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Twitter – @CoachLK22
Liz Kay is the Girls’ Varsity Head Basketball Coach at Wahconah High School in Dalton, Massachusetts. Kay has won over 100 games in her seven years as the Warriors Head Coach. Under her leadership. Wahconah has reached five Western Massachusetts tournaments, and a pair of title games in 2018 and 2020.
Kay has worked at Snow Valley Basketball Camps as well as the Jay Bilas Camp in June of 2021.
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Have pen and paper nearby as you listen to this episode with Liz Kay, Head Girls Varsity Basketball Coach at Wahconah High School in Dalton Massachusetts.
What We Discuss with Liz Kay
- Growing up a Duke fan
- What it’s like to be married to your assistant coach
- Her experiences growing up as a female player
- The benefits of being a multi-sport athlete
- How Liz builds relationships with kids that help her coach them better
- Learning as a young coach about how much preparation was required to be successful
- Focusing on keywords to make practice and communication more efficient
- How her high school players pass along the culture to younger players throughout her entire program
- Getting youth players to attend high school games
- Tips for building a quality staff
- Dividing roles for assistant coaches and helping them to develop in the profession
- Learning from other coaches at camps and clinics
- Her experiences working at Snow Valley Basketball Camps
- Building a defensive minded, close-knit team
- The 1-3-1 zone trap that she uses with her team and why it is so effective
- How she utilizes film for herself and how she uses it to teach the game to her players
- The adoption of live streaming by high schools and its impact on the game
- How she and her team survived and thrived during the COVID season this past year
- Helping kids to become part of something bigger than themselves
- The emotion and joy of coaching
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THANKS, LIZ KAY
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TRANSCRIPT FOR LIZ KAY – WAHCONAH (MA) HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS’ BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 486
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my cohost Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast, the head girls basketball coach at Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton, Massachusetts, Liz Kay, Liz. Welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast.
Liz Kay: [00:00:15] Thanks. Happy to be here.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:16] We are excited to have you on and get a chance to dive into all the things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball. I want to start out by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about some of your first experiences with the game of basketball.
Liz Kay: [00:00:30] Well, when I was a kid, I actually grew up in Durham, North Carolina.
I’ve lost my accent along the ways I’ve been up north for a long time now, but my dad is a professor at duke and my step-mom is as well. So I was. Born and raised in my an every duke item you can possibly imagine. Had also had season tickets to the games and grew up going with my dad. And that’s sort of the way, you know, you gotta decide by third grade, if you’re a duke fan, a Carolina fan or an NC state fan, and you don’t show up at school the next day, if your team got [00:01:00] some bad news for you is,
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:01] oh,
Jason Sunkle: [00:01:02] well, we’re both
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:03] UNC fans.
Liz Kay: [00:01:06] bandwagon. Are you a bandwagon guys? Cause that doesn’t really count.
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:10] I’ve been, I’ve been a Carolina fan since the, I guess probably the 81, the, the, the season where president Reagan got shot before the final game. And I’m not sure what or why. And then when Michael Jordan showed up in North Carolina, it cemented my my love for North Carolina.
So I I’ve, I’ve grown too. I probably had more more of a distaste for duke earlier in my life when I was a more rabid North Carolina fan. Now I would say I’m a far more casual North Carolina fan. So I’ve, I’ve tempered my I’ve tempered, my distaste for duke, which probably ran it, which probably ran at its hottest during the Bobby Hurley, Christian later era at duke.
So, which is probably your favorite era.
Liz Kay: [00:01:54] You know, that’s fair. I, I, it’s hard to like them if you’re not a duke fan, but I, I yeah, that was, that was [00:02:00] back in my early high school days. So,
Jason Sunkle: [00:02:02] and I was born, I was born in 86, so I wasn’t a huge, like my first real exposure to UNC was like, my dad had VC, like videotaped all like UNC games when Jordan was there.
And like, that was my first real introduction to like college basketball when I was like six or seven. I remember watching. You went. So that’s the only real reason like I became a UNC fan was then even though he wasn’t even on the team when I was watching the games, he was playing in the NBA, but that’s kind of where I, my love for UNC and I still like UNC.
I mean, I wouldn’t say that I’m a diehard but I appreciate you and see, so that that’s just me. So I’m not early,
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:39] early exposure plays a big role. 100%. It’s true.
Liz Kay: [00:02:46] We would sit, we would sit in the kitchen. My dad would get the tickets in the mail and my brother and I would have a draft of games we wanted to go to.
And, you know, it was funny because I had no idea at that time that, you know, there were college students that were [00:03:00] doing other things before basketball games and we’d go to the game and, you know, my dad would walk me the other way. I had no idea that, you know, the Cameron crazies were probably being crazy for several hours before they got in there, you know, but that’s all I knew.
And obviously there’s no, there was no MBA or anything. So I went to school with coach K’s daughter and. You know, it was just, it was it was, it was pretty wild growing up in that. What’s your favorite
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:23] memory from a game that you were at in person?
Liz Kay: [00:03:27] Ironically, it would probably be the 1995 Carolina game.
And that was the last time that duke did not make the NCAA tournament. Until this year I had. And it was when Jeff Capel hit. Half-court buzzer beater to send it to overtime. They ended up losing an overtime, but that was the year D duke was terrible and Carolina was really, really good. And so my dad sent my brother and I out of the game cause he didn’t use this, like whatever you guys can go.
And it was awesome.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:55] Was that the year that coach K was, was out, was that the year? [00:04:00] Okay. All right. That’s what I thought. That’s what I thought. Yeah. It’s interesting. I think, like I said, the early exposure and what your parents sort of, the way that they steer you ultimately probably I think has a large effect on the teams and players that you grew up liking.
Who was your favorite player that you like to root for?
Liz Kay: [00:04:19] I love JJ Redick. I love John shier. But if you go way back, I, I, I was like in love with mark gallery at nine years old and Johnny Dawkins and those guys, I mean, that, that was sort of my first real exposure when they lost a Louisville in the 86 championship game, I cried like a little baby.
My dad had gone to the game. So he was out of town and I was just devastated for like days, you know? So it’s kind of funny looking back because you know, now it’s like, okay, you know, have a little perspective, Liz,
Mike Klinzing: [00:04:50] but you know what, when you’re a kid, it’s, it’s totally, it’s totally different. Your fandom is completely different.
I’ll remember when Jason, again, wasn’t born when this game took [00:05:00] place, but the Cleveland Browns in 1981 when they were the cardiac kids and we lost a playoff game to the Raiders where Brian Sipe threw an interception in the end zone. And it was a game was like played it, it was like 10 degrees or five degrees or something.
And Cleveland stadium and the whole season had been so exciting. And I think I was 11 years old at the time. And I did the same thing. I went behind. I remember sitting behind our sofa after that game ended and just crying and being in tears. And like you said, you look back on that. You’re like, W, you know, wow, why was I was I that invested in it, but yet when you’re a kid, when you get that involved and you feel like you have that connection to a particular team, for whatever reason.
And I think as we get older, we have more interests than we understand, and sort of are able to gain a wider perspective when we were a kid. That just means everything to you. It really does.
Liz Kay: [00:05:52] Yeah. That really does. And that, you know, it’s funny too, because now, now coaching, you know, nothing gets me to act like a little kid [00:06:00] more than coaching sometimes too.
I mean, I don’t sleep, you know, win or lose sometimes. And I, you know, I go into that, you know, week long depression when the season ends and all of the things that, you know, in perspective are really, probably not that big of a deal, but that’s why, you know, that’s why you do it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:06:16] For sure. I’ve always told people that the, what always gets me is when I think about my own.
Experiences now as an adult and when I’m coaching a game and primarily, so I was an assistant varsity basketball coach for, I don’t know, the first 14 or 15 years of my, my teaching career. So now that’s been probably, I don’t know, it’s been 12 or 13 years, maybe since since I did that. And so since that time, I’ve only really coached my kids, whether it’s in rec basketball or travel or AAU.
And so I have two perspectives. I have a perspective as a parent coach, and then I have a perspective of a parent sitting in the stands when I’m watching games. And when I’m a parent sitting in the stands, watching games, I want [00:07:00] my kids to do well. I hope they win, but I’ll just sit and I’ll watch the game and I’ll enjoy getting an opportunity to watch him play.
And that game ends. And five minutes later, I’m done with it. I don’t, it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter to me whether they won or lost. I just, you know, again, I’m hope I’m hoping for my kids, that they, that they’ve won the game, but if they don’t, I’m not losing sleep over it at all. It conversely. When I’m coaching their teams and we lose a game, I feel exactly the same way you do where I go home.
And I think about it and I brood over it and I try to figure out what I could have done differently and how come this happened and what can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And how can we get better and all these things. And yet when I’m a parent, I don’t think about any of those things. And so it’s interesting.
The life of a coach is one. I think if you are somebody who cares deeply about it, which most of us do that, those things stick with you wins losses, trying to figure out how to get better and improve. And it sounds like you’re right in that that’s right in your wheel house for sure.
Liz Kay: [00:07:58] Absolutely. I mean, I, [00:08:00] you know, and it it’s a pie.
Doesn’t help me that I’m married to my assistant coach. So two of us, we clicked on that. No, you know, we, we go scout and it’s date night, you know? And so we’re like, all right, where’s the nearest pub we can stop in before we go watch a game. And he, you know, and he was a boys’ coach before we met. And and then he gave it up when his daughter was born and then he kind of got back into it when we got together.
And it’s just so funny because, you know, we don’t really get a break from it. I mean, he’ll, he’ll stay home and watch film, you know, and before I even get home and he’s already got it all broken down and we’re looking at things and I’m calling, like, we’re not going to take a break or, but it’s pretty cool.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:37] When you grew up, did you go to any women’s games?
Liz Kay: [00:08:41] Yeah. You know, we went to my dad, we’d go to a lot of women’s games. And that’s when, especially when I was younger, because he had so much more access, you know, you, you could sit right on the floor. And I remember, you know, my dad was more worried that, that my brother and I were going to run out onto the floor in the middle of the game.
Cause we would be so excited and we’d see the [00:09:00] mascots, you know, we wanted to hang out with the mascots. And so you have a lot more free reign with the women’s game, you know, and the duke team was, was pretty good. And then you know, they were okay when I was a kid and then I’ve actually gotten more into the women’s game probably in the last 10 years or so than I ever have been.
Mike Klinzing: [00:09:17] When you were growing up, what were the opportunities for you as a player, as an athlete around your community, in terms of how much access was there for you as a female player, to be able to just get an opportunity to play
Liz Kay: [00:09:36] it season by season? You know, I mean, I did. You know, intermurals at school, starting in fifth grade.
And we had the YMCA where you could start younger than that, but it’s, you know, AAU didn’t really exist. Certainly sort of town, you know, town leagues, but realistically, every, you know, every kid, I was trying every sport, you know, I was playing soccer one season. I was, you know, playing, playing [00:10:00] softball or, you know, T-ball, and then I was playing basketball.
But you know, nobody took things too seriously at that time, you know, it was kinda like, you know, just go play, put a, put a reversible Jersey on and go play whatever sport it was going to be that day or that season
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:16] was basketball. Always your favorite or was something else when you were younger that superseded it.
Liz Kay: [00:10:22] Basketball was always my favorite. I was a better soccer player, but I, I, you know, I will never forget my me and my dad, like I said, he. He was such a diehard. He paced the floor downstairs until three in the morning if duke lost or we’d have, we were the ones that had everybody over for the ACC tournament and all the kids would fill out a bracket, you know, and we’d throw $5 in.
And we thought that was the most amount of money in the world. And then we’d go out in the driveway and all the kids were pretending to be whatever team they were and we’d have our own bracket, you know? So it was more of a neighborhood social thing than anything else that sort of got me into loving it.
[00:11:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:11:01] And once you decided that basketball was something that you wanted to pursue as an athlete, did you, what was your, what was your methodology for improving for getting better? Was it just continuing to just play, play in the neighborhood or as you got older, did you start to kind of hone in on, Hey, if I want to, if I want to be a good player, I’ve got to really work on some different skills and obviously anybody who’s listening today, who’s.
Young can’t necessarily relate to what the situation was when we were growing up, where you didn’t have trainers and AAU, like you described, it was a different, it was a different era. So just, what did you do to improve yourself as a player?
Liz Kay: [00:11:38] You know, ironically, I mean, I’m not the, I wasn’t the fastest kid.
I mean, I’m only five, five. I was not, my job was to distribute the ball. I never wanted to go in the land of the trees, so I knew I had to be a pretty good shooter. You know, but realistically you do what you can control. Right? So for me, it was, I played with a lot of really good [00:12:00] players collegiate players as it turned out and some of the division one level, and you know, it, for me, it was okay.
I’m going to be the best communicator. You know, I’m going to give the most high fives. I’m going to distribute the ball. I’m going to try to be the best defender I can be. But realistically. You know, I was not the most talented player. And so all of the controllables are things that, you know, kids don’t understand are just so, so important.
And I think that that influence from, especially from my dad and even coaches, I had said, you know, listen, you’re not going to play a lot, unless you can do these things. So get good at those things, you know, you, that’s what your job is ultimately going to be. And are you okay with being a role player?
Because if you’re not, you’re just going to be miserable. You know? So and I had to work my way up. Certainly in that came from, you know, being the last kid on the bench to, you know, fighting for a starting spot and then you get the starting spot. And then the next thing, you know, you’re back on the bench and, you know, a lot of [00:13:00] resilience and a lot of tears and all of those things, but ultimately, you know, you have to be responsible for your own communication, kind of figuring out what you’re good at.
Mike Klinzing: [00:13:10] Did you accept that right away when your coaches came to you with that? Thought that, Hey, you’re not going to be the star. We have other players that are better than you. Cause a lot of times our ego, especially when we’re younger, tends to maybe get in the way and you think, well, Hey, I’m going to show you that I can be the best player.
Or did you kind of realize as you were going through it that, Hey, this is the way I got to go. Did you accept it right away or does something that came to you, you had to come to accept, as you just kind of got into your high school career.
Liz Kay: [00:13:38] I had an ego that did not match my ability. I, I mean, I, you know, you have such a distorted point of view as to what you’re capable of, at least at that age.
And you know, it was incredibly upsetting at times to hear it, to hear things like that. And then, you know, luckily I had some coaches along the way and not just basketball, but in general, that just [00:14:00] basically said, Hey, you know, you need to learn to be a little bit more. Self-aware a little more mature and let’s rip the bandaid.
I’m not gonna. I’m not going to tell you how great you are. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work to those goals, but you also need to be a little bit more aware of where you are and where in order to get where you want to go.
Mike Klinzing: [00:14:19] What did it mean to you to be a multi-sport athlete? What did you learn?
Do you think that somebody today an athlete, because a lot of times we know today that it gets more and more difficult every year for kids to be multi-sport athletes, even at the, even at the lower levels. So what do you think you took away from growing up kind of as a multi-sport athlete that benefited you again, maybe in basketball, but maybe benefited you in another sport.
What do you think the overall benefits were to you as both an athlete and as a person to be a part of multiple sports growing up?
Liz Kay: [00:14:52] Well, you know, I’m a biology teacher now. So if I could, I could argue the merits of training, different muscle groups and all those kinds of [00:15:00] things, but. Realistically you taking on a different role depending on what you’re doing.
You know, so, you know, I was a center midfielder in soccer where, you know, I was probably one of the most important people on the field. And then you go into basketball and you’re, and I wasn’t the most important player on the floor and taking on different roles and responsibilities within a group of people is something that you’re going to have to do your entire life.
And so for me, not only that, but responding to different coaching and different players on your team and trying to maneuver, maneuver that as a teenager is difficult in and of itself. But something that, you know, at the end of the day, that’s going to be one of the biggest lifelong lessons you could have.
Mike Klinzing: [00:15:42] What is, what is a character trait of a coach or coaches that you enjoyed playing for when you were a player that you remember from your time when you were younger?
Liz Kay: [00:15:56] Well, I don’t know how much I appreciated it at the time. The [00:16:00] the brutal honesty of my high school soccer coach was something that I grew to appreciate more than any other aspects, because you know, the communication piece generally at this point is going through, you know, parents contacting coaches rather than kids talking to coaches.
And those relationships between players and coaches are just so essential. And I think if the more honest you are the more respect you have for each other. And to me, that was one of the most influential coaches I ever had.
Mike Klinzing: [00:16:30] When you think about that for yourself as a coach, is that something that when you first started coaching was easy for you because you had kind of learned that lesson as a player?
Was it something that was difficult for you to do initially and you got better at it? How would you describe your ability to be brutally honest with players over the course of your career?
Liz Kay: [00:16:53] Well, I think for a long time, I believe that I could be brutally honest, as long as they knew that I loved him. You know, I spent a [00:17:00] lot of time navigating relationships with, with my players and, and hoping that they know that I care about them deeply off the court, but that said, you know, every kid is different and, and I had to, to really, it’s taken me a long time to learn that, you know, just because you love them and care about them doesn’t mean that, that communication is going to be the same for every kid.
And sometimes actually, because of that relationship and that care, it actually can sometimes make it more difficult for kids you know, because they don’t want to disappoint you because they care about you as well. And so finding that balance has been sort of a 20 year process for me, actually.
Mike Klinzing: [00:17:41] When you think about those, how do you know with a kid, what approach is the right approach or better yet? How long does it take you to get to know that kid before you feel pretty confident that you know, the right way to approach them with something [00:18:00] difficult or with just the best way to coach them?
How long do you feel like you have to know a kid before you kind of have your finger on the pulse of what makes them tick?
Liz Kay: [00:18:09] I think it depends on the kid, but I would say that I rely heavily on my upperclassmen to sort of. You know, relay some of that information. I mean, you know, I meet with upperclassmen a lot.
They know a lot about what’s going on at school before I do. And so if somebody is having a bad day and there’s justified reasons for that, you know, you might go easier on somebody and some kids want to be coached hard. But also a lot of that honestly, is watching them play other sports. I mean, we go to fall games, we go to spring games, we’d go see kids play other sports.
We go to AAU and see how they interact with their teammates. You know, and sometimes that’s actually where you learn the most is when you’re actually not in season with them. You know, maybe it’s at when I’m running my own summer camp and we’ve got little kids there and all my high school players are working in the camp.
And that’s really the time when that power [00:19:00] dynamic kind of goes away. And you’re able to actually sit down and have real conversations about who they are and where they come from and what’s going on in their lives.
Mike Klinzing: [00:19:09] Is that something, when you’re in season, do you set aside time to formally have those kinds of conversations with a kid?
In other words, are you sort of scheduling like a weekly to you know, once every two week sit down for a couple of minutes, Hey, I want to just talk to you in my office, or I want to, I’m going to grab you on the floor or is it more of a, day-to-day sort of just interaction casually where you’re just getting to know the kids by talking to them while you’re stretching or while you’re warming up or while they’re standing in line for a drill or that kind of thing.
How would you describe your style of getting to know kids?
Liz Kay: [00:19:43] Yeah, I mean, you know, we, I do a decent number of scheduling meetings, but the reality is that that sometimes those feel a little bit forced, especially early on, you know, I mean, we have a really distinct. Practice routine. And, and you know, one of the nice things is that when, when we are doing [00:20:00] the dynamic stretching and all that kind of stuff, I can go kind of make sure I check in with everybody.
But additionally, I have four assistant coaches who run various aspects of practice, and that allows me time to pull kids aside, if I can observe really positive things or if they look like they’re having, you know, having a day. So a lot of that, I think the more natural it is, the more likely they are to communicate with me.
And the more likely I am to kind of gauge how they’re doing. Yeah.
Mike Klinzing: [00:20:27] I think sometimes you can run into difficulty where it’s in a formal setting and then when. The kid knows it’s a meeting before they even walk in the door, they kind of already have their guard up who what’s this what’s this meeting about.
I think it takes a long time to kind of break that down. If you are going to be a coach that uses those kinds of formal meetings, I think it takes a while to be able to make sure that the kids are comfortable with that kind of style. We’ve talked to so many coaches lives that just do exactly what you described, where they’re walking around and they’re getting to know them, and they’re doing it in times where it’s informal and it’s not [00:21:00] where, Hey, I’m trying to get to know you better.
It’s just, we’re getting to know each other. Just the way two people would outside of a player, coach, coach relationship. It’s just, I’m, we’re having conversations. We’re talking. It might be 30 seconds here. It might be two minutes there. It might be a hello and a fist bump in the hallway. It might be whatever.
And that’s really how you get to know your kids. And then as you said, being able to observe them in different, you know, in different arenas, whether that be another sport, whether that be their summer AAU, whatever it might be. Let’s go back to your decision to become a coach. When did you know at what point.
In your life, did you realize, decide no that you want it to be a coach?
Liz Kay: [00:21:38] I didn’t, I actually, I sort of fell into teaching and therefore fell into coaching. And I taught in Boston my first year out of college and happened to. Meet up with a guy named Paul Mahoney who was sort of an infamous legendary guy in, in the area and happened to coach at the high school that I was at.
And he said, Hey, you want to [00:22:00] volunteer for the year? And I said, sure. You know, it was after school and I could hop in and you know, it was, it was incredibly humbling because as a player, you know, you kinda know your position and you think, you know, everything, and then you realize you don’t know anything.
And he basically said, you know, Hey, do you, is this something you want to pursue? And I said, absolutely. And he said, great, okay, you’re going to learn how to scout. You’re going to learn how to do film. You’re going to learn how to do breakdown drills. You’re going to learn how to do all these things.
And, you know, I was 21 years old. I mean, I didn’t even know what was going on. Much less how to teach. Right. So. I fell into that. And then the next thing, you know, I I’m, I’m changing teaching jobs and he actually, he wrote me a glowing recommendation, which shocking. And I was my first head coaching job was at 22 and I had no idea what I was doing.
But luckily I have always managed to surround myself with people wiser, older, more talented than I am. So that’s really why I’ve ended [00:23:00] up sort of where I am today is as best I can.
Mike Klinzing: [00:23:03] What’s something, when you look back on your first experiences as a coach, what’s something that you had no idea that coaches spent so much time doing when you were a player?
Liz Kay: [00:23:18] Absolutely preparing. I mean, I had no idea that people went and scouted games. I had no idea that in addition to just knowing personnel that they knew tendencies. You know, how to attack various plays. I mean, I didn’t even know what plays to run much less how to defend them and quick hitters and time and game management and those kinds of things.
I mean, you know, I was like, okay, well I can teach a kid to dribble and I can teach your kid to shoot, you know, but that’s just the patterns beyond the individual skill work were a whole nother level for me. So do you
Mike Klinzing: [00:23:56] think that player development, and this was kind of going to lead into my [00:24:00] next question, but based on your answer, do you think player development was something that you were pretty good at from the beginning?
Or was there something else that you felt like about coaching that felt natural? That you’re like, Hey, even though I might not be a strong over here in these areas, this feels right to me because I’m good at this. And then conversely, I guess the part that you really needed to learn was the X’s and O’s and the systems, and just how to be a head coach, but what’s something that you were good at, right from the start.
Liz Kay: [00:24:30] I think connecting with kids individually and not just, not just skill work-wise and fundamentals wise, but you know, trying to figure out the ways to push their buttons, to make them better versus, you know, bringing them down. Because again, I mean a high school girl that they’re having a hard day as it is, you know?
So finding those ways to make them feel really good while also pushing them beyond their capabilities, I think is always something I’ve been pretty good at. So I was always the one that was [00:25:00] sent to, you know, okay. So-and-so looks like they’re having a day. Why don’t you go spend some time doing skill work?
Because I also know that you’re going to change their mentality for the day.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:11] So, how do you do that? Is that just showing a personal interest? Is that just your ability to carry on a conversation, relate to kids that, that age, what do you think about your personality or your style enabled you and continue to enable you to connect with kids in such a way that, that they can, that you can kind of turn their day around?
Liz Kay: [00:25:31] You know, a lot of that was just conversations while, while they’re doing things, you know, if they’re shooting or if they’re dribbling or if they’re doing whatever defensive stance or whatever it is, If they’re distracted by doing those other things, they’re also going to be that much more honest about how they’re doing and what’s going on, you know, versus the formal come to my office, have a meeting, you know, then, then it’s like, okay, well, what did I do?
Why am I in the principal’s office? You know? So it’s a lot of, it’s just a lot of [00:26:00] humanizing people, you know, realizing that they have a life off of the court and frankly they need to humanize me as, as well. You know, I have good days and bad days, like everybody else, not to say that you need to go into detail, but you know, kids can tell too.
And, and again, I think that honesty of going back and just saying yet, you know what, I’m having a bad day too. Let’s how are we going to, how are we going to turn this around?
Mike Klinzing: [00:26:21] Once you’re able to get the kids turned around and be able to have that kind of impact on them. I think that what you see, and this is something that I think has become, it’s become more clear in recent years.
I think if you go back to the time. When we were talking about off the top of the podcast, you’re going back to the late eighties, early nineties, you had so much more of a, that sort of command style of coaching where, Hey, you’re going to do it this way. Why am I going to do it this way? Because I said so, and now there’s so much more of explaining the why behind what you’re trying to do and trying to build those relationships.
And how much time do you spend when you’re [00:27:00] talking to kids. And again, this could be individually, this could be as a team. How much time do you spend sharing the why behind a drill or behind an offense or behind this is the way we do things when we’re going on the road to a game compared to maybe when you first started,
Liz Kay: [00:27:18] you know, so much of, I think of what I’ve come to realize is I’m not as important as I think I am, you know, so.
Routines and explaining the why, you know, a lot of the time, I, I don’t want to do a lot of talking and practice, but we focus a lot on keywords. So once I’ve explained the why behind something once or twice, and then we kind of get into it, then I’ll say, Hey guys, what’s the why? And they’ll give me a three word answer and almost in unison.
I mean, they know. The details behind the why, if they can give me that one to three word answer. And so we focus a lot on those key words and that way I know that they get it rather than re-explaining it [00:28:00] in extreme
Mike Klinzing: [00:28:01] detail. So I think that’s so, so important. I’ve always said that that’s one of the things that, especially in the years, since I’ve gotten away from coaching at the varsity level where I’m coaching my kids, whether it’s a recreation team or a new team, or a travel team where you might only have one or two practices a week for an hour.
So I’ll find myself explaining a drill once and then we’ll come back to it a month later and I’ll have to explain the whole thing again. And so it’s a five minute explanation every time versus back when we were coaching in high school. And I was an assistant coach, you’d say, okay, we’re going to get into the alley drill.
And everyone knew exactly what that was and it took. Two seconds to get it set up. And now a lot of times when I’m coaching, I have to go back and say, all right, we’re gonna explain. Remember, this is the one where we do this and that. And it’s so important. I think that vocabulary, and as you said, to be able to have your kids understand the why behind it and to be able to share, okay, you can ask them a question and they can immediately come up with those three key words that enable everybody [00:29:00] to know, okay, this is what we have to do.
And this is how we have to do it. Do you share, how do you get those things across? Do you have a written document that you share in terms of like vocabulary and lingo and things that you use? Is it more done verbally? How do you get everybody on that same page when it comes to a common language that you use in your program?
Liz Kay: [00:29:22] I would say it’s more verbal than anything else. And I think part of the reason for that is because the upperclassmen know that lingo throughout their time and encouraging kids to be vocal is such a key, a huge thing to me. I mean, if we’re on the court and. You know, if I get, I get mad all the time.
Cause I said, you know, you guys can control your communication, but if I gave them all their, their phones, they would text each other in three seconds and say exactly what I want them to say. So you know that when the upperclassmen speak up and you’ve got, you know, five or six kids that know your three words or know your two words or whatever then that trickles down to the younger kids.
And the reality is that, you know, when we get into a game, they’re [00:30:00] the same words I’m using. I’m just yelling from the sidelines. So they know those, those sort of triggers that are saying, this is what coach wants us to emphasize. And I don’t need to use it to use a timeout to get there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:30:13] I think that’s really, really critical to being able to communicate, as you said, not only to be efficient with your time and practice.
But to be able to have the opportunity in a game to just share one or two key words, key phrases that any kid can hear, that’s been a part of your program and immediately know, and sort of internalize the concept of what it is that you’re trying to do to me. That’s so, so important. And when you think about that, building that up in your program, how do you do that across the lower levels in your program?
So obviously within your varsity team, you can have the upperclassmen help to bring along the younger players. And you’re talking about it every day and you’re, you’re, you’re living it with your team, but how do you do that with your JV team, with your freshmen team, with [00:31:00] your middle school teams, with your youth teams, how do you get across the things that you want to be able to teach that you want the girls to know when they get to your varsity program?
How do you help to ensure that that goes on at the lower levels in your program?
Liz Kay: [00:31:15] You know, that’s actually probably more communicated by my kids who do a lot of work with the younger groups down to the third graders, down to the kindergarten. A lot of the, a lot of my high school kids actually will go down and coach the kindergarten to third grade, fifth grade house house lead teams.
And, you know, it’s funny because they, not that they’re intentionally doing it, but they’re just teaching them the same things that I’m teaching them. You know? I mean, they, they emphasize the same things and I’m an incredibly defensive oriented coach. You know, and they’ll go to the third grader and say, Hey, you know what, coach K sitting over there and you know what?
She likes more than anything in the world. It’s defense. So if you’re loud and you can be low and you can, you know, communicate and you have high hands on your closeouts, [00:32:00] You know, that’s, what’s gonna, that’s, what’s going to impress her, you know, and it’s so funny because realistically, you know, I’m an old fart.
They, they, they don’t care what I say, but they do care a lot about what those high school kids say, you know? So they’ve been hearing it you know, since they were in third grade. And so all the kids that play for me now that were down there in third grade and they knew who I was, and they were terrified when I walked in the gym to see a third grade game, which by the way, is the best therapy you could ever have.
You know, it really doesn’t come from me as, as much as I would like to believe it does. I think it’s sort of second hand through all the levels of players that I’ve been lucky enough to have.
Mike Klinzing: [00:32:37] I love the fact that you have your varsity players involved in coaching, your younger kids. I say this all the time, that growing up where I did in our community, we had a system like that where the varsity kids would come down and they would coach the younger.
Recreation city teams on Saturdays and they have, okay, this [00:33:00] guy who’s, this varsity player is going to coach this team and this one’s going to coach that team. And I still remember the guys that when I was in third, fourth, fifth, sixth grade, that I remember all my coaches and some of them, I still talk to to this day.
And those are guys that were at that time, probably whatever between five and eight years older than me. And I looked up to those guys tremendously, and then I’d go to the games on Friday or Saturday night or Tuesday night. And. Be like, wow, that’s, you know, that’s my coach or, well, that was the guy we played against last week and I want to someday be like them.
And I always felt like that that aspirational piece for me was so, so important to, as you said earlier, to humanize those kids, that man that’s, it’s not just the guy on the floor. That’s, that’s somebody that I know. And I’d like to be able to do, I’d like to be able to do what they do someday. And then conversely, I will say that when I got to high school, like I loved, I love then being a coach for those younger kids, I had so much fun.
I have so many good memories from that. Both on both ends of it, [00:34:00] both as a player. And then later on as a high school player who was a coach for those younger kids. And I think that it’s in a lot of ways, and it’s not everywhere that people are still doing that in too many places. I think we’ve gotten away from that where.
You know, it’s just now parent coaches and the high school, varsity players, even if the coach is involved and may be trying to help the coaches learn what to teach or whatever. I do think that there’s, there’s something missing that those high school kids bring to the table that whatever, whatever they might be lacking in, I don’t know, whatever you think an adult parent coach brings that a kid can’t, whatever that is, whatever, whatever, whatever that, whatever that is.
I do think that I do think that what the kids bring in enthusiasm and in sharing what being a part of the program is all about to me, that far outweighs whatever the positives are that that apparent coach brings. I just think that more schools, more high school programs would benefit from [00:35:00] having. The high school, varsity kids involved with their youth program, because I think it just creates a situation where kids want to be a part of the high school program, because they’ve seen those kids firsthand and up close.
Do you see that in terms of kids coming to your games?
Liz Kay: [00:35:15] Oh yeah. I mean the younger, the younger kids will do like theme nights and all of that. And I have to say too, I mean, as much as I would love to take credit for that, that’s actually true about all the sports at the school that we’re at, where the youth programs are just so good and they want to have that connection between the younger kids and the older kids.
And, you know, I’ve got some great photographs of my first couple of years where you see these little, third and fourth graders sitting kind of right behind the bench at a playoff game. And then now I’m coaching those kids. And I say, Hey, look at this picture, can you believe how little you were there? You know?
And they say, oh my gosh, I can’t believe you have that. You know? So it’s really cool. And they remember it. I mean, vividly they’ll remember. Those playoff [00:36:00] games. And they said, you know, oh my gosh, this gym is full. I want to play in front of a crowd like this. You know,
Mike Klinzing: [00:36:05] that’s pretty cool. Cool. I, I really think that that’s something that, that aspirational piece to me is so, so important because if you don’t, you know, if you grow up in a community and you don’t have any connection to the program, it just feels like, Hmm.
I mean, it’s, it’s hard to, it’s hard for kids to get excited about a program or being a part of it, or want to be a part of it, or want to work hard to have that as a goal. If they’ve never, if they’ve never seen it, if they haven’t seen the players, if they haven’t gone to a game and we all know that kids today have a lot more options of things that they can do with their time, as opposed to.
Being an eight or nine year old and wanting to go watch a varsity basketball game. It’s a lot easier to do a lot of other things versus back in the day when I was growing up. But I still do think that if you can generate that excitement and get that connection, that you can still get people to the games that only helps you as a high school coach, to be able [00:37:00] to build the kind of program that you want to build.
Another thing that I think is important is, is putting together your staff. And you mentioned earlier that you had four assistants as part of your high school program. So talk a little bit about how you put together your staff and what that looks like. Obviously one of your staff members lives at your house.
So it’s pretty easy to be able to pretty, pretty easy to keep him under your thumb, I would guess. But just how do you put, how do you put together the staff that’s going to do the things that you would like them to do in order to build the kind of program that you want to have?
Liz Kay: [00:37:32] Well, it wasn’t easy at first, cause I was sort of this, this import, you know, coach that wasn’t from the town where I coach and.
You know, it’s amazing what happens when you start winning, you know, then everybody wants to join your staff. Right. But I would say that, you know, it, it, the, my, my JV coach is, has always been tremendously involved in the youth athletics and in town. In fact, the majority of the high school kids [00:38:00] had played for him back in kindergarten and third grade.
And you know, that they have such a tremendous amount of respect for him that when he kind of gave the okay, that I was okay, then players wanted to play, you know, I think there’s always a fear with a new coach coming in. And she was sort of my first gateway to help me run my first camp. And, you know, the kids kind of bought in from there because they knew that, that he trusted me.
And then obviously my husband, Jeremy has been with me since, since we started another woman who I, who I picked up had played professionally in Europe for a number of years. She’s about 63 64. So she, she certainly towers over me. But just such a tremendous resource, having been a professional player you know, and coming in and, and wanting to learn, but also really developing great relationships, especially with our post players.
Those are sort of her kids, you know, that she takes ownership over. Jeremy kind of takes charge more with the guards. And then we’ve kind of had a [00:39:00] couple of people in and out volunteering in the last couple of years, I had a I shouldn’t call her a kid now, but she she’s 21 and her season got canceled.
Her college season got canceled and she’s been at home this year. Her father tragically passed away in the fall and was a good friend of mine. And she then my student and my advisee at school. And yeah, I said, well, why don’t you come on board with us? Her father had gone to so many of our games and.
Sort of her tribute to her dad was to come work with us this year. So that was pretty special. In that realm she also runs about six to, so everybody kind of towers over me when we walk in the gym. But you know, just, they all brought something different to the table. I mean, Sarah was, you know, 21 and then the freshmen that came in, she was really spending a lot of time mentoring them and sort of learning the ropes, you know, taking over sort of the role that I had as a new coach.
You know, and then obviously having tremendously talented coaches that have been with me for a couple of years has been, I’ve been really, really lucky.
Mike Klinzing: [00:39:56] How do you figure out how to divide up roles? What does that [00:40:00] conversation look like? Is that something that happens when you first bring them on board?
Is that something that happens just kind of organically over time where people tend to gravitate towards areas where they’re either have a strong interest or a stronger talent in that particular area? How do you go about dividing up responsibilities for your staff?
Liz Kay: [00:40:20] Over time, I would say, I think certainly with Fiona, the who, who works for the posts.
I mean, she’s been with us now for two years, but I would say it took a good half a season before she really felt confident jumping in because she certainly didn’t want to step on toes. She wanted to make sure she knew sort of our philosophy before, you know, really going full bore. That said, I think the more knowledgeable, the more knowledgeable you are, which she happens to obviously be then once she kind of figured out how things worked and how our system worked you know, she felt a lot more comfortable jumping in.
She also knows that I sort of beyond the X’s and O’s I laid the ground rules early [00:41:00] that says, you know, listen, I’m not going to have you stand on the sideline and just watch me, you know, if you have feedback, I want it. Because oftentimes anybody giving me feedback is probably right and that includes games, you know, pull me aside.
What do you think? I might say no, but I’m always going to listen. You know, so developing that trust and that friendship has been really, really crucial for
Mike Klinzing: [00:41:19] us. And is that to you as a head coach, and especially if you think back to when you first were an assistant coach, your responsibility to help to develop your assistants.
And obviously we all know that there are different people on your staff at different times. Some of them are very, very happy being an assistant coach and want to stay in that particular role for a long time. But I’m sure you’ve had coaches that have passed through your program that have ambitions of one day taking over a program themselves, or they want to move up the coaching ladder.
So how do you go about taking the responsibility for helping them to develop as coaches so that they can eventually [00:42:00] move up to taking over their own program? Or maybe they want to move on to the college ranks? Just how do you develop your coaching staff and help them to become better coaches underneath, underneath your tutelage?
Liz Kay: [00:42:12] I have a lot of meetings about, again, just that honesty, that, that communication, you know, I mean, I ask for feedback all the time and I think that, you know, a huge piece of that is being humble enough to have those honest conversations about your strengths and your weaknesses. You know, that the coach that took over for me at my last job, he’s been doing it now for about 10 years, I think eight to 10 years.
And you know, he still calls me all the time. I don’t think you’re, I don’t think being a mentor ends, you know, when, when you leave that program or they become a head coach or whatever, sometimes actually the most development you. You do is when you actually become that head coach. And sometimes you don’t even know as an assistant, really what you need until you get there.
And so I actually think the majority of my feedback for better or for worse has actually come when some [00:43:00] of the coaches I’ve, I’ve worked with have actually taken over programs and just have the ability to give me a call and say, Hey, what do you think about this? And honestly, most of the time I learn more than they do in the conversation.
So, you know, my assistants at times that they don’t know what to ask until you get there. At least that’s, that’s what I, from my own experience too, I would say. Yeah, no,
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:22] that makes sense. That makes sense. I think when you talk about, Hey, you don’t know what you don’t know as you get into it and. You see somebody do something you’re like, Hm.
I wonder why they did that. And that goes back to kind of figuring out the why, okay, we’re going to run this particular offense this year. We’re going to make this adjustment because here’s what our personnel looks like. And I think as, as assistant coach, the ones that we’ve talked to that are successful both as assistants, and then eventually get the opportunity to move us.
Ed coaches, they’re always observing, they’re always asking questions and they’re always writing things down and taking notes. I can’t tell you Liz, the number of coaches that we’ve talked to that have said, you know, [00:44:00] I started my career when I was 21 and I worked for coach X and at the end of every practice I asked him or her for.
The practice plan. And I have every practice plan since 1984 in a, you know, in a giant folder. And I’m always amazed by that because myself, when I think about myself as a young coach, I was someone who had a pretty big ego and I had just gotten done with my playing career. And I thought, well, I was a good player.
So I’m probably going to be a good coach. And yet the only thing that I knew about coaching was I played for the same high school coach for my entire high school career. I played for the same college coach, my entire college career. So everything that I did was based off of those two guys, and I didn’t know anything else.
I really didn’t even know that I should be going out and studying and learning from somebody else. And so I think if I had maybe approached it differently or thought, like, I never thought about coaching until I got done playing. And then I was like, wait, the game is going to. Go away [00:45:00] and I can’t be involved in anymore.
How am I going to stay involved in? And that’s how I came to coaching. And so I think if I had thought about it earlier that I may have approached it a little bit differently. So when you think about yourself over the course of your career, how have you gone about learning more and growing as a coach?
What are some of the go-to, whether it’s people, resources, how have you learned more about the coaching profession over the course of your, over the course of your career?
Liz Kay: [00:45:31] You know, it started with VHS videotapes from championship production. Absolutely. I still have those by the way somewhere. I don’t know if I have a VCR anymore, but, you know, and, and, and then I started working, working summer camps.
You know, and, and you’re not really picky when you first start you. Right. You’re just like, okay, I have the summer free. I’ll go work wherever. It was incredibly eyeopening in, in sort of the similar to, to the snow valley experience, where I [00:46:00] started working camp for Barbara Stevens out at Bentley university in Boston.
And she’s a hall of Famer and just retired this past year. She’s won, I think more than she’s up there with, you know, one of the few women’s coaches that’s won over a thousand games at the division two level though. And you couldn’t hear a pin drop when she walked in the room and, you know, we would get, she said, you know, if you want binders of information, I’ll give it to you.
But when you worked camp, you just sort of followed her around because you were just so in awe of the fundamentals and what she has done with her college team over the years, including a national championship and all that kind of stuff. So she was a tremendous mentor for me in terms of opening my eyes to the.
To really how to break things down, you know, and then, and then you get a little older and you don’t really want to sleep on beds with plastic coverings on them, in the dorms and you know, all that kind of stuff. You know, and I started running my own camps and doing some of those things. And since then, you know, I’ve been really [00:47:00] picky about, you know, where I want to spend that time away from home learning from some of the best minds of basketball including even those who have been my foes in the last 20 years, you know, calling up coaches that, you know, I’m friends with and obviously not playing against anymore and having a lot of conversations about philosophy and culture and X’s and O’s to go with it, you know?
Mike Klinzing: [00:47:23] Absolutely. All right. Talk to me a little bit about snow valley, how you got connected with Kosho Walter and just how the opportunity to go out there came to be, and then what you feel like you get out of it every time you go.
Liz Kay: [00:47:38] So I actually got home very, very close friends with Jeff to Pelto.
Who’s out at Berkshire school and I know you guys have had him, especially in his dad on here at times. But I’ve known him. He actually, I taught at Suffield academy when he came in and I had already been coaching at a public school down in that area. And I remember Jeff coming in you know, came in as an assistant coach [00:48:00] and then took over the program pretty soon after that.
And we became fast friends and, you know, he is, he is as humble as they come and he knows that about me too. And you know, it takes a, it takes a humble kind of person to, to want to go out to Iowa and go out to snow valley and, you know, walking in, obviously I met coach show at a, at a Nike clinic that, that that Jeff introduced me to him there and then say said, come on out.
And I’ll never forget walking in, in, and you guys know this from probably everybody, of course, where he says, you know, coach show comes in and he says, leave your ego at the door. If you think you’re too cool to coach fifth graders, then, then you don’t belong here. And that was poignant. You know? I took 27 pages of notes and my first four days there, my first year.
So, you know, it’s a place where you, you soak it in like a sponge and if you don’t, you’re wasting your opportunity.
Mike Klinzing: [00:48:56] It’s so interesting that when we went out there and now we [00:49:00] didn’t obviously go last year with the pandemic. And so we’re talking two years ago and the experience, and again, maybe Jason can jump in here too, after I kind of give my point of view, but I think one of the things that I came away amazed by was just such, there was such a high level of.
Coaching and coaches that were there that were willing to, to share the game with not only with the kids that were there, but also with their fellow coaches. And I think that I walked away just like you with so many different ideas and thoughts and drills and stuff that I’m like, Ooh, I never thought about it quite that way, or, oh, there’s a drill that I’ve never seen before.
And again, just like you I’ve been around basketball for a long time. So it’s in a lot of ways I feel like, mm it’s it’s, it’s hard to sneak something past me that I haven’t seen before. And yet when I was out there, I felt like there was a ton of things that I picked up. And sometimes it’s just subtle.
Sometimes it’s just simple [00:50:00] language or terminology thing. Sometimes it’s a completely new drill or sometimes it’s just a tweak of a way of teaching a particular thing and coach show Altra just has such a way of welcoming people in and making them feel a part of it. And then you combine that with just.
How much of a teaching camp it is, and the fact that the basketball world has kind of skewed away from those teaching camps. And even when you think about high school kids, most of the time they’re going to, they’re going to team camp where they’re playing AAU in the summertime, and they’re not going to those fundamental camps, which were really, really all you had when I was a kid.
That’s what I did in the summertime. And it wasn’t there wasn’t the AAU basketball like we have today. And the fact that snow valley is still out there, it’s still as successful as it is. And not only from just the number of players that they get in there, but just the quality of the coaches that are there and the conversations that you have.
I mean, again, we found it to be [00:51:00] tremendously valuable. Jay, I don’t know. The only thing I was going to add is I
Jason Sunkle: [00:51:03] just, I was very humbled by the fact that like, when I walked in the building, I probably. I mean, I don’t, I don’t think I’m probably can say, I know that I had to have the least amount of experience out of anyone in that, in that place.
Like I coached middle school, girls basketball. And that was, that was literally like comparatively everyone else, but they treated me with such respect and you know, and everyone, every single person like show Walter, obviously he’s been huge for us on the podcast. Like he’s, we’ve done those round table episodes, every single you know, month and he’s, I don’t think he’s missed one.
He hasn’t missed one.
Mike Klinzing: [00:51:38] Right? He’s done every single 1, 28 he’s made, he’s made every single one. And when you think about again, what he’s accomplished, it’s just, it’s incredible to me, I’m so humbled that he participates at all. Even once
Jason Sunkle: [00:51:50] my favorite is like, what? Like, it was a one time that he said he realized he never, he didn’t email it to us.
So what did he do? He sent Mike an email at like 1:00 AM with, with with the [00:52:00] audio or, and
Mike Klinzing: [00:52:00] it’s like, sorry, I didn’t get it. I’m sorry. I didn’t get it on time. I apologize. I don’t know. You know, the fact that he’s even thinking about
Jason Sunkle: [00:52:08] us doing this podcast and he realizes, and he goes out of his way to help us and accommodate us.
And like, you know, unfortunately this year I’m not going to be able to go when you, we’re just not, we’ve got things like everything with everything being shut down last year, I’m not able to go to snow valley. So like I sent him an email and shows responses. No worries. You’re always welcome. If you can make it.
I knew that this year where there was gonna be people that weren’t gonna be able to make it because of everything that had been shut down. And it was just, just the fact that he responded to me and my middle school girls, basketball coach. I just, I just, I truly appreciate the person that show is. And this, the whole, the whole camp atmosphere was fantastic.
And I really, really, really look forward to being able to go back out there again next summer. Cause I I’m really, I’m really gonna need it and I’m gonna really gonna like it. So I really enjoyed my time there. So
Mike Klinzing: [00:52:55] it’s
Liz Kay: [00:52:56] actually, I would just say, you know, the other guy that really made a tremendous [00:53:00] impression on me was Dave Bullwinkle.
You know, I always happened to be put in his group for the 6:00 AM sessions and Dave Bullwinkle, you know, as you guys know, he’s
Mike Klinzing: [00:53:10] a little old school,
Liz Kay: [00:53:11] just a little bit. Yeah. Except for the fact that he’d already been in the, on the bike, in the weight room for like half an hour before the 6:00 AM session, just so that he could get his blood pumping so that his energy was high enough to work with kids coming in, looking sleepy.
I mean, I’m just like, are you kidding? You know, and we have dinner together all the time. And he was telling me stories, but you talked about the humanizing piece and no coach show. And some of these guys that I don’t even think I deserve to be in the same room with, you know, they treat you like gold and once you’re in, you know, it, it is, it is one of the most valuable connections.
That you can get to other coaches because we’re all so, so passionate about it and you don’t recommend anybody, just anybody, you know, you, you people say, oh, I want to work out there. So I don’t know you well enough to [00:54:00] recommend you to go out there. Don’t make me look bad.
Mike Klinzing: [00:54:03] Yeah. That’s, that’s, there’s no doubt about that.
I mean, I think Jason said it best that, you know, we felt tremendously humbled here with our little podcast that first of all, the fact that coach show Walter would come on in the first place. And we got connected to him through a high school coach here in Cleveland, Erik Flannery, who does a lot of work with USA basketball and has become really good friends, was show over the course of time.
And so, you know, that connection was made, but then there’s no reason for coach show to continue to be as connected to us as he’s been. And then to afford us not only the opportunity to participate in the podcast, the way he has, but then to invite us to come out to Iowa and be a part of that. And obviously then we had a bunch of guys that had been.
You know, that we’re a part of that, that we got to meet out there for the first time. So we had Nick Shaw and Greg white and Marshall show and it just, you know, and Nicola Gobbo, and it’s just amazing that, you know, here were [00:55:00] guys that we just were talking to them on the computer, and then here we are in person and we’re all getting together and, you know, I would count all those guys now as, as friends.
And, you know, it’s not just the fact that we talked to him on the podcast, but now you put a face to a name and you really get to see what they’re all about. Get to know them as people that you spend, some time eating dinner, and, you know, in the cafeteria, you spent some time out at night after you get done with the responsibilities with camp, you spend some time just sitting in a dorm room talking, and you really get to know what people are all about.
And to me, that’s just, that’s what coaching, that’s what coaching is all about. And I’m sure that you experienced all those same things.
Liz Kay: [00:55:39] Yeah, absolutely. And I, you know, I CA I am going to go back to the summer and I can’t wait. I’m really excited about it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:55:46] Yeah. It’s just a, it’s a, it’s just a special place.
And if anybody who is out there that I know we have a lot of people in our audience who I’m sure have been connected to it in some way, shape or form. But if you ever do get an opportunity [00:56:00] and you get an invite, I would highly recommend it both as a player and as a coach to get out there and be a part of it.
So let’s get back to your let’s get back to you as a high school coach. What are some of the things that you feel have been the keys to your success as a coach? If you had to point to one or two things that have been your strengths in building a quality high school program, what do you think those strengths are?
Liz Kay: [00:56:28] Like I said, I’m a defensive coach, so, you know, that’s something I’ve always sort of hung my hat on. You know, that’s not to say that we’re not all about scoring points too, because we are, but you know that there are nights when shots are not falling. And we had a game this year where we, we won, we ended up winning the game by six, but we took 64 shots and the other team took 34 shots.
We just couldn’t hit the ocean. You know, we had 20 fours, 25 turnovers. And, you know, you think you’re going to run away with a game like that. And, and sometimes you don’t. But you know, that’s we’re a gritty group. [00:57:00] We’re a, a together group. We’re a communicative group. We’re an unselfish group sometimes too much.
But I think we, we, we really hang our hat on being a close-knit drama free. You know, group of kids that care a great deal about each other. And I think, you know, being led by who ended up being a kid, you know, this year who ended up being the leading score in school history was also our best defender for four years.
And that sort of sold everybody else on that when your best player is your best defender and really buys into that, you could do great things. So, so this group of seniors ended up finishing their high school career with a 77 and 12 record and were just unbelievable on the defensive end. And that is the stuff that the third and fourth and fifth graders are watching.
Mike Klinzing: [00:57:53] What, how would you describe the defensive style of play that you teach?
[00:58:00] Liz Kay: [00:58:00] Well, you know, it depends on the group, but we’ve really in the last several years, again, because of the, the seniors that I have specifically, we kind of hang our hat on the, the good old John beeline, Gary Williams, 1, 3, 1. And we just have kids that are so long and so athletic that also know when to put pressure on the ball and when to, you know, sort of keep them in, keep them thinking.
And we change small things about it, but at the end of the day, it’s impossible to prep for if you’ve never seen it the way we run it. And so, you know, you coach can come into practice and say, I saw this as I scouted, and here’s what we’re gonna do, but then you got to see it and you got to play against it.
And that’s, that can cause some real problems.
Mike Klinzing: [00:58:41] It’s definitely difficult to. Practice against an unusual defense that you don’t see all the time and trying to replicate that with your second team or your bench players is really, really extremely difficult. I’m sure every coach can relate to that. So without giving away all your secrets, what’s one or [00:59:00] two things that you feel are key to playing a good one.
The one that have led to your success with it.
Liz Kay: [00:59:07] Well, you have to have the personnel, but realistically you’re my kid who plays on the top is my most important kid. The same kid who set the school record and points. I can tell you a number of those came from layups, from anticipation and steals and, and positioning.
You know, without that kind of a kid on the top, That’s so, so athletic and so intelligent, you know, that’s not a defense that I would run. You know, we also spend a lot of time on man to man principles and practice because, you know, if you, you’re not going to just sit back on his own and be successful, you have to know man to man principles in order to be a really good zone team as well.
So I think sort of incorporating those man-to-man concepts into that type of defense has been really important for us.
Mike Klinzing: [00:59:56] Yeah. That’s really, I think a critical aspect that [01:00:00] sometimes, especially when I think about coaches at younger levels trying to play zone, and we’ve all seen the sort of the caricature youth basketball coach sets the kids up in the two, three zone and they’re just five kids standing there with their hands up and they really have no idea what they’re doing and they’re not, yeah, it’s effective because.
Not too many, third and fourth grade players can do the things that are necessary to attack even a horrifically played zone. But I think what you’re talking about is the things that you do are based upon man to man principles are based upon having a high basketball IQ and being able to anticipate and be able to sort of think one step ahead of.
The offense and take away what could be potential openings just by being smarter and playing smarter. And obviously, as you said, when you have a player, like the girl, I’m sure that you described who played for you for four years is your best player on offense, but it’s also your best defender. There’s no doubt that that sets a tone for your team that I’m sure.
I’m sure you don’t always have that though.
Liz Kay: [01:00:58] No, but I do have her [01:01:00] sister now. So she, she was a freshmen this year and now she’s going to be taking over that top spot.
Mike Klinzing: [01:01:07] All right. So you got 7, 7, 7 years of the same family. That’s
Liz Kay: [01:01:11] gotta like that. When I run out of GAM Bronies, I might have to change things up a little
Mike Klinzing: [01:01:15] bit.
Go. You might have to go back to me at playing Amanda man every once in a while. Yeah,
Liz Kay: [01:01:20] we do sometimes too. I mean, you know, there’s going to be one or two kids on the other team that are, that are really, really good basketball players that. You know, it’s easy to lose them if you’re playing your normal everyday zone.
So in some ways, you know, it ends up turning up into a little bit of a matchup. You know, or sometimes it turns into a little bit of a junk defense and you don’t really know what you’re going to get. So there’s so many options you could run off of that or you sat up in it and you go, man, you know, so, so, so many, so many ways to fiddle
Mike Klinzing: [01:01:46] with it.
Yeah, absolutely. And how much, how long does it take you a kid that comes into your program on your varsity team as a new player? How long does it take them to sort of master to be able to play [01:02:00] within that with all the different tweaks and adjustments that you can make moment to moment, game to game until they feel comfortable in that, in that kind of defense?
Liz Kay: [01:02:09] Honestly, not too long. I would say, you know, when we’ve got about 10 games under our belt, I would say that that people are pretty comfortable. I think a huge reason for that is because I do a lot of film work. And so even with Maria who has been at the top. You know, she was, she was playing that spot as a freshmen.
And I would sit her down before practice with, you know, seven or eight clips and say, Hey, when I talked to you about your sagging too much here, or you’re not in between, or you’re, you know, you’re not quite where you need to be. You know, she’s seen that, you know, by 10 games in, she seen seven or eight clips that are about five seconds long for 10 games, you know, and that adds up.
And I think that that’s, that’s so much more valuable that film work is so much more valuable than anything I could point out in practice.
Mike Klinzing: [01:02:56] What time do your kids spend with film? Let’s say in [01:03:00] the days leading up to a game that you’re about to play against a particular opponent. So day to day, how much film are you sharing with your players?
How much are they watching? That’s not including the kids who may be jump on huddle on their own and watch stuff, but just how much are you watching as a team or watching with them specifically individually? Like you just talked about. Not
Liz Kay: [01:03:20] a lot. I, you know, kids attention spans. I’d like to think that again, they want to hear me talk about film, but I think what I’ve actually perfected the football coach at the school where I teach at, he says he sits on huddle and he’ll be doing film and he’ll take his phone out and record his screen for whatever clip that he has because the kids don’t even want to go on the website.
Right. So, and, and he will videotape it on his phone and re you know, be sending kids felt like, oh, here take a look at this clip at seven o’clock at night, kids will watch 10 seconds. Kids will watch those five to ten second clips, and you say, Hey, [01:04:00] have a look at this. And you send a couple of different things.
They, that sticks with them much more than. Anything longer than five minutes of me sitting in a room with them. And I will break down maybe five minutes of film before a game or whatever, and emphasize it in practice. But otherwise I’ve found with my group of kids, then they’re just mediocre at a lot of different things instead of pretty good at a few.
Mike Klinzing: [01:04:23] What kind of things are you showing them? Are you more likely to show them something that they’ve done well and say, look, this is how we need to execute this particular action or this particular defensive movement or whatever it is, or are you pointing out things that they did incorrectly that they need to fix?
Is it a balance between the two? How do you, how do you sort of draw that line?
Liz Kay: [01:04:44] It’s more of a balance. I also think, you know, when we were doing team film and again, it’s not incredibly long, but it’s the little that we do. As a group is, is very, very little about obviously individual accolades or [01:05:00] things that they’re doing well or things that individually they’re not doing as well and more, Hey, you know, we rotated incredibly well here or, you know, here’s a set, we’re going to run on an offense against this team frequently, what little adjustments can we make within that?
Here’s how you’ve been running it. What do you see? You know, from the last time that we played this team, so it’s actually becomes more of a question and answer than it is a feedback session. And then I, you know, individually, it’s certainly a mixture. It’s, here’s what you’re doing really well, but Hey, check this out too, you know, it’s that old positive, negative, positive sandwich
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:37] for sure.
Absolutely. How much film are you yourself watching in order to prepare for opponents and in order to be able to break down those clips that you’re eventually going to share with players? So in a given, let’s say to prepare for an opponent, how much film are you yourself watching.
Liz Kay: [01:05:54] Well, we kind of make it a point and again, I’m married to one of my coaches, so it’s a little, it’s a little [01:06:00] easier, you know, I don’t have to fight to go watch games, but we will see a team play typically in person probably three times before we play them.
And then on top of that, he’ll film and I’ll take notes as we’re watching them play. We are allowed to do that in Massachusetts. So we can, we could film the game that we’re scouting and then we’ll go back to it at home and spend some significant amount of time putting together thoughts and clips, et cetera.
So quite a bit.
Mike Klinzing: [01:06:28] What are the main things that you look for
Liz Kay: [01:06:31] tendencies? You know, we, we obviously want to know individual skills and, and players to, to look at et cetera, but you know, the number of times that I’ve looked at and Jeremy’s much better at looking at sort of the. How to attack or offensively that’s sort of his specialty.
But I would say at least, you know, w you know, it’s amazing to me, how many teams go to the right side of the floor? I mean, you know, you look at a team, you say that they go, they attack [01:07:00] 76% of the time going, right. And how do we want to adjust where we are based on that? Or, you know, we really need to get out and transition on this team.
We haven’t pressed all year, but this is a team we can do that, you know? So a lot of it’s individual tendencies, but a lot of just sort of tweaking what we already have. You know, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.
Mike Klinzing: [01:07:22] Is it, is it hard as a coach when you see something on film that you realize that you could make a particular adjustment, or you could add something in new, just specific for that game or that opponent, and how easy is that or hard?
Is that with. A particular team, and it’s probably different from team to team, obviously in player to player. Cause you have different levels of IQ and different levels of experience with teams. But just as a coach, when you see something you’re like, oh, we should really try this. How difficult or, or easy is it to implement a change [01:08:00] in a game plan or in something that you’ve done, maybe that you haven’t done all year?
Like if you said, okay, we haven’t pressed at all, but this team is terrible handling the ball on the backward. We need to press. How, how do you go about putting that in? Or do you put that in or do you just say, Hey, well that’s just not what we do. We have to kind of get through it with what we, with what we already have been practicing.
Liz Kay: [01:08:19] You know, it’s easier for me to buy into that than it is for the kids. They are so dialed into what we do well. That they don’t want to change what we do. They’re so confident in it. And, and a lot of the times, especially when you’re looking at the 1, 3, 1, sometimes for it to be the most successful, you know, you have to go away from it.
And so we might not, we might do what we do early, but we know in our back pocket, Hey, we need to get the pace going here. Let’s, let’s do this now. And it doesn’t necessarily require time out to do that. But you say, Hey, we know we do what we do. You here’s our back pocket option. And then they’re more willing to buy into it.
[01:09:00] They’re not willing to be buy into me coming into practice and say, Hey, we’re going to do something totally different tomorrow. You know, so it’s more of a back pocket back pocket game
Mike Klinzing: [01:09:09] that makes, that makes total sense. I think that again, if you’re doing a good job as a coach, your, your players are going to have a strong belief in what you’re teaching, because you’ve done a good job selling them on why you’re doing it and that why you’re having success as a result of that.
And when you try to throw something new in just for a particular game, you know, maybe it’s like, as you said, it’s a small wrinkle. It’s it’s a little something that we can put in there. It’s not completely revamping everything that we do every time we’re trying to play a play against an opponent.
It’s interesting to me always, when I talk to coaches about. The amount of film that they watch. And I think back to my experiences early in my coaching career, and certainly my experience as a player, what film was like back in 1989, back in 1988 and how difficult it was to be able to watch film at all, when you’re talking VHS tapes and trying to rewind and make sure you hit the clip and you [01:10:00] rewrite in three minutes too long, and then you end up watching the same thing over and over again, and having to mail videos to people and having to have these clandestine meetings, you know, Hey, I’m going to drive 45 minutes and meet you here.
And there’s so many stories of guys who were, you know, who were college coaches back then that were driving to meet people in the middle of the night to exchange video. And now you can watch things so, so easily. Do you find yourself. Even though you can be more efficient with film today. Do you find yourself watching more of it?
Because it’s so easy to watch it. Like in other words, even though you could, let’s say before, you would watch two games on film and it might take you three hours. Now in that three hours, you could probably get through, let’s just say five games. Do you find yourself spending the same amount of time and watching more or do you find yourself spending less time and being more efficient?
Liz Kay: [01:10:52] I would probably. I’m one of those people that has to see people in person and the exception to that is this year with, you know, [01:11:00] the fact that we couldn’t really have fans in the gym, it was even more accessible because everything was live-streamed. You know, so if we didn’t have a game, we’re sitting on our couch watching, you know, a team we’re about to play next week.
It’s it’s this right there live stream,
Mike Klinzing: [01:11:14] which is incredible, by the way. I think that’s probably going to be one of the, I think one of the best things to come out of COVID is just how it accelerated everybody live, stream their games. I think about it from my son was a freshman this year and my parents live in Florida and.
They got to watch every single game that he played this year, because whether they watched it live or I would just send my dad a text and I’d be like, Hey dad, they play today at four 30, check out the game and he’d be like, all right, great. I’m going to watch it. And when it comes out or he’d say, you know, mom and I are going to dinner, but we’ll catch it tonight at eight o’clock.
And it’s just, I mean, it’s incredible. And that’s just from obviously a fan or a parent or a grandparent standpoint when you start thinking about, from the perspective of a coach. Yeah. I mean, you can, you can pretty much get [01:12:00] anything you want anytime. It’s incredible.
Liz Kay: [01:12:02] Which I actually don’t like, because I’m actually the person that likes driving the hour to go see somebody play three times, because I know they’re not driving an hour to come see us.
Mike Klinzing: [01:12:10] Right. Everybody’s not willing to do that.
Liz Kay: [01:12:13] No. And so, you know, that’s the other piece of it is that one thing we know in our kids believes that we’re always going to be more prepared than who we’re playing. We always believe that because they’re not driving out to see us. And I don’t blame them. They probably have a lot more going on than the Jeremy and I do.
But, but you know that that’s something I actually don’t want to go away. Especially as we got into the post-season, if you hadn’t played us, you were at a tremendous disadvantage because you couldn’t, you know, if you come see us once you want to try to figure out what we’re doing, good luck, you know, you got to experience it.
So those were usually, and we lost, I think in the last four years, we only lost two games out of conference ever because you just in our conference was a gauntlet and you know, everybody knows everybody. And [01:13:00] unfortunately that probably worked to our detriment.
Mike Klinzing: [01:13:02] Yeah. When, especially if you play something that teams aren’t used to.
I think it’s that Jim bay, Haim, Syracuse, two, three zone. If you don’t see it all the time, it’s really hard. Like I said earlier, it’s really hard to replicate something that is unusual with your team in, in the two or three days, you might have to prepare for an opponent, even if you’ve scouted it. Even if you’ve seen it, you can talk about it all you want, but.
You just can’t, you can’t replicate it within your own practice. You really have to get out and have experience with it. Which again, when you’re talking about conference opponents. Yeah. So they they’ve seen you in multiple years, they see you multiple times a year. They can at least start to get a feel for what it’s like.
Whereas a non-conference opponent, there’s really no way to be able to replicate and unusual defense, especially one that is filled with talented players that can execute and do the things that they’re supposed to. So let’s talk a little bit about this year and how unusual it was. COVID standpoint. We talked before we jumped on that your [01:14:00] kids spent the season playing, wearing masks, and we’re here in Ohio.
And we got our season in and kids wore masks on the bench, but they didn’t wear them while they were playing. So that’s obviously one of the things that you guys had to go through, but just give us an idea of what this season was like for you, for your kids. Some of the things that made it unusual some of the things that you learned from it that maybe you weren’t expecting, kind of give us an overview of what the year was like dealing with COVID.
Liz Kay: [01:14:26] Yeah, we, we actually started, we were supposed to start on December 1st and that was not going to happen. There was you know, a spike in Massachusetts sort of right around the holidays. And our kids were not in school. They were, they were remote at that point. And basically the rule was, you know, nobody’s playing games until they’re at least in a hybrid school atmosphere.
That said they did allow us starting December 14th to go into small cohorts of about six to eight kids where we could go in with those six or eight [01:15:00] kids and not do any contact drills, but just all skill work. And we did that for two and a half weeks before we were actually allowed to have a real practice which was actually kind of cool for me just in terms of getting to know kids and things like that, but also just the fact that.
They didn’t have a fall season. This was really their first time back. They were in mass they’re there, you know, hand sanitizer everywhere, as you can imagine, and chairs all over the gym. And, you know, it provided a really unique opportunity to get to know them that way. But also, you know, again, I think you put the mask on and it’s, it’s, it takes a lot to get used to, you know, you are, it is like you are climbing a 15,000 foot mountain and you’re learning how to breathe the correct way.
But that said, I think it gave us a tremendous advantage because we were the only team practicing at that point in all of Western Massachusetts, actually. And so we got that time and together, and then we were able to do contact practices starting in early January. But the kids weren’t back in school yet.
So it was a [01:16:00] matter of not only getting our kids back into hybrid fashion, but we had to have teams to play and we knew we weren’t going to be allowed to travel outside of. Are sort of Berkshire’s area as it was. But then it’s like, okay, well, our other team’s gonna jump in. So, you know, we, we went through that roller coaster and I would say that, you know, we then had games on the schedule and January 24th, and then all of a sudden our town went red, you know, so COVID hit our town a little bit after Christmas and new year’s and all of a sudden games that we thought maybe we’re going to get to play.
Those are not happening now. And I remember the school committee meetings debating that, and I remember getting on zoom and watching them and, you know, kids and parents are writing letters. And I actually had a, a sophomore this year get up in front of a zoom meeting full of 150, 170 adults in zoom. And basically read a statement on [01:17:00] behalf of our team to say, please let us go back to school.
And it was. It was humbling. It was an indicator that some of these kids are wise beyond their years, and they’ve been forced to be a week later we were back and all of a sudden we were playing four games that week. I mean, we just said, we’re playing as many games as we possibly can. And you know what?
I don’t even need to practice. I’m not that important. Let’s just go play games. So between February 1st and sort of the second week of March, we got 20 games in, which is, I think more than maybe any other team in the state. Honestly, we were not allowed to have a postseason. But I think one thing it taught us beyond the basketball piece is that, you know, high school kids are always looking to the next thing.
It’s the next season? It’s prom it’s it is, you know, whatever formal they have, it’s April vacation, it’s whatever. And basketball is a long season. My kids were just so happy to be around each other. That if a snowstorm called off practice, I had kids in tears. [01:18:00] They just wanted to be around each other.
And so that provides a unique perspective where, you know, sometimes you don’t, it’s not until you’re older where you realize to appreciate sort of moments as they come, instead of looking to the next thing. That’s something that I think our high school kids will take away from this year in a way that no other high school kid will ever be able to do again.
Mike Klinzing: [01:18:22] I think something that always strikes me when I think about the experience of players versus the experience that a coach goes through. And I think COVID made this pretty clear when you think about kids who let’s say last spring, lost their season completely, at least here in the state of Ohio. So anybody who played a spring sport last year completely lost that.
It’s never coming back. Like those kids who were seniors last spring are never going to get to play their senior year of baseball or run their senior year of track. And if you’re the baseball coach of the track coach this year, guess what [01:19:00] you have another season. And it’s the same thing for you or I, as a basketball coach, that if you hadn’t have gotten to play a season this year, you would have been disappointed.
You would have been sad for yourself. You’d have been sad for your kids, but next season or the season after when things return to normal, you’d be back coaching and you continue to have those experiences. And yet high school kids, like you said, there, you only get one chance to go through that and to be able to experience it and to be part of a team.
And again, especially if you’re thinking about it being your last year, your senior year, but even if it’s your freshman year, you only get four years. To be a high school athlete. And if you lose one of those four who’s in 25% of something is a pretty significant, pretty significant loss. And the fact that your kids advocated for themselves to be able to play.
And I think that that was probably something that was universal across the country of kids wanting to get back in school and wanting to be able to play their seasons and figuring out a way to do that safely so that people didn’t get sick and they didn’t help to spread it through the community. And that kind of [01:20:00] thing.
I just think that we all learned to be a little bit more resilient, but I think as adults, it was really, really important to keep in mind that yeah, we might live to be able to have another season, but kids miss out. On a season, that’s a huge chunk of what they get to do. And I think that’s what I took away from.
It was just being so grateful for the season that we did get, even though it wasn’t quite what everybody thought it would be, or maybe it wasn’t quite normal. Just the fact that, yeah, you might not know who you’re going to play until the day before. Cause you’re calling to say, Hey, are you guys quarantined?
Can we get, can we get, can we get a game with you? That kind of thing. And so never quite knowing what was going to happen and what, what practice was going to look like on a given day, but just the fact that we were able to overcome it and get a season for those places around the country that we’re able to have a season.
I think coaches and players alike. We’re extremely grateful for the opportunity.
Liz Kay: [01:20:54] Yeah. And I would, I would say, you know, it was, it was weird too, because like I said, our, our conference is kind [01:21:00] of a Gotland and the reality was we were only going to be able to play teams from our conference. So, you know, we, we had two teams in our conference that won the state championship at two different levels last year.
So they’re already going to be the best teams that we’re going to play, you know, and at first it was, well, I’ve got a kid who could set the all time scoring record of the school, you know, oh my gosh, are we going to have enough games for her to be able to have that opportunity? And as it turned out, I had three seniors that all set different records at the school.
You know, and they wouldn’t have been able to do that if we hadn’t been able to play, you know, and then it’s like, okay, we’ve played 10 games. Can we keep this going here? And by the way, we haven’t lost yet. And we’ve beaten two defending state champions, and we’re going to play them again, you know? And so, you know, then you get to game 17, 18, 19, and you go, oh my gosh, we’re going to run the table here, you know?
And then you are playing for something. And, you know, at that point without a postseason, you know, we knew, I think at that point it’s like, we don’t [01:22:00] need a post-season to know. That we would not have lost one game this year. There is no way we were going to lose a state championship game. We knew that. And so that’s the shame of it too, where you play the, what if game, but at the same time, the way that the school supported us and, you know, people supported each other, it was pretty remarkable to see lessons learned that goes so, so far beyond perhaps the five or six games that you would’ve gotten, if you’d have had a postseason, it just perspective wise, you know, so it’s been, it’s been humbling, but man, we feel so fortunate when I have so many friends that were unable to play or went through quarantines or, you know, coaches from all over the country that lost their seasons completely.
And as bad as I felt for last year, seniors, this year, seniors, boy, they they’ve had to do a whole year of it, you know? Yep.
Mike Klinzing: [01:22:54] And you can look at it. I think it’s, it’s just like. Anything else in life, you can look at it. One of two ways you can look [01:23:00] at it and you can see the negative, or you can spin it and you can look at it and you could see the positive.
And I think the people who see the positive are the ones who end up coming out of it much better off for having looked at the bright side of the situation and made the best of it, as opposed to kind of taking that woe is me attitude and. Look, your kids are always going to look back on it and say, yeah, we didn’t theoretically get to cut down the nets after winning a state championship game.
But we won 20 games. We lost none of them. And we know in our hearts that had, we gotten that opportunity that we could have, we could’ve gotten it done. And conversely, like you said, it could have been very easy way or you don’t even have a season. And so just the fact that you’re able to get one out, I think is, you know, is tremendously valuable.
I want to end here, Liz, we’re coming up on an hour and a half. I promise you, we’re going to try to keep it to an hour and 15, 15, but it never happens. It never happens. We just kind of keep rolling. So I want to ask you one final question. It’s a two-parter and it goes [01:24:00] to asking you, when you look forward, what is the biggest challenge that you see ahead of you over the next year or two?
And then number two, when you get out of bed in the morning, what is the biggest joy that you get from being a head coach at the varsity level?
Liz Kay: [01:24:20] Well, I think, I mean, certainly in terms of just the basketball piece of, of what the biggest challenges are. I mean, I lose three tremendous players and we have to reinvent ourselves, but I think the foundation is in place that said, you know, I think one of the biggest challenges and I can’t speak for what it looks like all over the country, but you know, so many kids play all these sports in middle school and then they get to high school and they stopped playing.
And I think that’s one of the biggest travesties of, of sort of where things have gone is, is really just holding onto kids and teaching them that, that, you know, being a part of something bigger than yourself is so, so worth it and something [01:25:00] that you’re not going to be able to do for the majority of your life after, after high school or after college or whatever is to be able to put that uniform on.
You know? And so for me, I think ultimately it’s going to be the continued developing those relationships with kids from the time that they’re young. So that they have a personal connection and want to continue playing on when they are in high school. And that’s, I think going to be the biggest challenge for a lot of people moving forward.
And then to answer the second question, I think, I think there’s nothing that brings about the heartache, the passion, the emotion, the feelings of butterflies that, that you get, and really, you know, experience as a little kid when you’re playing there’s nothing that brings about more emotion to me for better or for worse than coaching my kids.
And you know, we should all be so lucky that we find anything that we’re that passionate about. And as long as it does, I’m going to keep coaching, you know as [01:26:00] long as they’ll let me anyway until they drag me out of the gym. But, but I just think, I just think that for me, the ability to feel that those highs and those lows on such a deep level is something that I hope I don’t ever lose.
Mike Klinzing: [01:26:13] That’s a great answer. And I think it speaks to kind of what you’ve talked about throughout the entire podcast is just the passion that you have for not only the game of basketball, but just for the kids that you have an opportunity to coach. And I think when you, when you start looking at why you get out of bed in the morning and what makes it enjoyable to be a coach, I think those relationships and building, building those and keeping your kids involved in your program and just having the kind of success that you’ve had both on and off the court with your players, speaks a lot to the kind of coach that you are before we wrap up.
I want to give you a chance to share how people can connect with you. You can share social media, email, whatever it is that you want to share, how people can reach out to you after they listened to the show. If they want to just reach out and talk some hoops or say, thanks. And then after you [01:27:00] do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap up the episode.
Liz Kay: [01:27:03] Sure. I’d absolutely love to I’m I’m on Twitter. @coachLK22. My email is LIZK email@example.com. And, and from that Twitter account to kind of connect to my team page you know, there’s nothing I like more than connecting with other coaches, especially those as passionate as I am. So I am all ears for anybody that ever wants to talk hoops.
Mike Klinzing: [01:27:29] Awesome. Liz, we cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule tonight to join us, to share your story with our audience and to everyone who is out there listening. We appreciate you and we will catch you on the next episode. Thanks.