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Coaches find their voice âï¿½ï¿½ some a little loude
February 21, 2012Genoa-Kingston High School
Sometimes, longtime referees will chuckle when they see Corey Jenkins because he’s just like his father.
Terry Jenkins was a vocal, hard-nosed coach at Polo and Hiawatha High Schools throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and Corey is the same way.
At Genoa-Kingston’s game against Indian Creek 12 days ago, Jenkins was particularly vocal. His team scored just two points in the first seven minutes of the 52-41, turnover-laden loss, and spectators in the vicinity of the Indian Creek gym knew about Jenkins’ displeasure.
“Is he always like that?” a chuckling fan from Indian Creek asked me.
Jenkins responded to vocal coaches when he was a player, and that’s what he subscribes to as a coach, especially this year.
“We’ve tried both approaches with this team,” Jenkins said. “Sometimes we’ve been more laid back and just let them play. But we’ve found out that so far this season we’ve had more success when we’re energized ourselves.”
It takes a particular type of team and a particular type of coach to respond to a critical style. Jenkins thinks he has that team.
“We know which kids can kind of handle it and which kids you’ve kind of got to coddle a little bit,” Jenkins said.
Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz is the polar opposite.
Piekarz is laid back. He learned to be that way playing when he was an All-MAC pitcher at Northern Illinois under coach Ed Mathey.
“I try to be as positive as possible to get the most out of each of my players,” Piekarz said. “I feel like if players are scared to make a mistake in the game, that doesn’t maximize their performance. I don’t think yelling and screaming on the sideline is the best way to maximize each player’s performance.”
Just because coaches are different, though, doesn’t mean they dismiss each other’s philosophies.
Hinckley Big Rock girls basketball coach Greg Burks is by no means an intimidating coach. But Burks coached under Larry “Doc” Peppers, a legendary coach who started the H-BR girls program and coached it for 30 years.
“If there’s two more opposite guys in the world than me and him, I’d like to see who they are,” Burks said.
“He was a hard-nosed, old school coach. There was one way to do it, and it was the right way. Some players responded well, and others, mentally really struggled with that. I really enjoyed coaching with Doc for many years. I learned a lot from him.”
Coaches will tailor their style to the team that they have somewhat. But most kids, it seems, can respond to either type of coach.
Coaching philosophy seems to derive mostly from a coach’s personality and what they responded to as players.
For the Indian Creek players, it wouldn’t seem genuine if the mild-mannered Piekarz yelled at them day-in and day-out. If Jenkins wasn’t so vocal, he’d lose his fire, which is one of the valuable traits he picked up from his father.
There are plenty of successful coaches both ways, and both ends of the spectrum are successful for different reasons.
“There are positives and negatives for every style,” Piekarz said. “You just have to figure out what fits for you, and use that to the best of your ability. I’m sure for some of those coaches, that hard-nosed style works, and I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen mild-mannered styles work too.”
• Anthony Zilis is a sports reporter for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at email@example.com.