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Ken Rector is in his second season as the girls’ varsity coach at Barberton High School in the state of Ohio.
Ken previously spent 20 years as the head boys basketball coach at Barberton High School. Rector’s teams won 314 games over those 20 seasons, and his teams won eight conference titles, three district titles and over 70 percent of their games. He was the 2009 AP Ohio Div. I Coach of the Year.
Ken is the co-host, along with Zac Jackson, of the On the Bench Podcast dedicated to covering high school basketball in Northeast Ohio.
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Listen and learn from this episode with Ken Rector, Girls’ Basketball Varsity Head Coach at Barberton High School in the state of Ohio.
What We Discuss with Ken Rector
- Growing up during the golden age of Barberton Basketball
- The way high school community support has changed through the years
- Being a multi-sport athlete
- “They passed on what had been given to them when they were at that park, they didn’t just play for themselves.”
- How he ended going to school at Mount Union and playing football and basketball before a rotator cuff injury ended his football career
- Selling commercial insurance when he first graduated and helping out Roger Kramer at Barberton and thinking coaching might be his career path
- “It was just a way for me to give back. I love the game so much. I had a passion for competition. I had a passion for the game of basketball and how I felt that it should be played or could be played.
- Leaving insurance to work with Dave Close at Stow while going back to school to get his teaching certificate
- “If you’re going to be successful, you better be able to adapt to the kids that you have in your program and what their abilities are.”
- “You’re never going to cheat the amount of time that you have to put into the game to be successful.”
- The importance of conversations with other coaches and learning from their experiences
- The amount of time high school coaching requires today
- Why he felt like he could never have fun while coaching
- “It is an incredibly taxing profession, but an incredibly rewarding professional.”
- Getting the girls job at Barberton after having coached the boys for 20 years
- Coaching girls and how they want to fit in rather than stand out
- “Girls really like being a part of something special, not necessarily the focus point of something special.”
- “My only goal in coaching this girl’s program is that when these girls graduate, that they look back on it and they say, man, am I really happy that I played basketball.”
- The fear of failure he felt as the boys’ coach
- “If we fail, we fail, but I know that I’ve given everything that I have to be successful.”
- Learning how to delegate and give more autonomy to his assistants
- “You have to be able to focus on the critical aspects of player development and program development versus the minor details of what color or style of shoes we’re going to wear this year.”
- The difficulty of finding good middle school coaches
- What he looks for in assistant coaches
- There’s nothing more important than loyalty within a staff
- Starting the On the Bench Podcast with Zac Jackson as a way to give back to the game after giving up the boys’ job
- Building the girls’ youth program in Barberton
- Why the pre-practice stretching routine is so important to the girls on his team
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THANKS, KEN RECTOR
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TRANSCRIPT FOR KEN RECTOR – BARBERTON (OH) HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS’ VARSITY HEAD COACH – EPISODE 408
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, but I am pleased to be joined by the head coach of the Barberton Magic girls’ program. Ken Rector, Ken, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
Ken Rector: [00:00:14] Thank you, Mike. I’m looking forward to it and excited to be on here talking about hoops.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:20] Absolutely. We are excited to be able to have you on. Get an opportunity to learn about all the great things you’ve been able to do with the game in a lot of different positions, in a lot of different places. So I want to go ahead and start off by asking you how you got into the game of basketball as a kid.
What was it about the game that made you fall in love with it? Just talk about some of your first experiences.
Ken Rector: [00:00:39] Well, I think first of all, I was involved or had a father that loved athletics, had a family, that extended family. I say that anytime anybody got together, there was always sports being played.
I watched my uncles when I was two, three years old. I can remember watching them play at every family get [00:01:00] together and then just like anybody else, once you catch that bug, you want to be a part of it as a kid. I was the absolute perfect age to grow up in Barberton.
And you know, I was fifth and sixth grade when the Bonder brothers and Carter Scott, and the Magics were on the scene winning a state title. And when you’re that age, I mean, there’s no time in your life, probably that you’re more impressionable than that. And growing up in Barberton and being able to watch those teams and read about them and see that it was just a magical time.
And every kid, I don’t care who you were, every kid that age, you lived in Barberton at that time you wanted to be the next basketball player. You just wanted to have the opportunity to play on that court. And. [00:02:00] I think that’s when the bug hit and I was addicted to athletics.
I’ll tell you that.
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:06] How did you go about as a coach, once you got to coaching and we’ll come back to you as a kid, but I think that’s one of the things that across the board and maybe not everywhere, but I think it is a little bit different when you think about how. Younger kids have a connection to the high school program.
I felt growing up in Strongsville, sort of the same way that you did. Like from the time I was a young kid, I just looked up to all the players. I wanted to be like them. I want it to run out to the fight song. It was something that I aspired to from a really young age. And I think I went to so many games and it just was something that was kind of just.
Born into me for lack of a better way of saying it. And I just wonder about today, it’s just a different situation with high school students, attending games, and just trying to instill that sort of community spirit and getting your younger kids involved. So as a coach, [00:03:00] what do you do to try to keep that same feeling that you had as a kid within the people that are part of your program within the young players in your program?
Ken Rector: [00:03:08] Well, it’s really difficult. I will say that. I think it has to follow along those same kind of guidelines. You got to have some special kids that are part of your program that just kind of draws in the appeal from the adults in the community. And then that gets passed on to the younger kids and perfect example,
I just was able to attend a wedding this past weekend of one of my former players from the 2009 district title team that we had and we lost the regional finals that year, but that was the closest, I think that the community of Barberton had ever been back to the days of 75 and 76, for whatever reason, those kids were so special in the way that they played and the [00:04:00] way that they were represented the community.
When they went out there and played, it just attracted the adults in the community. First of all, who then wanted their kids to be a part of it, and that lasted for several years after that, it was just a special, special feeling. But it just doesn’t carry over now, like it used to. It’s not a generational thing you don’t have the same type of I guess you don’t have the same type of generations growing up and living in Barberton and their kids growing up and living in Barberton and or anywhere there’s just so much movement now for jobs and everything else.
It’s really hard to get something like that to sustain itself.
Mike Klinzing: [00:04:53] All right. So all that being said, I think one of the things that is interesting when you go back and you think about the time when you grew [00:05:00] up and when I grew up, so you graduated from high school in what? 84, right?
Ken Rector: [00:05:03] Yes. 84.
Mike Klinzing: [00:05:04] I graduated in 88.
So we’re kind of the same generation of. You went out and you played all kinds of sports and you mostly played them, not in a gym or in a travel situation. Like kids play today. You just played in your neighborhood or at the local playground or whatever it was. So talk about what that was like for you to grow up and that kind of atmosphere in Barberton, both from a basketball standpoint, but also just from the other sports that you play.
Cause I know you were a multi-sport Letterman in high school. So what did it mean to you to be a multi-sport athlete?
Ken Rector: [00:05:36] Well, I think that’s all I ever wanted to be. I mean, there was nothing else that mattered to me at that time in the competition to do so was pretty fierce because that’s what everybody wanted to do.
But growing up in Barberton and the community itself, Barberton was and still is a neighborhood park community. So [00:06:00] every neighborhood had a park that was well taken care of, the basketball courts were outstanding. And there were a couple throughout the city that got more play or I say more competitive than others, but you couldn’t go by a park without kids playing there.
And that’s kind of when you knew, if you could get into a game at Tusk Park during the week at any time, Then that’s when you realized you had a chance to, you might actually get to play because there were many nights that I’d ride my bike over to that park and I’d sit on the sideline and I’d watch these guys play, And again I may have been a middle school kid at the time and they were older kids, high school kids, college kids, but you probably learned just as much just sitting there watching them play. Just waiting for your chance. And you know, the one [00:07:00] time somebody looked at you and said, okay, I’m going to have Rector come on in.
You know, it was the greatest thrill of your life at that point you thought, okay, I waited here for 12 days. Four hours every day and I finally got my chance, there’s a chance I might be able to play for Barberton someday. And it was similar to that with the other sports.
I mean I just was lucky that I didn’t really have a favorite, if it was football season and football was my sport, basketball, baseball, but you’re right. When you say that all kids did was play outside and that’s all we did. I mean, it was a just an incredible time to grow up.
If you wanted to be an athlete in an incredible place to grow up, if you wanted to be an athlete also.
Mike Klinzing: [00:07:51] Yeah, I agree with you. I always say, and it’s kind of been a theme. That’s run through the podcast that I feel bad for my own kids in some ways, [00:08:00] because of the way that I grew up in the freedom that I had to be able to go and just.
Find games in the neighborhood and go to the local park and play. And as I’m sitting there listening to your story about sitting at the park and watching guys play, I know my strategy was always, especially when I was younger was I was going to be the first one there. So that when they first game got going and they just had 10 guys, I could always be one of those 10, cause I was always the first guy there.
And then I made sure I was as good as it was getting darker as the lights were going off. I was always the last guy to leave. Cause I could probably get in the last game. So if nothing else, I could always find my way into the first game and the last game. And then as you said, you kind of start to figure out what you can do, what you can’t do.
And you’re playing with guys that are older than you and. Did you know, from different places than you. And it’s just to me, I’ve always said that some of my best experiences as a basketball player, weren’t. In organized basketball. They were out there on the playground. And I looked back on my time as a basketball player.
And some of those fondest memories [00:09:00] are from, from playground basketball. For sure. So if you think about going up and getting into high school, and obviously today it’s much more difficult because of the specialization to play multiple sports. But if you look back on your time as a high school athlete, give us one or two things that stand out to you, memory wise, and it could be.
Be something not even basketball related, maybe it’s in another sport, but just one or two of your favorite memories of being a high school athlete in Barberton.
Ken Rector: [00:09:27] Well first of all, playing at you’ve got to understand the it’s no longer around, but the industrial arts gym that we played in and it was later named Jack Reynolds, Gym, but every game was sold out.
I mean, that’s something that our kids don’t experience that we had. The benches were in the end zones. You had fans that were just kind of hanging over the court and it was every game was a sellout. And you don’t get that same [00:10:00] feel. Now we play in, I mean, our gym at Barberton right now is as nice as there is anywhere, but it’s just not the same feeling as you had when people were lining up at 6:00 AM to get the chance to purchase season tickets.
You know, two months before the season started and knowing when you went in there that every game was going to be sold out and knowing, let’s be honest at that point, knowing that when you went onto the court, he looked down at the other end at the kids warming up and they wanted nothing to do with being there.
So you felt like you were up 20 before the game even started and part of that was that atmosphere. And part of that was just you know, the way coach Greynolds just kinda had things going at that point and you just felt like what, why are these guys even showing up tonight?
Because you know they’re going to get beat down. And that was kind of the attitude that he [00:11:00] brought to everybody. And again that was an incredible memory and back to the parks thing. I’ll tell you what was really special also is that the players that were playing there the older guys that I looked up to and wanting to get out there court, not all of them played high school basketball, Bart some of them just didn’t make those teams, but they were incredible players who played every day at the parks, but what they did do is they passed on what had been given to them when they were at that park, they didn’t just play for themselves. They were playing out there and teaching us younger kids, things that we could use to carry on the tradition of, not only Barberton basketball, but the tradition of basketball in Barberton at those parks. I [00:12:00] mean, everybody felt like it was our job to when we got to the point where we’re in college and we’re coming back and we’re still playing there. Now we were the ones that were looking for the younger kids that really wanted to play and making sure they got on our team.
So that what we had going was going to continue for a while.
Mike Klinzing: [00:12:18] Oh, you finish up your high school career as an athlete and you start thinking about where you’re going to go and play. Your sports in college and talk a little bit about just what that decision making process looked like for you in terms of what you were looking for, what you hope to accomplish both academically and athletically and how you ended up making the decision to go to Mount union.
Ken Rector: [00:12:39] Well I really didn’t know what sport I wanted to play in college. I knew it was going to be football or basketball. I actually had a couple division one offers in football, but they were military academies and I really did not want to go in that direction. And I actually visited more schools for [00:13:00] football and I went down to Mount Union and I was there for visiting the school for football.
And I ran into Coach Staffler who I knew because we’d gone to camps there and stuff. And he kinda just talking to me and he said, boy we were really kind of hoping you were interested in playing basketball. And I said, well, I am, you know what I mean? like I said, it was basketball season, so that was my favorite sport at that moment. And he said, well we were getting the word that you had already decided, maybe it’s because of some of the offers that were publicized, that you were really interested in playing football. And I said, no, I actually, right now, if I had my choice, I would rather play basketball and to his credit somehow that word had gotten out and I really wasn’t receiving a lot of information on basketball.
And even though we were really successful, I had good [00:14:00] numbers whatever. And to his credit, he let everybody know, like within his coaching circle with the OAC and other division three and division two coaches that he knew. He let them know that Hey, I just talked to Ken Rector and he’s actually interested in playing basketball.
And then I started getting some information and contact and calls and everything regarding basketball. And as much as I, as much as anything that’s, that may be the one thing that sold me on Mount Union was the character of Coach Staffler too he could have just kept that information quiet and acted like he was the only coach that was interested in me playing basketball, but he didn’t, he let everybody else know and he wanted me to pick the right school for me and it ended up being Mount Union and you know, and it was a great. [00:15:00] decision for me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:15:02] Well, I’m sure one that you learn something, whether or not you had in mind at that time to be a coach, which we’ll talk about here in a second, but just you think about somebody who put your interests as a student athlete ahead of his own interest.
And when you think about what good coaches do and really what they’re all about when you, when you look at coaching to me, it’s always about if you’re making decisions that are in the best interest of your kids. Then I think you’re doing things the right way. And when you start making decisions that aren’t in the best interest of your kids, that’s when you start getting on a slippery slope.
So the fact that he did that for you, and I’m sure that that made an impression, obviously on you from a college decision and where you were going to go, but then also I’m sure long-term just made you think about, Hey, here’s the guy who went out of his way to. Help me out to do something that was maybe not necessarily advantageous for him, but was to my benefit as a student athlete.
I’m sure that was very, very [00:16:00] impactful. How challenging then, was it during those four years to play both sports? Talk a little bit about that experience?
Ken Rector: [00:16:06] Well my freshman year I only played basketball and I really, really missed football and of course I was still in contact with the football coaches and Mount Union was just at the point where they were really on the verge of taking that turn that they did to become the national power that they are right now.
And Coach Kehres was not the head coach at that time. But he was close to it. I think he became the head coach my junior year, but I talked to the coaches, I talked to the basketball coach. I said, Hey, I really miss it. Can I play my sophomore year? And they all agreed, it’d be fine. I got the opportunity to play.
It was just an incredible experience. I loved everything about it. You know, I always tell the story you know, coach Kheres was taking over my junior year [00:17:00] and my sophomore year, when I got the chance to play at the end of the year, I got hurt. I tore a rotator cuff in my shoulder.
I had to make a decision to have surgery or miss basketball. And I chose basketball, but I always tell Coach Kheres. I said, you know what? If I had to chose football you would have been, you would have started me that next year, and there’s no possible way that I would have had as good a year as the kid that did play.
And you never would have won all the national championships that you did because you picked the wrong guy from the beginning, but it was a great experience. And I will say it was a tough experience because when I was at Barberton we won 20 games every year. When I was at Mount Union, my freshman year, we won our first game and people were so excited and I kept thinking, man, we were terrible tonight.
We were lucky to win. Why, but he’s so happy. Well then we lost 19 games in a [00:18:00] row and I didn’t think I was going to make it. I mean, I literally. It was just mentally for me, I just didn’t think I was going to be able to survive, but we finished with a couple of wins and then the next year I think we won seven games and then the next year we won I think 13 and then 15.
So The the growth through those years taught me things too. You know, it taught me a lot to think about leadership and how to try to get the most out of every player. Even when we didn’t have the most talent in the league, the OAC at that time, it was just like, it is now is incredible league every year.
The national player of the year came out of the conference. And so I think I learned a lot from that as well.
Mike Klinzing: [00:18:49] Did you, at that point when you’re in school, were you thinking about coaching and education at that point? Is that kind of the direction that you saw yourself going? Or did you have [00:19:00] something else in mind when you got done when you graduate?
Ken Rector: [00:19:03] Well I majored in business and I minored in secondary education because in the back of my mind I kept thinking what if I ever want to coach, it’d be nice to have that as a backup play and I’m going to go into business.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but it’d be nice to have education as a backup. So I took classes my sophomore, junior year towards an education certification or minor. And then I started thinking, well, you know what to do this? That means my senior year, I’m going to have to get up at 6:00 AM and student teach all semester.
And I said, well, I’m not sure I want to do that. So let’s put a pause on that and minor in something else. But that being said it was always in my mind, it wasn’t like the primary thing I was going to do. But it [00:20:00] was something that I knew I would probably be involved somehow.
And when I, when I graduated, I was friends with really looked up to, still look up to, he’s an incredible Mentor. The current Barberton coach at that time was Roger Kramer, who was my JV coach when I was playing there. He was also the current head coach at Barberton. And so while I got a job in the business field, I was selling commercial insurance truck insurance, mostly I was in Barberton and I started helping him out and I really enjoyed it.
I kind of knew then that that would be the move that I would make at some point, I just had to figure out how to do it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:20:53] So what was it about coaching initially that first experience? What was it that you really liked about it?
Ken Rector: [00:20:58] Well, you [00:21:00] mentioned, I like being able to, I don’t know, I’ll take it back to what I said about the parks in Barberton and giving back I felt like I’d been blessed so much by.
You know, being able to play for coach Greynolds. And I really felt that it was, I was so lucky to be a part of something so special. And what Barberton basketball was that it was more a way for me to give back what had been given to me than it was anything about I guess leadership or anything like that.
It was just a way for me to give back. I love the game so much. I had a passion for competition. I had a passion for. The game of basketball and how I felt that it should be played or could be played. And it just felt natural when I started doing it. I enjoyed it. And that was the direction I knew at some point I’d have to move into [00:22:00] and was lucky enough that I had started those classes at Mount.
Because when I made the decision, it wasn’t an easy one. I sold insurance for three years. I enjoyed what I was doing and I was in a good situation. Then all of a sudden you’ve got to drop everything and I got to take 24 hours at Akron to get my teaching certificate so I could move in that direction.
So it was a big lifestyle change as well. I was on my own and all of a sudden I’m moving back home, I’m taking 24 hours of classes. I’m teaching, or I’m sorry, I’m coaching 10 straight weeks of summer camp in the summer, going from one place the other. And then incredibly. lucky to land my first coaching job as a varsity assistant to Dave Close and Stow high school. So, [00:23:00] I mean, you can’t do any better than that. I say this over and over and over again that, the success I’ve had is as much due to the luck that I had in a growing up in Barberton. Playing for coach Greynolds having a mentor and a friend of Roger Kramer who was an incredible coach and actually getting to coach with him for three years.
And then your first job is Dave Close. Now you tell me anybody, that’s had the opportunity to coach under three better coaches than that. And if I wouldn’t have been at least a little bit successful than it would have been a hundred percent on me, cause those three are as good as there is an endeavor has been really.
Mike Klinzing: [00:23:47] All right. So let’s think about those first two years as a varsity assistant. What are some things that you remember that you learned from Dave in those first two years that you still carry with [00:24:00] you in your coaching today?
Ken Rector: [00:24:02] Well, I learned an awful lot, primarily about details and organization and planning and breakdowns and just cutting things up into little parts and in building it back up, because that was nothing like I’d ever experienced before.
And I tell people this all the time. I mean, Jack was so great at teaching people how to play the game. We never had any plays. I mean, we didn’t have out of bounds plays. I mean, he taught you how to play the game. When I went to college and the coaches first practice coaches saying, okay we’re going to shell.
I had no idea what he was talking about. It was a foreign language because we didn’t do that. I mean, when we were at Barberton and we were [00:25:00] playing and Jack was coaching we may have ran the blitz drill for 45 straight minutes or an hour and a half, but it there were no plays. You just learned how to play the game.
You played hard, you played fast. And if you couldn’t do that, there were 15 other kids sitting along the wall that would come in and take your place. So I learned some things obviously in college that, okay, it’s not always like that, but when, when I got with Dave, he saw the personnel that he had on his team during those years, and they were unlike anything that he had coached before, we had a bunch of kids that could handle it.
Shoot it. Pass it, play hard, we were a team of guards and he had always had teams that had solid big men that he liked to walk it down the floor, execute. If it took 45 passes to get a layup, that’s what we were going to do. Well, he saw what we had on that roster and completely [00:26:00] changed what he was going to do, which told me one thing.
You know, if you’re going to be successful, you better be able to adapt to the kids that you have in your program and what their abilities are. You know, I think there are a lot of coaches that get comfortable with one thing, and then they try to just keep doing that thing their entire career. And I just don’t think it works that way.
And Dave was certainly a testimony to me to that, but he was also able to incorporate those things that had made him so successful. That I still have every practice plan that he had as an assistant I’d make a copy of it every day and I kept all of them because it was so eye opening to it, to me that you could be that detailed in a game and how important some of that was.
So that’s really the main thing that I [00:27:00] Brought from my years as his assistant, that, and you know how much time you got to put into it, you’re never going to cheat the amount of time that you have to put into the game to be successful in trying to coach the game.
Mike Klinzing: [00:27:14] All right.
So two questions related to that. The first one is. Well, you’re talking about making adjustments to the way that you play based on your personnel. And clearly, most coaches tend to have a philosophy, offensively, defensively, things that you like to do as a coach or the style of play that you’d like to have, but you have to make changes based on your personnel and what you have as a high school coach.
You clearly don’t have control over who the players are that walk through your walk, through your doors of your gym. You got to just adjust to what you have. So how do you go about as a coach over the course of your career? How did you go about. Finding the things that you wanted to do differently. What were some of the sources?
Did you go to [00:28:00] mentor coaches? Did you go to clinics? Did you watch video? What was it that you were doing to try to pick up new things that you could do to help you adjust off of your base system? So that’s question number one, then I’ll come back to question two.
Ken Rector: [00:28:14] Okay. Well, first of all, I think you do have to have a philosophy.
There’s nothing wrong with having a philosophy. I still have probably the same philosophy. The way I would like to play, but I think you can gotta be smart enough to understand you can try it, but you gotta be smart enough to understand it. And when you’re going to be able to do it or I’d be able to do it, and I think like any coach, I think that most of the time I went to men or coaches I was lucky enough to have. Coaches the coaching community is a special, special group of people, nobody knows how hard it is to be a coach except for coaches.
And for the most part, we want to see each other succeed. And so I think when I had questions [00:29:00] about maybe personnel or maybe trying something that I’d never done before I think it was easy for me, especially at that time to go to other coaches and just kind of talk about it. I can remember just getting together and when you went to a team camp and you spend the night just with a pad of paper and pen and for the coaches in the room, and that’s all you did was just talk about philosophies and things that you could do with your kids.
And, and you gathered that type information. I don’t think it’s like that anymore. And I think, and rightfully so, because like you mentioned also now you can get on the internet and you can find out, I mean, anything he wants to know.
Mike Klinzing: [00:29:45] Absolutely.
Ken Rector: [00:29:46] And you can find film on it. You can find breakdowns on it.
So it’s not the same, but I really, really enjoyed those times when. You know, [00:30:00] coaches used to be able to get together four or five and they still can. It just doesn’t happen as much now.
Mike Klinzing: [00:30:05] Yeah, I think it’s more of a challenge. Although I do think that there is, I think coaches are probably even more open to those kinds of conversations than they were 15, 20 years ago.
Simply because now. Even if you want to hide something, it’s impossible to hide it. So even if you think you have something that’s so unique and we have this offense, or we have this whatever philosophy culture thing that we think is this is the key secrets sauce to our program. Everybody’s going to find that out simply because again, it’s just, it’s all over the internet and people talk and social media and we just, it’s just impossible to keep things.
Hidden, even if that’s what you wanted to do. So I agree with you on that point. And then the second question that I wanted to ask based off what you said before was you talked about you can’t cheat the process. Like there’s just an investment of time. That is not negotiable if you want to have success.
So one of the things that I always think when I [00:31:00] look back on high school basketball over the last 25 or 30 years, I think that the amount of time that a coach has to put in as. Just a baseline level in order to have in order to just be in the conversation of being successful. I think that baseline amount of time that you have to put in has gone up, because again, you think about.
When you and I were growing up as kids in the summertime, you weren’t hanging out with your high school basketball coach and planted a summer league, or going into high school, open gym, you were on the playground and you were playing. And that way you weren’t at a Forman workout or whatever, you were just doing that stuff on your own.
Whereas today we know that high school coaches, you’ve got to put that time in order in a lot of cases. Players won’t be in the gym. They won’t be doing those workouts. They won’t be playing because one, they’re just those games aren’t available anymore. Playground basketball as you. And I know it doesn’t exist anymore.
So I guess the question that I want to ask you is explain to people [00:32:00] what you put time in, on as a high school varsity coach today, maybe that you didn’t have to a long time ago, and then just give people an idea of how much time that you’re spending as a high school varsity coach today in the year 2020.
Ken Rector: [00:32:14] Well, first of all, you’re a hundred percent correct. The amount of time that you have to invest in it now it’s almost, it’s too much time. It really is. I mean to have a family and to devote the time to them that they deserve. And then also the pressure to put the amount of time in that you need to with your high school program is there’s not enough hours in the day and it’s really an unfair burden to coaches and their families. But you know, there’s just no way to fully explain the, the needs of some [00:33:00] of the kids that were coaching and not every district is the same.
But you know, all the kids have emotional needs that you need to help satisfy. They’ve got educational needs. You know, you’re the first person that a teacher’s going to go to if the kid is having a problem in class. The number of kids that are out there especially in some districts even though we had at Barberton.
You know, yeah, they’ve got their algebra two homework due that night or due the next day, but you know, when they leave your practice, they’re trying to figure out, okay, am I going to be able to eat tonight? And where am I going to sleep? You know, those types of things that you become invested in and involved in the practice planning.
The scouting of opponents, the scouting of your own team and practices. Again, it’s all great because you can film all these things now, but there’s just, there’s more stuff to watch to have to do you get to the off season and you’ve got the individual workouts that you can do.
You’ve got the. Like you said, if you’re not bringing the kids in, in a lot of cases, then they’re not getting any work done. And you just feel like you’re constantly falling behind if you’re not doing something 24 seven and, and it’s unhealthy. I mean, it’s an unhealthy way to, I tell people and I’m better at it now in my second stint here as the girl’s coach.
I’m not sure I could be a boys’ coach right now. And I guess I could explain that later, but when I was coaching the boys, it was almost like I could not allow myself to like have fun because if I was having fun [00:35:00] doing something that meant my mind wasn’t on the next game or my team or whatever was happening with basketball.
So it was almost like I’m not going to enjoy this time because I’ve got to keep my mind focused on the task at hand. And you do that 20 years.
Mike Klinzing: [00:35:22] That’ll burn you out fast.
Ken Rector: [00:35:23] Yeah. I mean, you’re just worn out. I think a lot of coaches, you just can’t help it. I mean, you feel that and plus Barberton, wasn’t your typical job either.
I mean, the expectation level there was through the roof every year, no matter what. And so I think that had something to do with it, but I think also I did it to myself as much as anything because I had such a competitive nature and a desire to keep Barberton where it was. And you [00:36:00] know, and it was just kind of the perfect storm of things, but it is an incredibly taxing profession, but an incredibly rewarding professional.
Mike Klinzing: [00:36:13] yeah. All right. So let me ask you this. If you could wave a magic wand and change something about the system to make it so that it was better for coaches and probably better for players as well, what’s something, or is there anything that you could think of off the top that you could change that would make.
That would make a coach’s job. And again, easier is the wrong word, but just put less demand on a high school, varsity coach. Cause I agree with everything you said.
Ken Rector: [00:36:49] Well and that’s a tough question because you’d be talked a lot of coaches for years, coaches wanted more time with their [00:37:00] teams so it went from zero days to 10 days, and then we wanted individual workouts. Then it went from, okay, you’re allowed to do with four or six or whatever the number is. And so we kind of put this burden on ourselves because we kept the pressure to be quote unquote successful as far as wins and losses are concerned are so great.
Or you’re out of a job. So the, the easy answer for a lot of people would be to put more time into it now you know, if you’re asking me that question to make it easier on coaches, you almost have to go backwards. Yeah. You know, you have to go backwards and just kind of like, listen these kids need a break, but that’s never going to happen.
There’s no, there’s no going backwards because of there’s other opportunities that are not in the gym with you, then they may be learning other things from other people or with the way [00:38:00] transfers are right now. That’s another thing.
Mike Klinzing: [00:38:03] Could you have ever imagined like as a kid growing up, like I just think about growing up the way I did and there was never.
Ever a thought in my head of going anywhere except to strong high school, I had never, never even crossed my mind that I would go anywhere else didn’t want to go anywhere else. Just wanted to play with my friends who I’d played with all the time, growing up as a young kid, I just can’t imagine it. And now it seems like kids come up and because they’re playing on all these different AAU teams and there it’s just, you don’t have that same connection with each other.
And then therefore kind of like we talked about off the top. They don’t feel that same connection with their home public school in a lot of cases?
Ken Rector: [00:38:46] No. I mean, we could do an entire podcast on just the way things are changed, but I think you’re right. You know, I didn’t have, [00:39:00] I mean, the thought of not, I mean, I just lived to be a Barberton Magic.
I mean, that was what my sole purpose in life was as a kid. I mean, that’s all I wanted to do but then again, because it was so special in Barberton, I played with kids that maybe they were in a different neighboring district, but man, all they wanted was a piece of that, you know?
So we had transfers, they would come into Barberton and his family would move into Barberton. Because of the program itself, but we never had anybody leave that kind of thing. So I don’t know. I mean, it’s on on coaches these days you know, keeping it sounds ridiculous to say, but keeping players happy, keeping parents happy, keeping administrators, happy, keeping other teachers happy, keeping your own family [00:40:00] happy, it is a tough, tough job.
Mike Klinzing: [00:40:03] Yeah, I agree. I always say, and I think this goes with education too, and you know, kind of to extend from coaching is that it’s one of the few professions where you have. So many quote bosses or people that you’re trying to satisfy.
And if you’re if you’re in business, maybe you’re trying to satisfy the customer and you’re trying to satisfy your boss. So maybe you have to, and maybe sometimes those are maybe sometimes they’re in conflict, but for the most part, the customer wants to get a good experience and your boss wants your customer to have a good experience.
Whereas you get into education, get into coaching and what may be a good experience for one player. Or what needs to be a good experience for them is not necessarily what they’re looking for. And so that obviously becomes a huge challenge. So let’s, let’s ask that question. So how do you, how do you engage your players when you’re talking about helping them to understand what their role is?
Because [00:41:00] clearly everyone from probably your best player down to your 12th player. Does it play as much as they think they should, or their parents think they should, or doesn’t get as many shots as they think they should. So how do you help to define roles for the players on your team?
Ken Rector: [00:41:15] Well, I will say this, it is significantly easier with girls than with the boys.
And not the girls. I think girls want to win more as far as they, they really want to be. I don’t know how to say this correctly, but I think they,
Mike Klinzing: [00:41:32] do you think they want to win together? Maybe isn’t yes. That’s what always my experience with coach and my daughters is I feel like they, they do want to win, but they want to win together.
Whereas boys kind of want to be the straw that stirs the drink that causes the winning.
Ken Rector: [00:41:47] I know what, you’re absolutely right. You know, the girls, it’s a very, it’s a social, there’s a social aspect to being a part of the girls team that [00:42:00] is different than any other dynamic with the boys.
You know, they want to be a part of the team. As a matter of fact, there are many of them that want to be that fourth and fifth wheel, they really don’t want to be the first, second a person or where the responsibility falls on, but they all want to be a part of something. And I’ll go back to my daughter who was a track athlete and they all loved being a part of the relay that was everybody’s favorite event was when they could be one leg of the relay versus being a part of an individual event because it just, for whatever reason, it was just more, it was maybe they felt like it was less pressure or whatever the reason is, but they love, they celebrated, like there was like no other when they would win a relay race versus an individual [00:43:00] title.
When they would win a relay race, their celebrations were so much more pronounced than if they want an individual race, just because they, they really like being a part of something special, not necessarily the focus point of something special. And you know, I’ve really enjoyed that about coaching girls.
That’s been probably the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most is they really want to be a part of it just kind of brings you back to way, baby. You felt like things were back when you were growing up, you wanted to be a part of something special. And that’s kinda the way I felt with coaching the girls these last couple of years.
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:44] So when you retired from the boys’ job at that point, did you have any thought that you would want to get back into it? Where maybe you were just saying, I want to take a couple of years off and then come back. Or was it a case where at that point, you kind of thought [00:44:00] I’m done. I’m going to continue teaching, but my coaching career at the high school level, it’s finished.
Ken Rector: [00:44:04] Now, I thought I was done.
I mean, all the stars aligned to where this was the perfect time. You know, I’d been coaching for 25 years. I’d been the head coach at Barberton for 20 years no one had ever coached any varsity sport at Barberton longer than that, it was kind of like a perfect storm.
My son had just graduated. My daughter was going to, and he was, he was going to go down to Ohio state and be a manager for the basketball team. My daughter was getting ready to run her final year of a collegiate track. So I was going to watch her play. I was going to go down and watch Ohio State play.
See my son. I had I felt like Hey, I’ve put in the time, that was it. I had nothing more to give kind of thing, you know? And then of course, but nobody believes that everybody’s always asking [00:45:00] you. And I think our AD at Barberton and one day and this may have been after I’d been out for my second year or something he said do you ever think you’d ever coach again?
You know, that kind of thing. And I said, no, and he’s like, come on. It might be something that I say, you know what? And I said it kind of jokingly, but I did say, I said the only job that I think I would ever, I would ever consider would be the girl’s job here. I’m not going anywhere teaching wise.
And I’ve still got X number of years here to teach. I said, I really enjoyed when I was coaching my daughter and her friends and in a few, in the spring, it was such a difference from coach and the boys I said, but I think that would be the only one I’d consider. But I said there if I consider, I mean, there might be a 10% chance I’d even look at it, you know?
Cause I was great at [00:46:00] retirement. I’m telling you. And after doing it for so long, it was so nice. And. That in the fact that Barberton didn’t, the girls had a really good coach who’d been there a while and I figured he’s going to be there for the next 10 years anyway. So I figured I was safe in saying that, well, then a year and a half later you know, he gets another job and he’s not going to be able to coach and it’s July.
They don’t have a coach. There’s some girls on the team that I had coached their brothers. The AD just somehow happened to remember what I told him. And next thing you know, I felt like I was it’s like you know, I tried to get away and they just kept, they pulled me right back in, but it’s been great.
Mike Klinzing: [00:46:50] So when you do that, what’s something that what’s something that you took away from the boys’ job [00:47:00] when you think about. When you got out and then you’re going to get back in. What was something that you felt had to be different in order for you to be able to come back? And coach again, just whether it’s from your own perspective of these are some things that I need to do differently, or maybe some things that are different about the circumstances.
Just what, what were you looking for when you came back to that job?
Ken Rector: [00:47:25] Well, I told them when the superintendent and assistant superintendent and athletic director all got me in a room and we were talking about the job and I said I coached the boys for 20 years here.
Like if we didn’t win that game, that night, I may die that night. I mean, I may not survive the night. I mean, that’s, that’s how it’s such a, the level of [00:48:00] intensity. I felt like I had to be in to do that job. And I said, I am not doing that with the girls. I said, my only goal in coaching this girl’s program is that when these girls graduate, that they look back on it and they say, man, am I really happy that I played basketball?
And that someday when they have kids that they want their child to play basketball and have the same or similar experience that they did. I said, that’s it. That’s my only goal. I said if that’s not what you’re looking for, I completely understand it. I said, but you know, if that sounds good to you, then I’m your guy.
I’ll give it a shot and we’ll see what happens. And They thought that was a great idea. And you know, I’m trying to live [00:49:00] up to that every day. It’s not easy. But the girls that I’ve had last year that are part of the program they’re making it easier on me because they make it enjoyable to come in to practice.
When I start to get a little over the top, they somehow find a way to bring me back down and keep everything in perspective. So it’s been really good.
Mike Klinzing: [00:49:34] Have you been able to shift that mindset, which I’m sure if we went back and we talked to you in your very first year as the head coach of the Barberton boys program, 25 years ago, that what you just described as sort of what you were looking for in the girl’s job would not have been what you would have described when you first got that boy’s job. So how have you been able to adjust your mindset? Because it’s not an easy [00:50:00] mindset to just adapt when you’re somebody who. Has been competitive your entire life.
And I think that’s one of the things that I always equated for me. Anyway, I look at it when I’ve coached my own kids’ teams and that’s really where I’ve been a head coach, or I was a head JV coach for a couple of years when I’m coaching. And I’m the head coach, those losses, those games stick with me every single second of every day.
From the time I lose a game until I get to play the next one. And then conversely, I go and I’ll watch my kids play, whether it’s basketball or play another sport. And I find myself just being far more detached and less connected to the outcome where I want them to do well, and I want them to win, but if they don’t.
When the game’s over, I just give him a hug and we get in the car and we go home. And I don’t, I don’t really bat an eye over those wins and losses, but yet if I was the person sitting on the bench, I would be [00:51:00] completely distraught that we lost games. So I’m able to make that disconnect between being a head coach and being a parent.
But I, I’m just curious how you went about kind of shifting your mentality. As a head coach to where you’re thinking about the experience that the kids are having, which obviously you’re providing them with a good experience. We all know that there’s a connection between that and success on the scoreboard as well, but it’s just a different way of looking at it.
So how did you get to that point that you were able to shift your mind to that particular way of thinking?
Ken Rector: [00:51:37] Well, it’s a struggle. I mean, it’s a daily struggle, but I think the main thing is I think I would say the main reason, I guess, would be when I was coaching the boys, there was such a fear of failure to where I mean, [00:52:00] I don’t care what there’s no greater motivator than fear.
And there was such a fear of failure. I think when I was coaching the boys and not that I was afraid of. You know, being labeled a failure, it was, I was afraid of failing other people, failing the city of Barberton and failing all those people that built the program to where it was, you know?
And I think when I took over I think we had trying to think how many years it was. I think we’d had like 30 consecutive winning seasons I didn’t want to be the one to break that streak. You know there was just such a fear of failure that I don’t take with me this time when coaching the girls There’s no state championship expectations and so on and so forth.
So I think that’s one thing that has [00:53:00] helped. I mean, my expectations are still the same I want to get the most out of every girl. But it’s just not the same, I’m not afraid of failing. Now if we fail, we fail, but I know that I’ve given everything that I have to be successful.
The second thing is, and I told you one of my assistant coaches, Rob Walker was also my assistant coach for all 20 years when I was at Barberton. And he was a JV coach for 20 years. And now he’s my varsity assistant for the girls. And when I told him, and he has a daughter that was playing, so I knew I’d be able to pull him in to coach, but I told him, you know, Robbie, I need you to do this for two things.
I said, number one is you’ll be able to help explain me to the girls cause you’ve been around me for so long. You know, [00:54:00] maybe they’re not getting what I’m saying. And the second thing is Rob, I am going to delegate like I’ve never delegated before and he never believed me because again, going back to maybe that fear of failure of everything was too important to maybe place it on someone else.
I had to be a part of it and I know that’s the wrong way to go about things, but I’m just saying that’s the way and I had incredible assistant coaches. And I did give them a lot of responsibility, but you know, not total autonomy, I guess I’ve been able to do that. Now I’ve been able to hand some things over like little stupid things like equipment purchases and stuff like that.
Now I just said, Rob Hey whatever you want, the new uniforms look like, it’s [00:55:00] fine with me. You’re in charge of that. You know, just little things like that I probably never would have done as the boys coach that I’ve been able to kinda let go and just kind of clear that off the plate a little bit to where maybe I can focus more on other things without giving myself a migraine every night.
Mike Klinzing: [00:55:21] I think that delegation piece, like I’ve talked to a number of coaches on here who have talked about sort of their evolution as coaches and saying that once they. Felt like they were able to release some of those little minor details or some of the things that they used to do all themselves. Once they were able to hand that off to other members of their staff or in some cases handed off to the players to make sure.
Decisions or to put that in the hands of a manager or to have a parent doing something that maybe you previously might’ve done on your own, that once you have the ability to more [00:56:00] act like a CEO of the program, and you’re kind of overseeing all these different departments, as opposed to doing everything yourself, that that’s when they really felt like their programs took off, because now suddenly they could focus more on.
The big picture. They didn’t get caught up doing all this little stuff that, not that it’s not important, but it was things that definitely somebody else could do that didn’t necessarily require their expertise as a head coach. And it sounds like that’s sort of the point that you’ve gotten to. And I’m just curious if you were talking to a young coach, just starting out.
What advice would you give them in terms of delegation? How would you tell them to sort of look at that when they’re building a program as a young coach?
Ken Rector: [00:56:46] Well, first of all, I’d tell him how hard it is to do. Cause I know, especially when it’s your first job and you’re trying to put your stamp on that program.
But especially with what we’ve [00:57:00] talked about here today, about how much more difficult it is, how much more time consuming it is. My advice would be is you have to be able to focus on the critical aspects of player development and program development versus the minor details of what color or style of shoes we’re going to wear this year.
Or what the team meals are going to be and where they’re going to be at. I mean, you’ve gotta be able to trust your assistance and hand things over to them that are still gonna allow you to ensure the quality and every aspect of the program that you want to be under your stamp, I guess
Mike Klinzing: [00:57:54] When you think about that, obviously the key to that is being able to have a staff that [00:58:00] you trust and that you can put those things in their hands and know that it’s going to get done.
So clearly. Having the same assistant coach for 20 years in your program, and then bringing them over to the girls program. There’s obviously a tremendous amount of trust there. But when you think about building out a staff and let’s just say, you’re trying to find middle school coaches, you’re trying to find a spot that you’re going to fill.
Obviously we know that that’s challenging. So how do you go about doing that? And again, what advice would you have for coaches? In terms of trying to find or hire a staff. What are the characteristics that you look for in somebody who’s going to be a part of your staff?
Ken Rector: [00:58:38] Wow. That’s a tough question because I’m telling you, you can’t find middle school coaches.
You know what I mean? It’s probably the most difficult thing that a coach has to do is find middle school coaches, boys, girls, it doesn’t matter. And I don’t know why, but that’s just the way it is right now and has been for a couple of years. But the main [00:59:00] point I think with, if you’re trying to find someone to work for you is a, they have to have a passion for the game.
And some and not just a passion for being a coach. Cause I think there’s a lot of people out there that want to be called coach, but not a lot of them that want to accept all the responsibilities that come with it. And that have a true passion for the game of basketball, not just being that person that gets to tell other people what to do kind of thing.
And sometimes that’s hard. That’s hard to find I’ve been so lucky. I mentioned Rob, I had another assistant, Rick Cardinal, who was with me for 16 years, Dan Donald. He was with me for 16 years. And these are all guys that could have had multiple head coaching opportunities. But they just really enjoyed [01:00:00] what we had built together and I think they felt like they were a big part of what the Barberton basketball program was all about and they just weren’t going to leave for any job. I think I must have given them enough responsibility to where they felt like they were in it. And they felt like they were an integral part of the program. And so they didn’t want to leave the program.
And you know, now I don’t know if I could ever find guys like that again if I was just starting over, but those were the type of guys that were passionate, incredibly passionate about the game and incredibly passionate about kids. Not so much about being the one to get their name in the paper if the team won a game.
Mike Klinzing: [01:00:49] Yeah. I think that’s a great point when you start talking about having assistance. I know one of the things that I always felt like as a varsity assistant for a number of years with Phil Schmoke at Richmond [01:01:00] Heights was just that. And I had Phil tell me this after the fact that probably meant more to me than anything that anybody’s ever said to me is certainly as a coach he said to me that the, the one thing that he always appreciated about me was he knew that.
I always had his best interest at heart and the program’s best, best interest at heart and that he could trust me with anything that needed to be done. And I always said that after he told me that, and it was kind of an unsolicited comment when he and I were talking years after we had.
Finished coaching together, but I just told him, I said that probably means more to me than just about anything I could have said, because we all know we’ve been in situations where we’ve talked to coaches where you’ve hired somebody or you’ve had somebody that’s kind of been sort of forced onto your staff.
And then before at that person is saying things about the program or is kind of undermining what’s what’s happening. And when you get into those situations you really can make an environment pretty toxic pretty quickly. And I just think that as an assistant, you owe it [01:02:00] to your head coach to be the person that that coach needs you to be.
And again, that could be different things for different coaches, but I just think that ability to sort of fill gaps and fill needs for your head coach as an assistant to me, is really, really an important quality.
Ken Rector: [01:02:16] I couldn’t have said it better. I mean, loyalty is so important. You’d rather have a coach that you know is going to be loyal to you than someone that’s an expert with X and O’s or conditioning or whatever it may be.
You know, there’s nothing, nothing more important than loyalty within a staff. And I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have that both with the boys and now with the girls program, I’ve got great people working with me.
Mike Klinzing: [01:02:45] Let’s talk a little bit about your podcast. I’m curious, just the Genesis of how you guys got started with, on the bench, what you’ve enjoyed about doing it.
And just tell me a little bit about the process that you went through of getting it started. I’m always [01:03:00] fascinated by people who were kind of in this space, doing things and just what you feel like you’ve gotten out of it.
Ken Rector: [01:03:05] Well it was kind of funny because again, like I mentioned before, when I quit coaching the boys, nobody believed it. Everybody thought well, you’ll be back coach, and you know next year or whenever. And I’m like, no, I’m not. You know? And I just, so I’ve been friends with Zach Jackson. He was friends with cousins of mine and I’ve known him for a really long time.
And I just happened to see him one day that summer. And he’s like, Hey, what are you going to do? You know, with all your time next year. And I’m like, well, I don’t know. He says, well we should start a podcast. What if you don’t know, Zack works for The Athletic. He covers the Browns. He’s done radio, he has a podcast with Andre Knott very successful in his own way through social media and everything else.
[01:04:00] And he said, I’m serious. You know, there there’s nothing available right now for high school basketball. He said the newspapers, radio shit. They’re not, they’re not covering it. They don’t really have a voice. He said I think we could do something, just just a way to stay involved.
And he had the equipment. He lived about a mile from my house. So he said, yeah, let’s do it. You know? And we came up with the on the bench name and I really enjoyed it because I felt like it was a way again, to give back to the coaching community, what had been given to me. Second of all, I thought it was an incredible way.
I felt bad for the lack of coverage that high school programs get now. And I thought if we can have a coach on to give them [01:05:00] 30 minutes to tell us about their kids, their program, what they want their program to stand for and the opportunity for them to tell parents booster club members, administration Hey, Listen to this podcast, I’m out there supporting and promoting our school and our program.
I thought that that was something that would be a nice thing for every school to have the opportunity to be on. And okay. It was really rewarding for me also to be able to stay involved in the game to be able to talk to coaches and share some things I mentioned before I really enjoyed when coaches used to get together and just talk about things for a while, and this was a way to do that.
And it’s kind of slowed down a little bit since I’ve been coaching the girls. And of course this time of year, it was always difficult because Zach’s real job is covering the Browns, but [01:06:00] I really enjoyed it. I mean, there wasn’t a time that I came home from talking to a coach, whether it was a veteran coach or a new coach that I didn’t feel good about the opportunity that was given in maybe I’m still looking to kind of affirm maybe the job that I did as far as it’s always nice. When you hear somebody has a similar philosophy that you do. And so I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot out of it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:06:33] The thing that I’ve enjoyed about it is since I’m not coaching anymore, one of the things I always say that I loved about coaching was just sitting in the coaches office after practice or after games and just talking to your buddies about basketball.
And that’s one of the things that I really, really miss. And you start thinking about what a podcast can be and what it is is I get to have conversations with coaches. At all levels of the game from grassroots, [01:07:00] AAU coaches to high school coaches, to college coaches, and then we’ve had some different NBA people that have come on and it’s just to be able to pick those people’s brains and have those coaches office.
Conversations with people for me has been incredibly valuable and just a blast. I mean, I just love, as you described, just sitting there and being able to being able to pick people’s brains and have those conversations about basketball that I just didn’t get any other way that I used to get out of coaching.
And then the second thing that I think is interesting that you mentioned, and it’s so true is. The lack of coverage in terms of local media for high school sports. And clearly there are different outlets that are doing, whether it’s putting stuff on social media and there’s still some coverage, but there certainly isn’t the coverage that there might’ve been back when you and I were.
Playing in high school basketball where you had two or three reporters from the Cleveland plain dealer or the Akron beacon journal that were just on the high school beat [01:08:00] and brokering and knowing the teams and all that stuff. And, and now like you want to find information like good luck. You want to find a high school basketball box score.
Good luck. If you know where to find one of those, you’re a lot smarter than I am. Cause every time I go to try to look for something, it’s almost impossible to find anymore. Whereas I know you were probably the same as me, like growing up. That was the first thing I did on Saturday morning or Sunday morning, it was get up and scour the box scores and look at which teams won and who scored what points.
And so to be able to provide some of that in some small way, I think has gotta be for a guy like you who’s grown up in is a lifer, has to be incredibly satisfying to be able to just. Provide that coverage at least to some degree that you and I probably took for granted when we were kids,
Ken Rector: [01:08:44] You know, you’re right.
And two things that, along those same lines I had a parent tell me one time where we had, we had that community’s coach on and he was able to talk about his kids a little bit. [01:09:00] And I had a parent and all he did was mention Johnny Smith is a returning guard for us.
And we’re really looking forward to what he’s going to bring to the table this year. And I had a parent tell me that that was one of their greatest highlights was hearing someone else on any type of media outlet mentioned their kid’s name. Cause they could remember their parents listening to a game on the radio and how excited they get when.
You know Rudy Pikarski said something about that was Johnny Smith scoring two corrects just hearing the name out there really meant a lot to them. And I was really surprised when we did the podcast, I guess I wasn’t surprised, but I guess I was pleasantly pleased at the feedback we would get from younger coaches and I mean, coaches that were just [01:10:00] entering into the teaching profession that wanted to be involved in coaching and the number of listeners that we had in that area that were really getting a lot out of it. I mean, they were getting a lot of things from coaches, the different coaches that we had on there who had different philosophies, styles, ideas, and we’re not afraid to share them.
You know, we had feedback from people that were sitting there and had a little notebook and they would keeping notes of everything from what Dave Close had to say, or TK Griffith had to say, I mean, it was really happy with it. I guess
Mike Klinzing: [01:10:41] That’s one of the things that I think has been really satisfying on our end too, is to be able to send something out. You’re talking into the microphone. And clearly you’re hoping that what you do is going to find that audience. But when you hear from people who really do appreciate what you’re doing, and they send you a message, whether it’s [01:11:00] an email or they hit you on social media, or they.
Pick up the phone or it’s people that that say, Hey, I listened to this episode and I really got a lot out of that. Or boy I, I liked listening to this coach because it’s somebody that I know, but I didn’t know that about them. That’s one of the things that’s really the most satisfying about what it is that we do.
Let’s wrap it up here with a question that’s kind of been one that’s become. My standard bear at the end of episodes lately. And it’s one that I think really gets to the heart of who you are as a coach. So, first question or first part of the question is what do you see as your biggest challenge moving forward as the head girls coach at Barberton high school, and then number two, what is the biggest joy that you get every day from waking up and thinking about getting to go in and coach,
Ken Rector: [01:11:48] The first part is just developing the program.
I mean, it’s from the bottom to the top you know, when I took over [01:12:00] the program, we had a third grade team. We had part of a sixth grade team. We didn’t have any fifth graders that were involved and to really go out there and, and find someone that could lead to youth program and to.
You know, get enough kids and the girls in the sixth grade, fifth grade, fourth grade to have three teams and to kind of build that. I think that’s our biggest challenge right now. I mean I’m not going, I know when I was a boys coach, I felt like, okay, I’m going to do this job forever.
I know I’m the girl’s coach. I’m not going to do this job forever. You know? But I want to make sure that whenever I am no longer the girl’s coach here, that the program is in a upward trajectory. I want to leave a stamp on it from there. And I think that’s our biggest challenge. I think we’ve got to get more [01:13:00] girls involved. We’re making progress. We’ve got some great people that are working in our youth programs. And I think that I look at that as my greatest challenge and part two, I forgot what the second part was.
Mike Klinzing: [01:13:12] Greatest joy? The greatest joy
Ken Rector: [01:13:14] I’ll tell you the greatest joy is.
I know when I go into the gym, that those girls are going to be happy to be together. You know, I always tell the story that you know, I I’m still not, but I was never one of those guys where, okay. Practice starts at three o’clock. Well, we’re going to spend the first 15 minutes of practice stretching, getting loose those kinds of things to me, it was like, Hey, you do that on your own time.
When I walk into a gym at three o’clock, we’re practicing, we’re getting after it that kind of thing. And with the girls, when I kinda went into it like, okay, that’s going to be the same thing. Well, a couple of girls came to talk to me [01:14:00] and they said, coach, listen, we need to stretch.
And I’m like, well, then go ahead. You can stretch in your own time.
Mike Klinzing: [01:14:07] No, no, no. We need our stretch bands. We need to stretch. We need that 15 minutes. To stretch. And then once we’ve done that, we’ll do whatever you want us to do and I’m kind of still pretty skeptical. Well then I I’m kind of watching them and that 15 minutes and I, they need that.
They need that from a social aspect, you know? Cause that’s why they’re playing, they’re not playing for the glory. Most of them are not playing to get a scholarship. You know, they’re playing because they really enjoy being around each other. They enjoy being around people that like the game like they do, and they need that time from a social standpoint.
And so the joy I get is [01:15:00] actually watching them during that time. Cause there’s not one of them stretching, they got the band laying there. And they act like they’re doing something, but they’re not stretching, but what they are doing is they’re clearing the air from getting rid of all the gossip that happened in the school day.
They’re getting that is such a vital part of who they are, but they get in a circle, they talk it all out, they get that 15 and they’ve been true to their word. You know, they take those 15 minutes to kind of decompress the school day and then they’re ready to go. And the joy I get is just kind of watching him during that time.
I look forward to it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:15:42] Yeah, that’s awesome. I think that’s one of the things that obviously I’ve coached both boys and girls over the course of my coaching career. And I think that when you talk about what you get with the girls versus the boys, there’s definitely a different level of connection when. A girls team is going right.
And [01:16:00] there’s just a bond that I don’t think you ever necessarily get as a whole group on the boys side. It’s just, it’s just different. And I appreciate you sharing that because I think it’s something that coaches who have had both experiences, I think can definitely, definitely relate to. I want to wrap things up there can give you a chance before we get out to let people know where they can find out more about you find out more about your program, where they can reach out to you.
If they just have a basketball question, they want to talk some hoops with you. How can they find you? And then I’ll jump back in and wrap up the episode
Ken Rector: [01:16:31] Well, the easiest this way, obviously you can always email me through the school email address, which is Krector@barbertonschools.org. And we also have a lady magic’s Twitter page, which you can find out information about our program there.
And of course we, we still have the, on the bench podcast Twitter page and you know, back episodes, they that’s the other thing about the podcast we found out. It was incredible to me the number of [01:17:00] people that go back and relisten to different episodes that we have. So all our past episodes are still available and still there are some incredible coaches that are on there that represent the best of the best of high school basketball that are not afraid to share everything that they feel like has been a success to them.
So I’m easy to get ahold of. You can always avoid it. You know, I started to say, you can always come watch us play, but not this year, but hopefully next year. So, but absolutely Mike, I really appreciate it. What you’re doing for the game is is awesome. And thanks, I’ve enjoyed it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:17:37] Awesome. I really appreciate that. And the kind words are always very much appreciated. And like I said, I think for you coming on here and jumping on and being a part of what we’re trying to do, I can’t thank you enough for doing that and to our audience out there. If you haven’t. Listen to Ken’s podcast on the bench, make sure you go and do that.
As he said, one of the things that’s most interesting [01:18:00] about this format is you can go back and listen to something that was a conversation between coaches a year or two ago. And it can be just as relevant today as it was when it was first recorded. So please go back and give Ken’s podcasts to listen.
After you listen to this one. Go and pick out an episode of his podcast and check that out the On the Bench Pdcast with Ken’s partner Zach. So let’s wrap things up there. I really appreciate you joining us tonight, Ken, and to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode.