Jay Peters

Email – jpeters@cvcaroyals.org

Twitter – @CVCAathletics

Jay Peters recently stepped down after 17 seasons in charge of the boys basketball program at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in the state of Ohio. The 2019-20 season was his 22nd season serving as a head coach. He spent three seasons as a head coach at Strasburg High School and two seasons at Grove City High School and was also an assistant at Massillon High School before coming to CVCA for the 2003-04 season. Jay holds a career record of 329-190 and his CVCA teams combined to go 283-126 during the past 17 seasons. He led 6 teams to District Championships with five of those coming at CVCA. The Royals also won three Principals’ Athletic Conference titles and finished as District Runners-up up three times under his direction.

Jay was a standout player at Medina High School, Grove City College, and Kent State and played for Athletes in Action following his collegiate career.

This episode is packed with solid advice for coaches so make sure you’re prepared to take some notes as you listen to our conversation with Coach Jay Peters from Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in the state of Ohio.

What We Discuss with Jay Peters

  • Growing up a coach’s son
  • Dreaming of playing high school basketball for Medina growing up
  • Why players should enjoy their high school years
  • The emergence of the AAU culture and its impact on high school basketball
  • Playing at Ohio State’s St. John Arena in the state final four as a senior
  • The dumbest decision of his life – leaving Kent State his freshman year prior to the start of practice
  • Playing at Grove City for two years and then returning to Kent State to play for Jim McDonald
  • His experience playing with Athletes in Action
  • How being around his Dad’s teams always had him thinking about coaching
  • His first coaching job with 8th grade girls
  • Thinking you’re a good coach because you were a good player
  • Understanding what your players can and can’t do
  • The need for brutal honesty with players
  • Having ongoing conversations with players about their role and their skill set
  • Players not putting in time and still wanting results
  • Why being committed is a key to success

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Jay Peters Raw

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle, and tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast recently retired head coach from Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Jay Peters. Jay, welcome.

Jay Peters: [00:00:12] Hey, thanks. Great to be here.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:15] Absolutely. Full disclosure, Jay and I have known each other for a long time.

Fellow Kent state basketball player. Back in the day, we were just reminiscing before we jumped on here. How we played in a Cleveland state Pro-Am league and I was rummaging through some old stuff and found a team photo of when you and I were a lot younger back in, back in the day.

Jay Peters: [00:00:35]and a lot thinner.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:38] That’s right. No doubt. No doubt about that.

Jay Peters: [00:00:39] We played in those, Oh, I don’t think they do it anymore. The Ohio sports festival, they don’t do it anymore together too as well.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:48] Yeah, exactly,those were a lot of fun. Those were a lot of fun. Those were kind of a. It was almost, it was almost a young adult, AAU  type situation

Jay Peters: [00:00:56] Almost like a, like an Olympic thing [00:01:00] for like for Ohio. Yeah, it was. They was doing that. I don’t think they do it. I don’t hear much about it, but. Yeah. That was a blast. I enjoyed that was,

Mike Klinzing: [00:01:08] that was a great, that was a great time. It’s one of those things that now you look back on it, you’re like, man, we didn’t know what we had back in the day.

Jay Peters: [00:01:14] Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Klinzing: [00:01:17] It’s so true, isn’t it though, when you think about your playing days, and that’s a good place for us to start. Just go back to when you were a kid and talk a little bit about how you got into the game when you were younger. What made you fall in love with it? Just just give us a rundown of kind of your childhood introduction to basketball.

Jay Peters: [00:01:32] Yeah, that’s, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t,  around basketball. My dad was the head basketball coach at Medina high school when I was a kid.  they had moved to Medina,  the year that I was born. So in 1965, my dad, I think that was his first year, was either his first or second year there.

And,  so my earliest memories, obviously of being a kid is my brother. And I.  who was [00:02:00] older than I used three years older than I am, but we would come home from school and,  what is now Claggett middle school in,  in Medina that used to be the high school and it’s a,  it’s a block away from where I live.

So we would hit the house and,  we would run up to practice virtually every day. And so my, my, my childhood was,  wrapped around me going to a Medina high school basketball practices, Medina high school basketball games.  sitting around with my dad and my brother,  watching games, playing in our little crappy little patio backyard court that we had.

And,  I don’t remember. Like I say, I don’t remember anything else other than that. And it’s,  I used to think again, this is, you know, as a coach’s kid, I used to think I was like the luckiest kid on the planet and everybody wanted to be me. Cause they got the, I got to go to practice every day and hang around with the basketball players, the varsity players, and,  you know, they were always, [00:03:00] you know, messing around with us cause I was a little kid and,  you know, and all that business.

But,  you know, I still, I still have a picture of my favorite team of them,  hanging on my wall here in my basement.  you know, when I, when I got to be about seven years old, I really got into going to the games. I used to love to go to practice. I didn’t necessarily love going to the games, but I remember,

That year.  like I said, I was in second grade and,  my mom came, I didn’t go to the game, but my mom came home. Bay village was one of our big rivals. And,  I remember the next morning talking to my mom, I can still see her standing in the kitchen looking at me and shit, and just the look on her face as she looked over at me.

She said, we beat Bay last night. And,  and she said, we never do that. And I remember. Thinking as I was standing there in the kitchen, I’m missing something here, that there’s something going on that’s, that’s better than me sitting at home watching whatever TV instead of going to the games. And I knew all the guys, cause I’d been to, you know, practice all the time.

[00:04:00] And,  I remember I just started going, I was hooked because it was, it was one of those phenomenal years for Medina.  And, and, you know, old if you’ve ever been in, you know what’s again, what’s Claggett middle school? It’s a, it’s, you know, it’s a regular size high school gym for the, you know, the 1950s and sixties and seventies.

But it was,  Medina just had great support at that time. You know, Medina was kind of a small community and,  it was, it was a lot, very rural at the time. And so people on Friday nights went to basketball games and the gym was absolutely packed. And. You know, I remember sitting on the floor and getting squeezed out and you couldn’t find a seat.

And,  again, just I remember that year,  I think my dad told me that it was either a three or a four way tie for the championship. And,  so every game we went to was, was just a barn burner. And again, like I say,  I was hooked. I that, the excitement of [00:05:00] that and,  just the, the, you know, the electricity, you’d walk into the gym and the smell of the gym.

People going nuts and all the crazy cheers. And,  just watching guys that I knew that, you know, I thought were, you know, grown men, which is hilarious when you’re coaching later on and you look back and you think of these 16, 17 year old kids or, you know, back in the day, I thought, these guys are man, you know, but I, you know, and so, like I say that I, from my earliest,  memories are, are, are that just going to.

 going to the gym every day with my dad and just,  and my brother and hanging out and, you know, shooting hoops on the sides and getting yelled at. Cause we were dribbling when my dad was trying to teach. And,  you know, we thought we owned the school. My brother and I, and,  and my, my dad’s assistant, Tom Robinson, had two sons that were, one was a year older than me and what the other one was a year older than my brother.

And so, you know, we would run all over the school.  you know, the janitors all knew us and. You know, they were all grumpy old man [00:06:00] and they get out of here, you know, and that kind of thing. But that didn’t stop us from going out and playing Dodge ball in the hallway. And.  but, you know, we thought the school was ours and,  just be, and that’s, so that’s, you know, if you’re looking at the, the, the, the, the beginning of that, it was just, it was, I just remember that, that we beat PE.

And I remember, I, I gotta go, I gotta find out what this is all about.

Mike Klinzing: [00:06:21] Well, I think what is, I don’t know about unique and your story, but I think it’s something that is maybe not as prevalent today, and that is just. Kids from, especially that real young age. You’re talking about second grade and your situation was a little bit different cause your dad’s the coach.

But I think that kids today just don’t, they don’t have that same connection, especially not at a young age too. No. Again, we’re talking about here a public school situation where kids grow up in a community and they grow up and they, they dream of becoming, you know, in that case, someone dying of B at some point when they get to, when they get to high school.

And not that it’s completely been eliminated, but I just don’t think [00:07:00] it’s as strong as it was for people who grew up in the era that you and I grew up in. I remember, again, being in elementary school and I moved to Strongsville when I was in second grade. And I remember going to games at that point with my dad.

And you know, I re, I remember those early players, their names, those teams. I remember those guys. More than just about anything in my entire life because I went to so many games just like you. I looked up to them and I always tell people that one of the coolest things that I always remember is the teams running out of the huddle and the fight songs playing, and they’re coming out and they run up to the shoot a lay up and they slapped the backboard.

And I remember thinking that was like, that was the greatest thing that anybody. Could ever do. And of course I could never jump, even when I was a  [00:07:52] college athlete. So, you know, thinking back on that time, like, man, if I can ever do that, that will be the greatest accomplishment of my life. To be able to run out on the [00:08:00] floor as a Mustang and slap the backboard during layup lines.

And you just thought that those guys were, you know, incredible. And I don’t, I don’t, I don’t know that that exists. In the same way, and I’m sure that our communities across the country and in Ohio and in the Cleveland area, even where that does exist to some degree, but I just don’t think it’s as prevalent as it was when you and I were kids.

Jay Peters: [00:08:20] I think you’re right. I think,  I think the focus of communities has really changed.  I think, I think a lot of part, the,  the focal point,  especially for smaller towns,  like a Medina or a Strongsville or, you know, again, Cloverleaf and, and in schools or communities like that. I think the focal point, a lot of in large part was the school and, you know, your kids were involved and your neighbors kids were involved.

And so,  you know, and I know, I want to say a lot of people didn’t have a lot of extra money to go.  I,  to go do a bunch of extra things. So what did you do? You went and you went to the, you went to the sporting events. I remember [00:09:00] going to Medina football games and thinking, you know, like, I was at Ohio state and you know, now you go back and you look at that old stadium and you think, man, that’s pretty small.

But as a kid, he thought it was huge and it was always packed and everybody, and you just thought that’s what people did. And I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I think there’s,  you know, there’s a lot of different distractions and I think there’s a lot of different things that people.  people don’t have the mindset, Hey, let’s go watch the, you know, the basketball team play, or the baseball or the football team.

You have your loyal followers. But I, I, I’ve seen that change just in the, in the, in the years that I’ve been coaching, not just,  and then looking back at growing up, there’s just a different feel for that. And that’s, and that’s, I guess it’s just different, but for sports fans, you know, ended. People who coach and who loves sports.

You look back and you think there’s, there’s a certain, there’s a sobering sadness to that too. Cause that was like you’re saying like that for you, the, the,  and for me and for people who grew up watching basketball like that, and I’m the same way, I couldn’t wait to [00:10:00] get,  to Medina high school to play.

Right. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get to junior high just so I could play for Medina. Cause that meant so much to me.  and, you know, and, and that’s what you look forward to. I think, again,  there’s other things that the kids get involved in, you know, whether it’s the AAU culture now that that has changed,  in a sense of the focal point of what, what the important season is.

 and it’s not necessarily playing for your community school or the school that you, you know, that you go to.

Mike Klinzing: [00:10:31] Do you think, just in your opinion over the course of the time when you’ve been coaching, do you think there has become more of a focus on the individual and then to go along with that? Do you think there’s more of a focus on.

What’s next as opposed to what’s right in front of a kid. So just as an example, if I’m a kid who’s playing middle school basketball, I’m not necessarily thinking about my middle school season. I’m thinking about what’s my next step for high school, where am I going to go? And then [00:11:00] when I’m in high school, I’m thinking about, well, when am I going to get to the varsity team?

And then I’m on the varsity team and I’m thinking about, well, what am I going to do when I get to college? How am I going to get a chance to play college basketball? Do you see a shift. And sort of that mentality like we’re talking about where it was about, I want to play for my team. And now you see where the more natural tendency for kids and parents is that they’re, they’re playing more for themselves and what’s next?

I seem to think that that’s more prevalent. Maybe it’s just the social media era and you see more people talking about things that are related to themselves as individuals. But I’m just interested to get your perspective as a long time head coach. Having seen it over the course of many years.

Jay Peters: [00:11:42] Yeah. I think absolutely.

I think the biggest change I’ve seen,  from childhood to, you know, play in high school to play in college,  and then coaching for, you know, 29 years that, that,  the idea that this [00:12:00] is a, this is a springboard for me to go,  play college basketball or something. And,  Yeah. This is not going to happen for most kids.

And, and, and you can, you can tell people that and you can, you can give them the statistics and,  everybody is, thinks, thinks you’re talking to the kid next to him, and it’s just not going to happen. I mean, I had some really good players here at CBCA and I’ve had a handful of kids that were fortunate enough to go to go play college basketball at various levels.

But,  I think that, I think the shift has been that, that parents and kids think that. You know, high school basketball sent me do in the winter.  but the bigger deal is what you’re going to do with AAU. Cause that’s where you’re going to get seen or something like that. And you know, you’re going to get seen playing in some AAU tournament somewhere in Cleveland or Columbus.

And then all of a sudden Roy Williams is going to be banging on your door. You know, cause you scored a layup, you know, or you touch the backboard on a layup and you know, in warmups. And.  and so I think that’s a, [00:13:00] there is a big shift in that. And it, you know, I try to talk my kids in CBCA and I would actually communicate this with my parents all the time.

But you know, this is it. Here are the four for 99% of you let, let, let’s enjoy, we have a say in our house. Enjoy every sandwich. It’s a warranty. Yvonne.  he’d said it in an interview, you know, and so we talked about enjoying this sandwich cause this is the sandwich you got right now. And this is, you know, we don’t know what.

You know, we don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring in terms of, you know, playing days and you might get a chance to play college basketball. Great. And if you want to, you know, I’ll help you get there. I’ll help you try to improve and do this, that, and the other for you.  but at the same time, this is the moment in, in that you’re never going to get a chance to do again.

You’re never going to get to play high school basketball with your high school teammates, which typically,  even, you know, I got to play a lot of basketball after high school. And,  but I never had more fun than playing with.  the guys I grew up with, you [00:14:00] know, I did a group of senior guys that we were really close and just had a great time playing together, and I had some great college teammates and teammates after that with, you know, athletes and action and stuff.

But I never had more fun just because we. What the heck. We, we’d gone to grade school together. We played junior high together. We suffered through freshmen basketball and JV basketball to get to varsity basketball. And that journey of that was just, you know, playing together all the time in the summer,  and, you know, traveling around together and,  meeting at the park every night.

That’s, you know, that, that’s the part that you miss when all you’re thinking about, Hey, you know, I gotta be ready for my age. What are you team? I’m not going to play on this year so I can get seen so I could get.  but I think that’s, I, you know, I hate to see that. But again, that’s just the change in culture.

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:47] it’s definitely the way that things have trended, certainly different from when you and I were growing up where. Even if there was a you, I told this story before, but you know, when I played the summer team, my [00:15:00] dad organized it and I was the GM. My dad was the coach and really there, there was only, and there was only two.

There was really only two, I don’t even know if you call them AAU teams, but there was our team that was kind of like the West side group, and then there was a team of kids from, from. In, you know, from Cleveland and then from the East side. And that was it. I mean, there really wasn’t, there really wasn’t anything else where, you know, you had to be one of the better players in the area to be able to play on those teams.

And now of course, we know it’s been opened up and everybody’s playing, and

Jay Peters: [00:15:31] obviously you can play,

Mike Klinzing: [00:15:32] there’s no doubt about that. And there’s. You know, again, that’s not to say that the system today is, you know, far worse. It’s, it’s clearly different. And I think we’re always nostalgic for the way that we grew up in the game.

And I know you and I talked when we connected down at Wooster about just the, the lack of, again, playground basketball and how it’s disappeared and how important those moments were in your life and in mind in terms of just what you talked about a [00:16:00] second ago. Just enjoying the moment. I mean, I think about the number of moments that I enjoyed.

Playing on the playground and just pick up basketball. And for so many kids today, that doesn’t exist. And it’s been replaced by a new, for better or for worse. And again, you can make arguments for and against that system. And, you know, the reality is, is that’s the system that’s here now. And,  you know, so everybody coaches on all sides of that high school coaches, college coaches.

You coaches, everybody has to figure out how to best navigate that system along with the players and the parents and all that. So, but it’s definitely a, it’s definitely a different time and it’s a challenge, I’m sure for you as a high school coach, and it’s a challenge for, it’s a challenge for parents and kids to know how to navigate that too, because you just don’t know for sure. What  you’re doing in a lot of cases. And so you just try to help as a coach, you try to help kids make the right decisions and, and figure things out. So let’s move back just for a second to Medina. So you finally get to Medina high school. Talk about some of [00:17:00] the, the highlights, maybe pick out a thing or two that you remember from your high school career.

What are your most vivid memories? What’s something that is always going to stick with you?

Jay Peters: [00:17:08] Yeah. Again, obviously other than playing with, with my. The seniors that I played with, we had seven seniors on our team. Junior class wasn’t very good behind us, but,  and we had, we had suffered through a miserable junior year.

We were absolutely horrible.  we as,  as sophomores with the. The group that was two years in front of us,  had had one 18 straight won the league title, got to the district finals and got beat by Lorraine Southview. And we got to practice with them every day and just get mauled. Cause, you know, we just weren’t ready.

And then, like I said, the senior class in front of us when we were juniors, they all quit. And,  and so we were kind of thrown into the wolves. We, we were, we had a bunch of guys who were like myself, who were sort of late bloomers.  like I didn’t really start physically maturing really til I was a sophomore in high school.

I grew a foot in high school. [00:18:00] I was five, six as a freshmen, and six, six, when I finally graduated.  yeah, so it was, it was a freakish time. And I, you know, I could barely run and dribble.  and I’m a starting guard for us as a, as a junior.  we have game film, we laugh, we’ll never let anybody see it cause we were so bad.

But anyway, so we go with, we suffer through that year and it was miserable. I mean, we, we actually came in third in the league too, which kind of spoke how bad our league was that year. But.  but we came back our senior year and like everybody, like our, our growth at all kind of caught up with us and we had a great summer,  playing together.

It was like the first or second year that you could, like, you went to century cage camp and you could play together.  as a team, like the rules that used to be Ohio rules, that you can only play two guys on a team at a time. And,  which was, you know, so you go to summer camp and you, and one of your teammates and beyond, they’re playing against your teammates, you know, on another team.

And it was kind of stupid. So they changed that rule.  my junior year and then my, going into my senior year, we did that employment down at [00:19:00] century cage camp and really played well. And so we were thinking, Hey, we could be okay here. And,  had a really good senior year. We ended up going 23 and four.

And,  you know, the, the, the culminating thing was, is that,  we, we got an a run at the end of the year and we’re just playing outrageously good. And,   one, one of the first district for a boys team in school history. And then upset two teams in the, in the regional,  semis and the regional finals to get to the state final four.

 and I will proudly say that we are the last Medina County boys team to get to the, to get to the final four. That was 1983, so that’s been a long time, but that was, you know, again, we still talk about that. We, we just,  my, the guys that I played with,  I’m going to brag them out a little bit here. We got together about five years ago, four or five years ago, and decided that we were going to.

 get together and create a scholarship for,  kids back.  you know, somebody back at Medina.  and so we kick in a bunch of money every [00:20:00] year. And, you know, we just got done reading all the applicants and voting on that and that kind of stuff. Cause we just wanted to, in a sense, like get back to what Medina had done for us, but let that man, that was, you know, you dream about getting to the final four and,  you know, getting down to Columbus and playing in st John’s arena and we got to do that together.

And that was. You know, again, that was a culmination of years and years and years of playing together at the park and going through junior high and high school and our junior year. And,  that was just a wild ride. And,  just a phenomenal time for us. What do you

Mike Klinzing: [00:20:32] remember about stepping into st John’s?

I still think it’s. So sad that I know that the shot and Steen or whatever it’s called, value city arena, whatever it’s called now, is, you know, far I guess has all the modern amenities. But to me, the state finals, and just when I think of, you know, the Ohio state final four, I still think of st John arena without question.

That’s what comes into my head

Jay Peters: [00:20:55] first. Yeah. Well, I think the, I think I’m writing this, and I think, but [00:21:00] next year or the year after that, they’re moving it back to st John’s. So, which I think is great, cause the same thing. I think the atmosphere of st John’s is, is, is so much better. It’s, it’s so much louder.

 but I remember, yeah, because again, as a kid, my dad would take us down to the state tournament and,  you know, my brother and I would get to go the whole weekend and watch every game. And again, of course, at that time they were only. Three classes, AAA, AA and single lane. Medina was the big school. We were a small, big school.

But,  I do remember walking in there and then walking out. And I think, I think I still have like the,  somewhere in some, you know, box somewhere. I’ve got the,   final box score or whatever you call it, a stat sheet. And I think it said that there were 13,000, 595 fans in attendance and,  the place, you know, st John’s just used to rock when you’d get a bunch of people in it and everybody’s right down on top of you.

I think that’s the thing. The shop doesn’t have that. People are so shut out away from it and you, and you can’t get it loud enough [00:22:00] cause you can never get enough people in there. But.   but just walking out there certainly as every kid would say, and every kid who got to do it, and if my teammates were sitting here with me, the dream come true to get the walkout on a st John’s and the state final four and, and play in front of that many people.

Mike Klinzing: [00:22:16] Absolutely. So. As you are finishing up and wrap it up your high school career, at what point do you start to, at what point does it become a realization that a want to play college basketball be that it may be a realistic possibility for you? Just talk a little bit about your transition to going from high school basketball at the college basketball.

Jay Peters: [00:22:37] Yeah. My, my, my senior year,  I started thinking I, I can play college basketball somewhere.  You know? And like I say, I had a, I had a really good senior year.  and, but at the same time, I wasn’t,  you know, it’s my junior year, I stunk. I mean, I, I’m, like I say, I was just bad, you know, I, I, [00:23:00] you know,  so I wasn’t like, I was thinking, wow, you know.

I got a chance to go play, you know, you know, up somewhere cause I was thinking, I just want to get there somewhere. And  you know, it wasn’t real confident in myself,  away from the court when and, and I mean away from the court, like in the locker room before a game or, but once I stepped on the court,  I, I just,  all of a sudden I was, I believed in myself, but then game would be over.

I’d walk out. It’d be done. And then the time before the next game of, same thing, I was always fighting these ideas of doubt because up to that point, like I say, I’d been pretty bad. And,  but I kept thinking, okay, I’m having a good senior year. I can play somewhere. My brother was playing at Grove city college.

 my dad was good friends with the coach, so I was kinda thinking I’d been accepted there. So I was kinda thinking that’s where I was going to go. And then, like I say, my senior year just kept getting better and better [00:24:00] and better.  I just, I just kept getting more confident and more confident and,  and the run we had,  and I, you know, I’m not gonna lie.

I had a great run in the tournament.  especially we played in the regionals at Kent state and had,  two really good games over there. And,  and so that kinda started,  I had not been recruited,  to be honest with you, up until that point, man, I was in my mind, I was just going to Grove city college to play with my brother.

And then all of a sudden I have this great tournament over at Kent state university. And,  and then,  it’s like every day somebody was stopping by school. My dad was my guidance counselor, so he would get me out of class and bring me down and be some coach sitting there wanting to talk to me about basketball.

And I would, you know, and again, I, I’ll be honest with you, I was like,   there was, it was a confusing time for me because I went from being this, you know, no name kid that nobody. I’d ever thought about. And,  now all of a sudden I got coaches coming in and, you know, [00:25:00] never met me before and they’re offering me a full scholarship to go somewhere.

And,  you know, I was,  I was,  I was kind of like,  in shock of all that,  as it was happening. But fortunately, my dad was, you know, like I say, my dad was my guidance counselor and, you know, aside from that, for being my dad and was, you know, pretty experienced guy and knew what was going on. So.

Well, we did a lot of talking through things as we went.  went through that very, very quick process at that particular point.

Mike Klinzing: [00:25:28] So what are those conversations like with your dad? What did, what were the kinds of things that he was trying to get you to understand or to see or to help you to make a good decision?

What was, what were those conversations like? From what you can remember.

Jay Peters: [00:25:38] Yeah, great question. I, I remember, and I probably stole most of this when I talked to my own kids, that,  trying to talk through the college basketball was, was going to be a,  was, was, was a vehicle, you know, to, to get somewhere else.

You know, you’re not going to play professionally. You’re not going to, you know, and even if you did, you’re not going to play [00:26:00] very long, you know?  and,  so you gotta have something after that that you’re, so, it was a, it was a means for you to, you know, to go play. Have a great time playing college basketball for a brief period of time.

But it’s a, it’s a means to get into a school and you got to find a school that you’re going to fit into.  you know, socially,  from a faith standpoint, from an athletic standpoint, from playing for a coach and a program.  and you know, what kind of city you want to go. So as we started talking through those, again, every kid I’ve had played for me that wants to play college basketball, I’d probably have the same conversation with them in terms of.

You know, Hey, what are you, what are you, what are you looking for in the school? Cause basketball is going to be a part of it, but it’s not going to be the whole thing. And,  I just remember sitting down and talking to him and he obviously went to a bunch of, you know, recruiting visits with me. And as we sat there and we would talk on the way back and forth, you know, can, what do you think of the coach?

You know, we would both ask that question. I’d ask him, cause he knew more than I did about coaches and he knew a lot of people that he could talk to and he would give his [00:27:00] opinion on what he thought of the coach. And. Would I fit into that program and do I want to go to school there? And you know, do you want a big school, big city school or do you want to, you know, I, when I went to Kent state, I loved Kent state, the aspect of it then it’s a, that it’s a big school, but it’s also got, you know, big spread out campus.

But it’s also got like a small town feel cause Ken’s small town,  whereas other schools, you know, Akron and Cleveland state, for me personally, I wouldn’t have liked those because they were smack dab in the middle of the city. And I don’t like the big city. I like big grassy areas and stuff like that.

So that would be conversations that we’ve been having all around, because it’s, again, basketball is going to be a part of your life and in college if you’re, if you’re lucky enough to play, but it’s not the whole thing, and you’ve got a lot of time and,  and other areas that you’ve gotta be able to say, this is where I want to be and this is, you know, this is where I want to get my education so I can move on and go after them.

Mike Klinzing: [00:27:55] All right. So talk about ultimately the decision that you made, how you came to it, and then talk a [00:28:00] little bit about, just same thing as I asked you for your high school career. Give me a highlight or two from, from your college playing days.

Jay Peters: [00:28:08]  ultimately the decision it was, it was really kind of a, it was really hard for me to be honest with you.

And, and, and.  go back to that point. Like I didn’t think I was very good, even though I thought I was good at it. That doesn’t, now that sounds like I’m like drunk on the other end of this year, but like I had one hand,

Mike Klinzing: [00:28:28] I thought today your dad would’ve hired a sports psychologist for you.

Jay Peters: [00:28:33] He would have absolutely.

From the time I was like five, because I had trouble when I was five with, with other issues. But yeah, so like on the one hand I thought, Hey, I’m, I can compete with these people. I mean, I just showed that I could here and. But on the other hand, you know, I had 18 years of history behind me where I had glimpses of this, that, and the other that I was, you know, decent player.

But like I said, my, you know, other than my senior year, my high school days were pretty [00:29:00] lean, just cause I was so uncoordinated and so weak and so small.  so that I really wrestled with that. And I,  the conversation I kept having with my dad was eventually I was going to choose to go to Kent state.

 And,  I just kept asking him, do you think I can play there? Because I didn’t want to go somewhere where I, where I couldn’t play. And,  cause again, it’s a, you know, it’s a, it’s a brief period of time. And,  he kept saying it’s going to take a lot of work, but yes, you can play there, you know? And I just remember it came down to that day and I woke up that morning and I thought, okay.

I’m gonna throw the dice here and I’m gonna go to Kent state and,  and,  and try to play there. And,  again, when I, when I went, it was,  if you really, I don’t want to get into great deal on us, but I did make the dumbest decision of my life as a freshman there.  no, it’s,  [00:30:00] I, I left Kent state,

Before the first day of practice went through all the preseason stuff. And as you know, coach McDonald’s preseason stuff was,  was not enjoyable. And, you know, I went all [00:30:11] through the one part that’s not the most fun part of the season. I would, let’s just put it that way. So, you know, I did all that, all the running, and I was a horrible runner, so I was, I did a lot of running at seven o’clock in the morning trying to make my two mile time and did all the agility stuff and the weightlifting.

And,  And,  I did all that and,  just an immature,  dumb kid. And I just didn’t, I had in my mind that I’m not, you know, I convinced myself I’m a good self talker.  maybe I should say I’m a bad self Docker, but I convinced myself that I was not good enough to play there.  and I, granted, I, I, I did say I was six, six, but you gotta you gotta understand.

I was, when I graduated high school, I was six, six, 175 pounds. So. I was, I was, I had the body of a BIC pen. And,  and so, [00:31:00] you know, you go to Kent D one school and you’re playing with guys who were, you know, 20, 21, sometimes 22 years old,  and just getting the crap beat out of you. And,  and I was not prepared, you know, socially or academically really.

I was a screw off kind of in high school.  academically, I, you know, I got by, cause, you know, it’s high school for criminal law, you need to do your work and that kind of stuff and you get good enough grades to get by. But I did not develop. Study habits. And then all of a sudden, independently, you’ve got to decide to study for yourself.

So,  and socially I was very shy. I had,  I was not ready for what Kent state, the, the, the atmosphere of, you know, little, little Medina that I grew up in in Kent state were on two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of,   the society that was there. And anyway, so I left Kent and went to Grove city where my brother was, cause I thought that’s where I could play.

 and I remember walking out of coach MacDonald’s office,  the day that I told him I was going to leave. And I remember shutting the door and walking out and getting in my car to drive [00:32:00] home and thinking, this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. And it did turn out to be the dumbest thing I ever did.

So,  spent two years of Grove city. Long story short, coach McDonald miraculously,  gave me a chance to come back and play. And,  I got to play for one year at Kent and,  I had had a very good year for me and,  it was,   very, very appreciative. I’ve told him this,  probably 50 times or more, how much I appreciated him allowing me to come back.

You know, here’s a kid that walked out on you. I had a full scholarship and like an idiot, like I say, walked out and,  coach McDonald. I went back and talked to him.  had a meeting set up by mr. Tool tool’s dad. And he just said, Hey, I said I wanted to walk on. And he said, how about if I order for your scholarship?

And I was like, dumbfounded. I told him I’d call him the next day anyway, and,  but again, highlight. So that,  we made it to the finals of the Mac tournament. Got to play against Dan [00:33:00] Marley, who had a great career in the,  in the NBA.  grant long was a junior. They were both juniors that year and just got to play against them.

But it was the. For me, it was,  the fulfillment of,   questioning or answering all the doubts that I’d had about myself when I went in. All those things I talked about with my dad. Can I play there and then go on and not believe him that I could not been able to look past the tip of my nose and saying, wow, you’re, you’re, you’re a freshman again and you’ve got to go through and you gotta pay your dues.

And. You gotta work hard and you’re gonna get beat up, and then somewhere along the line you’re going to be able to play. And I didn’t do that, which obviously regretted, but it was when I got to that point and I got that chance to play. And,  very, very satisfying for me,   to be able to walk off the court and say, I made it.

I could do it.  and my dad was right. That was good enough to play there.

Mike Klinzing: [00:33:57] I think there’s probably. [00:34:00] You could probably count on one hand, maybe even less than one hand, the number of people who have had a similar experience to you in terms of going to a school, leaving, being gone for a couple years, and then having the opportunity to come back to that same school underneath the same coach.

And play. I can’t imagine there’s too many people out there with

Jay Peters: [00:34:22] that,

Mike Klinzing: [00:34:23] with that story. It really is a, it really is an incredible story, and I think it, it speaks to, and I’ve always said the same thing about coach methodical. I feel indebted to him because I was a kid who was. I don’t know, I want to say under recruited, but I just wasn’t, I don’t think many people thought that I could necessarily play at that level.

 and he was a guy who took an opportunity,  you know, took a chance on me. He gave me an opportunity and fortunately I was able to take advantage of that opportunity. I guess I was almost, I would say the opposite of you coming out of high [00:35:00] school and that I really believe that. I could play at that level.

And I was having a hard time with people telling me that I could, you know, I looked around at guys that I kind of grew up playing with and against, and I’d see all this guys sign in here and that kid sign in there and why is this kid going here? And I’m better than him. And you know, I’ve played against him and I know, I know I can.

I know I can outplay him. And I just kept waiting and waiting and waiting. And you know, again, I just, I feel like I ended up in the right spot. With the right coach was somebody who appreciated the things that I was able to bring to the table. And I’m forever indebted to that opportunity because I think there’s, there’s probably places where I could have gone where the things that I did well might not have been as appreciated as they were, you know, in Ken’s program.

And so,  you know, I, I’m thankful every single day that, you know, that I got an opportunity to play there. And. And have a good career and get a good education and make good friends. And, you know, there’s, there’s so many people, not just from the [00:36:00] years that I played with, but you know, I think about you or I think about people that have played there before or just guys that,  you know, guys that I’m still in touch with it.

It becomes, it becomes a fraternity, becomes a family. It becomes people that you don’t necessarily have to. Talk to them even every couple of months. You can see them once every five years and you still have, you still have this connection, and I think there’s, there’s something to be said for that. That’s, that’s really special.

All right, let’s move from playing. Oh, well, I guess we could talk a little bit about, talk about your days with athletes and action. Tell people a little bit about that, because I know that’s a big part of,  you know, of what you were doing after you graduated.

Jay Peters: [00:36:35] Yeah, that was a, that was a, it was a gift from God, to be honest with you.

 because again, I, I had lost some eligibility in my two transfers.  there was a screw up. Somebody didn’t read the, whatever, the fine print of.  so I. W I, they were thinking I had two years to play at Kent when I went back. And that ended up not being the case. So I, you know, I had lost,  some years playing.

So,  the, [00:37:00] the, the athletes and action thing for those who were not people not familiar is the athletic ministry of campus crusade for Christ. And at the time,  back in the eighties, seventies, and eighties, they used to do this,  the fall tour where they would travel around all over the United States and globally and, and play some of the best teams.

 in the nation,  in exhibition games before the season. And,  that’s sort of just kind of fell into my lap. I, again, I say it’s a God thing because I, I,  build tool, teammate of mine was actually going to Poland,  in the summer of 89 on a team,  that, you know, did a summer tour with them. And they had a couple,  about a month before the trip, they had a couple kids, big kids,  drop out.

And I can’t remember why. I don’t know if they got contracts or something somewhere. And so.  Kurt, we are Heim who was running the team calls bill and says, Hey, do you know anybody? You know, and bill gave him my name and Kurt were Haim actually knew my brother because my brother had gone an AIA trip to the Philippines back in [00:38:00] 82.

So Kurt called me and said, Hey, do you want to go? And I said, well, give me a day or two to think cause he had to raise your money to go. And I can’t remember how much you had to raise back in the day. I mean, this is 1989, but no, Kurt says you want to go? And I said, well, call me back tomorrow. And so I talked to my wife and.

If you just let go, you know. So,  I went to Poland for Poland in Greece for 10 days. We get to play against the Polish national team,  in a bunch of Greek professional teams and came home and,  was going back to school to get my teaching certificate.  cause I had,  I’d still had time, I still had some classes again, because of the transfer that I needed to get for credits and that kind of stuff.

And.  so sort of doing that. And then,  again, the next year,  Neil minimun, who was the,   like the team disciple or the guy that ran all the Bible studies and the team calls me and says, Hey, why don’t you come down? We’re playing hoops this weekend. So I went down to Cincinnati thinking I am just going down to play some hoops with some friends and,  some old guys.

And,  Lorenzo Romar, who is currently the coach at Pepperdine, he was [00:39:00] at Washington university of Washington for a while. I was an assistant at UCLA. He. He was the player coach at the time. So we’re playing and,  have a great time. It was good. We played once, you know, but two and a half hours in the morning, came back in the night and played two and a half hours.

And we went to Lorenzo’s house and he said, Hey, he says, I want you to play in the fall team. And,  I didn’t know what that meant. You know, I mean, I’d heard of athletes in action, but,  but he, but he’s, you know, so I said, well, you know, I said, I gave my usual answer, let me call you tomorrow. And,  so my wife and I are driving home and.

 my wife knew. I mean, we graduated together, so, and grew up together in a sort of, you know, going to the same school, but she knew my love of basketball. And, and as we’re driving home, I just, you know, she said, well, what do you wanna do? And I said, well, what do you think? And you know, she just went on to probably a half hour discussion about how I needed to do it.

And so I called Lorenzo that night when we got home and he said, I thought you were going to call me tomorrow. And I said, well, we figured it out on the way home. So that ended up being, I ended up playing with [00:40:00] them for two years. And I say again, a great gift from God because again, that the years I lost an eligibility.

 in a sense I got back cause I got to play with AIA and,  just amazing schedule. You know, we were probably playing and we probably played 40 games from November through to the end of December.  sometimes there would be, like one year we went to,  Mexico for,  you know,  two tournaments in Mexico city and Guadalajara.

We went to the Netherlands for a tournament over there, but I got to play and you know, I was a big UCLA fan growing up,  bill Waltman, those guys. And, and I got to play in Pauley pavilion, Ohio state, Indiana against Bob Knight and Calvert Cheney and Illinois. Yeah, I played against the Campion Mutombo and Alonzo mourning.

 and when they were at Georgetown, and you know, you name it, I probably played there. And,  again to, to go from the kid that, that left Kent state thinking he couldn’t [00:41:00] play there and then go get to play at athletes in action and compete against guys at that level was,  get to do that for two years was, was, was absolutely phenomenal.

And really,  again, we talk about sports and.  satisfying. It was, it was one of those things when I was done playing with those, I had like, it was, it was like, yes, you’ve, you’ve really proved to yourself that you could step on the court with, you know,  guys that, that major college division, but, you know, one, and yeah, granted, I was older.

I was, that was. Yeah. You know, it wasn’t a, you know, an 18 year old kid, but it didn’t matter. I mean, it was, you know, I played Jamal Mashburn. I’m just thinking through the names I put in. The guys I played against that were,  you know, that Kentucky team that got beat by a Duke on that last second shot.

 we played them early in the year.  and just, it was just, it was phenomenal, you know?  and, and the people I got to meet. My teammates with athletes in action, I still in touch with them. I’ve done quite a bit of stuff with AIA,  as a, as, as a [00:42:00] coach since then.  and got to have some amazing travel opportunities,   as a result of that.

So that was the, you talk about,  two great years for me.  you know, culminating after,  you know, my debacle of college basketball, that,  man, I am very, very thankful for, for that opportunity to get to, again, to get to satisfy that. That part of basketball and to move on in your life, to not have to keep constantly thinking, man, I blew it in college and  cause I gotta get that chance.

And it was, it was awesome. I got admit.

Mike Klinzing: [00:42:32] Yeah. To be,  to do that when you’re young, to have the opportunity to travel and then to play at that high level against that type of competition in those players. I’m sure it was just, you know, a special time. And then you throw the Christianity part of it on top of that.

And, and I’m sure that it just the, you think about the impact that that had on you in the moment, but then I’m sure that the impact of that that you’re continuing to carry with you.

Jay Peters: [00:42:56] Yeah.

Mike Klinzing: [00:42:57] Even now, I’m sure it’s just, again, you probably can’t even put it into [00:43:00] words, but let’s try it.

Jay Peters: [00:43:02] You know, and I’ll say this, I’m so thankful for my wife because my, you know, at the time we were newly married when I left, I left to go to Poland on her, on her first wedding anniversary.

And, and to get, come back from that and then to go, and for her to be the one to say, Hey, you need to go do this. You need to, you need to go play.  I’m not sure a lot of wives would, would say that, cause we spent a lot of time away from each other while I’m traveling. I mean, I. Athletes in action, we would get up in the morning, get on a plane, fly into a city, get to a hotel, rest a little bit, go shoot around, play, and do the same thing, you know, six days a week.

 so there were a lot of times where I was,  where I was away from her and away from home, and that was hard.  but for her to have that understanding and to say, and for her to understand me and to say, you need to go do this and fully support that was again, pretty funny. She’s. Obviously phenomenal woman for a lot more reasons than that, but yeah.

Mike Klinzing: [00:43:55] Understood. Yeah, you gotta have a good wife if you’re going to be a coach, there’s no question about that. And in that case, if you’re going to be a [00:44:00] player, and it doesn’t sound like you were load managing at the time, Nope.

Jay Peters: [00:44:07] Six days,

Mike Klinzing: [00:44:08] six days a week, flying in and out, you weren’t. You were, you weren’t, you weren’t resting.

Like, Kawhi Leonard, let’s put it that way.

Jay Peters: [00:44:14] No, it again, it was you get used to it. It was, it was know. There wasn’t much else going on. We, you know, Bible study quite a bit of those, which were, which were great, you know what I mean? You look forward to those and get in, shoot around, and he played some great arenas and then again, you get to play a game and then, you know, you go do it the next day.

I mean, it, it was, it wasn’t a whole, there weren’t a whole lot of stress involved in it. You know? The biggest stress was if you could get three seats on the, on the airplane, cause we flew a lot in the morning. So you’re hoping you could get three seats. You can curl up, try to get up, try to fall asleep.

That was the most stress. Yeah,

Mike Klinzing: [00:44:47] there you go. Yeah. Battling your teammates, right. For the open seats. For the open row on the plane.

Jay Peters: [00:44:52] Yeah. Yup.


Mike Klinzing: [00:44:55] Talk to me about the transition from playing to coaching. Clearly coaching [00:45:00] was in your blood from the time you were young with your dad, but just talk about your decision to go into coaching when you thought that, Hey, I want to be a coach, and then talk a little bit about your first experience as a coach after you finished playing.

Jay Peters: [00:45:14] Yeah.  well, I,  I, I think I always wanted to go into coaching just because I grew up around it and. You know,  I remember being a kid, like when I was a kid, you’d go to basketball camp and they all, at the time they were like, they, they taught about it. Now I think most camps you go to, everybody just plays.

When I was a kid, coaches, you know, you went into stations and they taught you how to do things. And I just had this hunger to learn cause I wanted to, I wanted to please the coach that was in the drill. I wanted them to, you know, and I wanted them to say, Hey, good job, that kind of thing. And I remember thinking through.

Even as a little kid, I wanted to learn everything I could, every detail I could.  and then as I got to high school in college,  I knew the guy I played for in high school. Al darner was, it was a very [00:46:00] good fundamental basketball coach and drill oriented. And,  again, I still use a lot of the drills that,  that he taught offensively and defensively cause they were that good.

Same thing with coach McDonald. So I remember as I was going through that process, you know, mentally. Cataloging,  all the things that they had taught me. Cause again, not being a phenomenal athlete,  you know, those things are the things that separate you,  you know, a kid who is a good athlete and a good player with good skills.

 but that’s the thing that separates you from guys who are possibly better athletes that don’t have good skills, who can’t play. So in the process of all that, I was trying to learn as much as I possibly could and just remember it.  I’ll be honest, my first coaching experience was, was was eighth grade girls.

 which I’m thankful that I’ve never had to do that again. Sorry. No offense. Wait a second. Wait a second.

Jason sunkle: [00:46:54] Okay, I’m jumping in now. Mike. Here I come.

Mike Klinzing: [00:46:58] here he comes. J [00:47:00] watch out. Jay. This is, this is what I coach.

Jason Sunkle: [00:47:02] This is what I coach.  I coach eighth grade girls basketball and you know what? I love it. Because here’s why. Here’s why. I’ve coached boys and girls, and here’s why. I’ve loved coaching eighth grade girls, because if I tell them to do something, they’re going to try their darndest to go out there and do it. They might not execute, but I know they’re listening and they’re going to try. Whereas where I’ve coached the boys, I could, they could have all the skills in the world. They could be like. The greatest seventh grade basketball players all the time. I will tell them something and they look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language and they have no clue. Whereas I just feel like the girls are going to go out, they’re going to try and they’re paying attention.I never have to say pay attention to what I’m saying, cause that’s all I’m going to say.

Jay Peters: [00:47:45] I’ve heard, I’ve heard a lot of people say, my dad actually, when he got, when he was done coaching boys at Medina, he got out of it for a couple years and then went back and coached girls, said the same thing. And that was in the late seventies early eighties said the same thing.

He said the girls. [00:48:00]  listen, like the boys all think they know everything and like you can’t teach them anything. And the girls listen, they, they want you, they want to be taught how to play and they don’t act like they know everything. I, for me, the eighth grade girls is, I had no idea. Like, again, I was 20, whatever.

I mean, I was,  I was young.  I was, I was at camp. I, I needed $1,200 for a, for a semester of tuition and they were paying $1,200. So I was like, Hey, I’ll, you know, yeah, I’ll do that. And I had no idea. What the mindset of an eighth grade girl was. So here’s my favorite story of that. We had, there’s a little conference tournament at the end of the year.

And,  this girl,  Shaniqua was her name. She came up to me and,  right before the tournament game, and we were like the last seed and they were the first seat. We were not very good. And it was the first year for basketball at this school. So. We were starting out at ground level there, you know, this is the, this is the foul lane, this is a foul line, that kind of thing explained and [00:49:00] all that stuff.

So,  and she comes up to me before the game and she says, she says, coach Peters, if we lose tonight, we’re done. Are we done? And I said, yes. And she was like, yes. And then the crazy thing was, I remember she went out and score, you know. You score a double digits in eighth grade girls, but she had like 10 rebounds and 13 points, and it was like she’d never played that well in her life.

We still lost, but I just remembered that the season was over before every game. Then she’d do that. Yeah, I was wrong. We play one more game. Just keep saying it. So, yeah. So I went from there, and then,  in my athletes and action days,  my wife and I actually, we moved down to Kentucky. I was, I went to, I finished my, my schooling at Northern Kentucky university where I got my teaching certificate, but, so I coached at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy.

They only had, they were adding a grade every year, so I coached JV basketball.   they had, they had [00:50:00] nine,  I think they had 15. 10th graders in the school. Nine of them came out for basketball. So that’s the group I had that I work with there. And they were awesome. They,  they were the kids that they weren’t very good.

They really wanted to, they really wanted to learn. And,   we just had a great time,  coaching. I can’t remember how many games we won or lost.  the, a D was, was insane cause he, you know, like I said, we had 15 10th graders in the school and the, and the eight and the. A D we scheduled like the 10th grade team at Middletown and Hamilton.

No, I’m not kidding you. And it’s like, I’m thinking to myself, we got beat by Hamilton the first time we played him by like 50 and I said to the guy, I said, you know, they were supposed to come to our place later. And I was like, yeah, this is kind of a waste of time. But the crazy thing was the second time we played at our place, we almost beat them.

You know, it’s like, so it was kind of fun to watch our kids, you know, kids to keep fighting and battling and that kind of stuff. So, [00:51:00] so those are my first two stints. My first varsity experience was at Strausburg high school down in Tuscarawas County. And   you know, I had a great first year. I had a couple of really good guards,  JJ.

Her’s too. I think he ended up scoring 1700 points in his career. I had him his senior year and Andy Miller, and then I had a collection of other kids that were just.  just great scrappy kids. They weren’t. And we, we ended up winning the district and winning our conference title. That because of me,  I thought I knew what I was doing.

Probably most coaches, probably the most, most players who were decent players coming out. You know, I thought I knew what I was doing and I found out very quickly,  that the coaching is a lot different than, than what you imagine in terms of practice planning and teaching and what you think kids know.

And what you need to teach them. And,  I, I very, very quickly learned that kids don’t know [00:52:00] anything. And they, they, they, they don’t any of that you think they, do you think they know what it means to front pivot and, you know, reverse pivot and pin a man and, and,  and they don’t. And,  so that was a, that was a,

A awakening for me at that point. And I did not do a very good job at Strausberg. I thought I knew what I was doing. Like I say,  my first year we were really good and then the next two years we were not very good. And,   I, I knew I needed to do some hard evaluate, self evaluation and study to figure out,  how I was going to get better at, at, at my particular craft.

Cause I, like I say, I, I had taken all the drills that my. A high school coach and college coach. And you know, we, we did all those. And,  but then I started, you know, as, as the years went by, I was like, wait a minute, there’s more to this than just doing the drills. It’s, you know, what are we trying to get?

And I, I certainly am,  you know, [00:53:00] if I always said this, if I could go back knowing what I know now, the two teams, one team went one at 20, my third season, we won one game, which is horrible.  obviously and miserable from a coaching standpoint. But if I, if I could go back today, you know, I’m confident enough to think that I could have taken those kids and we would have won maybe 11 or 12 games, you know, we wouldn’t have been great, but we could have won, you know, that many games.

But,  but I, but you learn a lot and you, like I say, you sit down and you evaluate and you say to yourself, okay, what works? What doesn’t work and why am I doing these drills?  what do these kids, what can they do? What can’t they do? And,  and you’ve got to figure that out for every single team that comes along if you want to be, if you want to be good at it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:53:45] I think what’s interesting about what you just said there, Jay, and that it’s something that. I’ve thought about too, and I think back to my first coaching experience, I was a basically a volunteer assistant at the JV level at Strongsville. And then I got the JV job at Bay for two years. [00:54:00] And so basically that, those two years I was at Bay, I was kinda, I was almost an essence.

We never practiced with the varsity team. So it was just my team. So it was my kids and me in the gym running practice. And I think back to those times, and I think I was very similar to you in that I thought, Hey, I was a player and I know what I’m doing. And I looked back, I looked back on that time now and I’m like, well, really?

How much did I know? Because I played for one high school coach for three years. I played for the same college coach for four years. Yeah. And that’s, and that’s it.

Like, I mean, that’s, that’s my exposure to, to basketball in terms of what type of offense to run or what kind of plays you’re going to set up or what kind of drills you’re going to do.

And you think about your, your view of the basketball world and what coaching was. Was so narrow. It was basically just like you said, I just did the things that I had done as a [00:55:00] player. I just transferred those and said, I’m going to do these as a coach, and you think about, again, just growing your profession, and I was somebody who at that point, like I never went to a clinic.

I really wasn’t reading books about coaching at the time. I was just kind of. Doing my thing, and if I look back, same way you said, if I look back on one, I wasn’t a very good coach at that point, and two, I certainly would have gone about it knowing what I know now, I certainly would have gone about it a totally different way.

And I, I know, I know way less today about coaching than I thought. I knew when I first started when I was 23 years old.

Jay Peters: [00:55:38] Yeah. That is so true. You know? Yeah. Like I say, I’ve been coaching from the eighth grade girls still until this year, 29 total years of coaching. And there’s, there’s times where, you know, you learn more and you can, you know, like when you’re scouting, you can say you don’t have to write everything down cause you’ve, you know, you’ve seen this offense before, that sort of thing.

But at the same time you’re like, okay, you’ve got a new group of [00:56:00] 14 year old boys coming in as freshmen that you’re in charge of and you’ve got to go back and you’ve. You know, I know it sounds crazy,  but you know, those UCLA footwork drills that we did at Kent state every day, I did those virtually every day.

 and it, you know, at CVCA and Grove city high school where I was there. And,  you know, when I coached at Massilon as an assistant, we did those, cause that’s, you can’t do that. You can’t play, you know, and so it’s, you, you’ve got to go back and you’ve got to teach every single kid. What every single piece of terminology means.

And you gotta do that every day and over and over again. And I, you know,  I had this, I had this misconception that,  you know, like you, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re a good player, highly skilled player,  who could do a lot of things. You know, that you could, you could shoot, you could drive, you could drive with both hands.

You know, you had great vision. So when I started out coaching, I remember thinking, well, yeah, you just teach kids how to do that, and they can all do that. And that’s not anywhere near the [00:57:00] case. I mean, you can teach kids how to do things better, but what I didn’t really understand was fully appreciate is that the limitations that each individual kid has and how to, and how to take what a kid does well and incorporate that into your system and into the team.

Because not every kid’s going to be able to, you know, go in and do, you know, drive to the hoop and stop on a dime and do an up and under move and shoot with his left hand off the back board. Under pressure. You know, some kids can’t and you let those kids do that, but, but how can I take little Johnny over here who’s a, who’s a tough competitive kid, you know, he handles the ball well and plays great.

Defense, is unselfish and doesn’t want it, doesn’t need to score.  but he’s a great, valuable member of the team. Whereas when I started out, I was like, well, Johnny can’t shoot for, you know. Yeah. You know, and, and I would get frustrated with that. And that, again, I learned, obviously as I, as I grew, that every individual kids, like, you know, I’ve had kids that couldn’t shoot worth [00:58:00] a lick, but they were, you know, I had two kids on my CBC teams that were phenomenal defenders.

 they, they couldn’t score very well, but man, Oh man, I’d put that like every night we’d go out on the court and I say, Hey, John, you’ve got, you’ve got number 15 and we dealt with the scouting port and, you know, and, and he would just go lock kids up. And, you know. Whereas at the beginning I just said, well, I can’t play this kid cause he can’t score.

And it just, you just learn stuff that you need and you figure things out that you’d like to say. You thought you knew when you were and you thought like, you think you’re going to mold players into being you.  you know, cause again, I was a fairly good player. I mean I had. You know, I could do a lot of things for a guy my size.

And I thought, well, I can take a bunch of kids that do that. And I, you know, like I say, I rudely found out that that’s not,

Mike Klinzing: [00:58:44] yeah. I think that what I hear you saying there is that the ability to adapt and adjust as a coach from player to player and from year to year is probably one of the most important skills I would guess, that any coach can have.

Jay Peters: [00:58:58] Yeah. And, and, and [00:59:00] being able to take your individual kids, like I say, and.  again, it’s a, it’s a quote from John wooden somewhere and I’m butchering it, but, you know, don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. You know, that you’re, you’re good players, you’re good athletes. The kids who really love to play and who are competitive and where and who and who want to go out and compete,  figure out what they, what they can add to the team and, and,  and, and use that.

And then again, at CBCA,  my kids were great in the sense that, like, I, I had all kinds of kids. I said, Hey, you’re not allowed to shoot. Yeah. That’s, you’re not alone. This is a shot. You’re allowed to shoot these shots right here cause you got all summer to prove to me that you’re a shooter or a maker. We always go to make you show me you’re a maker and I’ll let you shoot.

But if you’re a misser, you’re just a shooter. I’m not gonna let you shoot because that’s just stupid, you know?  you know, I’m not gonna, I’m not going to put Bo Jackson in it and you know, at defensive tackle, cause it’s just stupid. You know, he said he’s a running back. He said, you know. He’s got amazing talent to do that.

So [01:00:00] I’m not going to take other kids that can’t do something but can add to the team and not use them. But you got to convince kids to the bet of that too. You got to, I had to, I had one of those defensive players. I had a long talk with him in the summertime and he wasn’t going to play a senior year.

And I said, Hey, this is what the team means from you. I, you know, you’re surrounded by all these other kids who are really good offensive players. I need you. You’re one of the best athletes I have, and you’re one of the best defenders I’ve ever had. But I need you to do that and unselfishly and not expect to go out and score.

And he bought into that and had a great senior season with us because he was willing to do that.

Mike Klinzing: [01:00:35] So when you’re, when you have a kid like that, that you obviously have to have those honest conversations and tell kids the truth and build the trust in that relationship so that they are willing to accept that from you.

Did you ever, at any point during your coaching here, did you ever chart practice shots? Like keep track of, okay, here’s, here’s your shooting percentage when we’re doing. This three point shooting drill. Did you ever have an [01:01:00] objective measure, something that you could show the kid like, like, here’s your, here’s your shooting percentage from this summer.

You shot 24% from three in our, in our workouts in the summer. Did you ever go that far with it or was it more just in case?

Jay Peters: [01:01:12] I never watched that. I never went that far. Yeah. I really never had kids that, that, that disagreed with me that you know, that when I sat down and talked to them and said, look, I don’t see you as a three point shooter.

And sometimes it would just be brutal honesty with, with, you know, he’d sit around with, I would say that in front of the whole team, not specifically about, you know, one kid. I wouldn’t say, Hey Mike can’t shoot, you know, you know, in front of the whole team, I’d say, look, you’re going to shoot the shots I want you to shoot.

Cause if not, you’re not going to play. And that’s just as simple as it’s going to be.  and I would always use this line, you know, it makes me laugh, but I’d say sometime when you’re down the road and you want to coach and you’ve got a team and you want everybody, Jack and threes. You do that, right? But right now I’m the guy decide who gets to shoot and shoot what.

And I say, you know, and I’d say, Hey, if you guys want to shoot [01:02:00] threes over places and you want to coach a team, I’ll come watch you play and you’re going to get your butt kicked in. But I’ll come watch you play when you do that. But you know, so we’re going to do it my way. And if you don’t like that, then we’ll find somebody else who wants to do that.

And I think, I’ll be honest with you,  I would always tell my kids, I’m going to be honest with you. Sometimes it’s going to be.  brutally honest, but I’m going to tell you exactly, but if you want to play, this is what I see. And like I say, and I tell them, you can prove me wrong. Summertime’s the time to prove me wrong, you’re not going to prove me wrong during season here, cause I’m not going to risk losing a game here or there because you feel the need to shoot a couple threes or whatever shot you’re taking.

But,  but you, you, you got a lot of time to prove me wrong. Man, and if you do, if you’re a maker, I’d be an idiot not to let you shoot. So, you know, I mean, I bet it’s the other thing, I want to win more than you do. So, you know, if you’ve got the skills and you can make shots and you know, obviously you got to make more buckets than the other team does.

If. If you’ve got that skill, brother, I’m going to let you like that [01:03:00] sucker up as much as you want, but if you don’t, don’t shoot.

Mike Klinzing: [01:03:02] Boy, don’t you wish you could just implant that little snippet right into a parent’s ear or into their brains so that they could hear that all the time so that they would be able to accept that and, and, and understand that again, what.

As a coach, we all want to win. And in order to win, we want to put the best players on the floor and put them into the positions that they need to be in in order to be successful. And it goes back to what we talked about at the beginning. Just the, the, the focus on the individual over the team, I think has gotta be, you know, it’s gotta be a huge challenge.

As you were talking, I wanted to ask you this question, just thinking about those conversations that you have with a kid about, Hey, you’re. No, you’re a shooter, you’re not a maker. What do those conversations look like in your program? Was that a conversation that you were having? I don’t want to say casually, but let’s say informally, like before practice, while kids are stretching [01:04:00] or while they’re shooting around.

Is that something where you’re on a regular basis? You’re calling each kid into your office to talk. Just tell me a little bit about how you’re communicating the truth to the players, just just what your methods were in that.

Jay Peters: [01:04:12] That would depend. It would,  I’m not a big meeting guy in terms of having big, long, huge meetings.

I’d like to get on the court, and again, you’ve got a brief window of time, especially, you know, like at a place like CBC, we had one gym,  and a little dinky little, you know, the blue gym, which there, you know, it wasn’t big enough as you know, about the size of your bedroom closet property. And that’s where the junior high for the most part played.

So you couldn’t do anything in their bar. So your time on the court was pretty limited. But it would be, you know, sometimes it would be, I’d grab a kid before. Practice as they’re coming on. You know, you got that little 10 minute window before you’re blowing the whistle and everything, you know, you get on the baseline to do foot work, or,  you might grab a kid then maybe you’re talking to them in the whole way, maybe.

And it would be an ongoing thing,  throughout the year too. I didn’t want it to be like [01:05:00] a thing.  you know, like all of a sudden, the season starting in November and I’m pulling Johnny, I’d say, Hey, you’re not allowed to shoot this year. I mean, it would be a thing that we would talk about. Like I said from the time that he was first starting out in the program where you’re discussing, okay, this is what you need to work on.

This is what I see you can do. These are the things I think you really need to work on. If you want to be, you know, you can play and you, and you can be a valuable player, this team doing X, Y, and Z. But if you want to be a maker, you know, this is what you’re, you’re really having to do this and you’re going to have to show me.

You can do that. And if you can, that’s great. If not, you better be really good. I want you to really be good at these because you can really add a lot to the team. So I think it’s, it was more of an ongoing thing than just sitting down like at one time,  with, with,  with a young man and, and, and talking through them like that.

Mike Klinzing: [01:05:51] Yeah, that  makes a lot of sense. I want to ask you this. When you think back on the totality of your career, and let’s imagine that with [01:06:00] all the knowledge that you have today. You were going to go and you were going to start over and you were going to go to a brand new program. If you were going to do that, what would that, what would that look like?

What would be some things? Maybe give me two or three things that you know right out of the gate that you would walk into that environment and you would say, okay, these are some things that we have to get done. Now. Clearly every situation’s different. You’re not going to know your players and things, but just if you think about maybe from a culture standpoint, what are some things that you would do right out of the gate?

Jay Peters: [01:06:29] Yeah. I think the biggest thing, and this is you’ve got to convince your kids that,  and hopefully this is true, that you have their interest first and foremost in your mind. That the idea that, that,  that you’re, I’m, I’m here to coach. Yeah. I love coaching, but I’m, I’m here because I want to see you become the best that you can possibly be.

And I want to, I want to be the guy that helps you do that.  I want to be the guy that takes your high school. Basketball experience and tries to, and [01:07:00] we used this phrase, squeeze the lemon. We’re trying to get as much juice out of the lemon as we can. So we’re going to squeeze that thing for every day, every single player.

And so we would talk about that every single day. We’re going to find out how far we can push you and what I want to find, what I want you to find out is how much further you could go than what you ever thought you could. And so you’re starting out the culture based on that whole mindset that when, if we get a bunch of guys doing that.

And, and pushing towards that and who are creating the culture that,  that we are more important than me. And again, I know these are trite little things, but those are the things, right? If you, if you can convince. Kids that,  that this basketball season that you’re going to have working together and competing together and coming to practice every day, which are hard, man, you’re, you’re going to work hard and you know, work harder in basketball practice and you’re working in any other sport that you’re playing.

I guarantee that. Right? And if you can convince kids, the few kids that, you know, when you’re picking out in each class saying, okay, [01:08:00] these are the kids that I think are really going to be the players cause they love to play basketball.  You know, and, and setting in a sense that tone and that foundation.

I’m here because I want to see you be the best you can be. And,  and convincing kids of that. And then you can go, I think you can go from there. Okay. This is how we’re going to get there.

Mike Klinzing: [01:08:19] What’s the biggest challenge you think high school coaches are facing currently in our current, in our current state, not in our current quarantine state, but the state of high school basketball today.

Jay Peters: [01:08:31] Hmm. I think,  I think kids are,  kids and parents have,   I to say like a distorted view possibly of what high school sports is for.  and I, but I also think that they have a distorted view of,  what you,  what they want to get out of high school sports, I think. I think. [01:09:00] The thing I’ve seen, especially probably in the last 10 years, is,   kids who don’t want to put as much time in,  but they’re expecting bigger results.

And I think parents are the same way. I think that, you know, you’re,  they’ve got so many things they can do and so many things that are, that are easy and fun to do.  and you know, the idea of. Going to basketball practice. That’s, that’s really hard and difficult and strenuous and demanding.  and to do that in the summertime,  that’s, that’s the big change I’ve seen,  that, that a lot of kids just don’t want to put the time in,  in the off season to do the things they have to do to be good.

And I, and I think parents have this idea, well, you know, you’re asking too much. You know, you’re demanding too much of the time.  you’re too demanding and practice. You’re too demanding and, and, [01:10:00]  what you expect out of your players. And, but yet at the same time, everybody thinks their kid’s going to go play college basketball cause they, you know, run the high school basketball

Mike Klinzing: [01:10:09] and everybody wants to win too.

Jay Peters: [01:10:12] You know, I mean, I get you go back to this, I don’t care what you do as, you know this, if you want to be good at it, you gotta you gotta commit yourself. You gotta put some time in and,  you know,  kids. You know, kids say they want to be good at basketball, and then you’ve got everything scheduled for them and they show up, you know, 30% of the time.

And,  that’s been a big change that I’ve seen. And the more coaches I talked to, you know, well, we played in the summer league last summer for the first time. You know, usually I would just bring my alumni back and we would take our 10 days and,  we would,  we’d do a bunch of drills for about an hour and 15 hour and 20 minutes.

And then I’d have them scrimmage against my alumni and, you know, and then I could stop and. Whatever. We didn’t do that last year. We played in a summer league and,  you know, corral and kids to [01:11:00] end up and get to summer league.  and every coach I talked to says the same thing. And it’s just, I think that’s,  you know, you want to be good,  and you want to be good at basketball player.

You want to be a guitar player, you gotta practice, you know, you gotta put time in. It just doesn’t happen. And your coaches and a miracle worker, you know, you can’t, you know, I can, I can make you. I can make you better with what I’m going to teach you. But at some point too, there’s, there’s, you know, there’s the part that you’re adding that in the, you know, in the off season, you and I, you know, and guys like me, like we didn’t have, there was no contact period in the summertime.

We weren’t allowed to, you know, have workouts with our coach. We, we went to the park literally every night in Medina at Rican park, and,  you know, at six o’clock at night there were, there were a bunch of guys that are playing and we’d play til you couldn’t see the ball anymore. We couldn’t get him to put lights up.

So. Okay. And you’ve already mentioned it to the kids. Just kids don’t do that. If you have to schedule everything out for kids and they’re so busy and their parents have been so busy,  [01:12:00] and, and, and again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but then don’t couple that with the idea that you don’t want my kid to really be a great basketball player.

 if he’s not willing to put the time in and,  and do the things that, you know, working on your skills and, you know, lifting weights and getting stronger and faster and quicker. And, you know, don’t say that. If you don’t want it. You know, if you’re, if you know, don’t say the one thing, if you’re not willing to do the other.

Yeah. There’s no shortcut to, there isn’t anything. I’ve been, I have a guitar here sitting next to me down in my basement that,  you know, I’ve always wanted to be able to learn how to play the guitar and gosh, dang it, man. I’m not, I’m not somebody that does things well that like, if I don’t start out at least picking up some sort of like.

You know, acuity at it and I just can’t man. And so it’s, it’s sitting there. I, you know, I was messing around fender, fender, the Qatar banking company, they gave three weeks free lessons. So I started doing it and I want to throw the thing against the wall cause can’t get your fingers on one string at a time.

[01:13:00] You know, and I, and I, but I say I go back to that. If, if I took that as approach as a basketball player, then. I never would have gone to the park, and I have do it. I really don’t want to be a good guitar player because I’m not willing to do the things, the fundamental drill stuff that to fight through the frustration of not being able to one finger on one string at a time.

So I, you know, and that’s basketball players too.

Mike Klinzing: [01:13:23] I knew that in fourth grade when I tried to play the recorder, Jay, that my fingers were not, my fingers were not made to do different things. They all had to be working on the same project at the same time, going over different holes and moving in different directions.

That was not going to be for me. I knew that. I knew that right away,

Jay Peters: [01:13:38] so I decided to stay. I was decent musical kid when I was, I played the trumpet when I was looking at, when I practiced. Good. There you go. But guitar’s different cause it’s two finger. It’s two hands and fingers and it’s just, man, it’s hard.

And I’m old, so,

Mike Klinzing: [01:13:53] all right, let’s end with this question before we wrap up. What is, or what has been your biggest [01:14:00] joy in coaching high school basketball? What did you love? Got you, but you got up in the morning. What’s the first thing you thought about? What got you excited? What did you just love about being a high school coach?

Jay Peters: [01:14:12]  I think I go back to that thing that like you’re trying to convince kids. That they got a lot more in them than, than what they ever knew. And that was true for me growing up. I thought I was working hard,  which I, which I was, I was a hard worker.  but that, but I also, you know, I didn’t really truly understand how much further I could go, how much further I could push myself.

 when I got to go back to Kent, I found out little, I got a little taste of that. When I play with AIA, I got a taste of that. And,  one of the things that I wanted to make sure that I preach to my kids constantly. You got a lot more Indian than what you thought you had. And to watch kids who played for you, who,  who did work hard and who committed to that, and to watch [01:15:00] them,   get to figure that out and have that success.

 and,  and to experience. The joy of competition.  because I think that’s what sports is. There’s a, there’s a,  again, I know it’s a corny thing to say, but the joy of competition is going out and giving everything you got. And,  and not just on that night, you know, but given everything he got in the summertime, the fall, the spring,  and, and trying to squeeze that lemon and get, you know, see how good you can be.

And then go on and being satisfied at the end of that. And just getting to get into walk kids through that and go through that with them.  you know, for the years that I got to do that. That’s, you know, that’s, that’s been really satisfying. And to get to do it, I will throw in to get to do with my three sons and my nephew,  to get to coach all of them amongst all the other great kids I’ve had, especially at CVCA and,  you know, again, Strausberg at coach that masculine for five years.

[01:16:00] I run into some of those kids that are kids anymore for crying out loud. They’re 40 years old. You know, you still think of them as 18 year olds, but you know, just to watch, just to get to do that with them and, and to watch them,  realize that and, and get a taste of what that means. That’s, that’s really satisfying.

Mike Klinzing: [01:16:19] Yeah. I think those relationships, there’s nothing better than getting that phone call, Hey, coach. And then they have something to tell you or share with you from their life. I think that’s really what. As much as we all want to win, as important as that is to us. I think those relationships and just being able to connect with players in that way, that they still want to be connected to you.

Years and years after I just talked to Coach Grube on the phone, I probably haven’t spoken to him in 25 years  and I talked to him on the phone the other day. This was our assistant coach at Kent while we were there and I still call him coach you know, I still called him Coach Grube. I’m not, you know, I could never see [01:17:00] calling him Dave.

It just wouldn’t  seem right. And to me, that’s really what coaching is all about. Those are the kinds of relationships that you build, that you want to have that are meaningful and. There’s nothing, there’s nothing better than that. And I think all of us as coaches feel that way.

And it’s satisfying to hear you say that that’s important. That’s what’s important to you. And that’s what kind of drove you throughout your career. And I can’t thank you enough for spending almost an hour and a half with us tonight, Jay. It’s been a lot of fun to dive into your story. It’s been a lot of fun to hear about the things that you were able to accomplish as a head coach at the high school level.

And I think there was a lot of great things in here for other coaches to be able to hear and listen to and just learn from the story that you were able to share with us. So I can’t thank you enough for joining us and to everyone out there. We will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.

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