so she will record the new episode that airs at 9 pm tonight.  What 12-year old kid likes Storage Wars?  Maybe that’s a good time for father and son to bond.

There’s nothing significant about this room.  It’s a nice room and the pillows are great.  Michele, my wife, wouldn’t like it since the drapes allow in too much light and the fan isn’t loud enough.  Sleep for my wife would be short and restless.  I guess its good she stayed home.

Over 28 years of college basketball, I must have stayed in hundreds of motel/hotel rooms.  This is nicer than the rooms I reserved for my teams in the early days.  Smoking restrictions were less and the rooms tended to smell like a Lucky Strike cigarette factory.  I think the rooms are cleaner now and there seems to be competition for the best shower heads.  What makes this room special enough to write about? Continue reading

Is it Basketball Weather?

When November flips on the calendar, I usually find time to mess with the football and soccer coaches.  These poor souls walk off the practice field with red ears and noses, chapped cheeks, and a look like they had just been stranded at the Arctic Circle.  I remind them that in my sport, the temperature ranges from 69 to 73 degrees with a wind chill index of 69 to 73 degrees.  However, it’s all a disguise about my concern for the weather.  I know it’s time for basketball when I begin to take the seven-day forecast serious.

I always proclaim that you can judge the basketball season on the trees in Missouri.  When the last of the leaves are nestling to the ground, I know its game time.  When hay fever begins because the trees are budding, it’s time for March Madness.  The last time I checked, the leaves were ready for raking.  I just hope my basketball team is ready to roll. Continue reading

Great Expectations

My uncle, Gene Else, gave me invaluable advice about coaching.  He always said, “Great players make great coaches, but great coaches can’t make great players.”  The former Doane College men’s coach, my Uncle Gene also told me to go where I had a chance to win.  All of it is solid advice that I followed to the letter.

My first head coaching job was at Wilber-Clatonia High School, a small school in Southeast Nebraska.  The glory days in sports had not appeared at the high school for many years.  Clatonia had a state championship boys’ team in 1958.  Even my appearance on the scene as a 155 offensive tackle and a 5-10 post player that the coaches listed at 6-2 couldn’t provide much for winning in the mid 1960’s. Continue reading

The Secret Code

I grew up in a little farming community in southeast Nebraska.  My class in school had eight students through most of my elementary days.  Seven of those eight students were boys.  We were kind-of a scrawny bunch.  None of the seven males were ever going to play major college football or become professional wrestlers.  We had to bond together to avoid the bulling from the older boys.

Despite our lack of muscular power, I had a neat childhood with my buddies.  We had club houses, tree houses, secret basement rooms (now called man-caves), and a great network to avoid the bullies.  Once, we attempted to build a log cabin in Clatonia Crick (not Creek).  We weren’t great architects, but the walls were starting to take shape.  The older boys in Clatonia, my tiny hometown, got suspicious because we were never around during those warm, summer afternoons. Continue reading

The Bucket List

Each year, the sports information director gives each player a handout they must return to use in the women’s basketball media guide.  Somewhere in that handout are a several personal questions.  I think the idea is to get to know the players and how they think off the court.

Silly questions like their favorite color, their favorite television show, or what they want to be when they graduate are the most in-depth these questions get.  I thought I’d take a different approach to getting to know my players.  I asked them to tell me what the top item was on their bucket list. Continue reading

I Can’t Get It Out of My Mind

Most mornings, the same routine is followed by the Steinmeyer household.  I’m the first up and do nothing useful for at least an hour.  Oh, I think I’m accomplishing something while everyone sleeps, but that only happens when I’m desperate.  For instance, if I just couldn’t keep my eyes open to break down game film on an opponent, I put it off as long as possible, which means I’m up at 5 am in the morning.

I get Sam, my 12 year old son, out of bed, feed him breakfast, and hustle him off to school.  Just as he gets out at the front of the school, my routine is to repeat those famous lines Pat O’Brien used in the film, Knute Rockne, All American.  O’Brien played the great Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne.  As his team was in the locker room at halftime of a game with Army, which was ranked number one in the nation, he recalled a final meeting with his greatest player. Continue reading

Don’t blame the coach

The football team lost a great college football game to an MIAA opponent.  It was the first loss to an MIAA team in five years.  It takes a lot of luck to have a streak like that.  If we don’t run back a blocked extra point a couple of years ago against Washburn, this loss isn’t that significant.  What about the miracle field goal at Central last year?

It also took a lot of luck to beat the Bearcats.  Pitt State had to convert a third and 24 in the games first possession of the second half.  Their quarterback couldn’t hit green turf in the first half.  The same field goal kicker that provided the miracle at Warrensburg last year hit the crossbar this year.  It was Pitt State’s luck it bounced back instead of through. Continue reading

What’s in Label?

Labels in sports are a funny thing.  That’s especially true since Title IX kick started women’s athletics in American; or did Title IX kick start girls’ athletics?  That’s only the beginning of the confusion with labeling women’s (girls’) sports.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

Labels are confusing in just about anything we do, not just female sports.  Gentry Dietz, my former star post player and now graduate assistant, keeps telling me I label the Comfort Inn and the Holiday Inn Express incorrectly.  Continue reading