Coaches help students reach the top


Wrestling coach James Patterson helps a player practice by grappling with him. Patterson has been coach since he got out of college.

Coaches can have a distinct impact on a player’s high school athletic career by helping improve skills on the playing field and learning how to be productive in society. Sequoyah coaches try hard to improve a student’s ability with anything, from early morning practices to hours watching film to even important life lessons.

Varsity basketball coach Allen Carden believes in making the lives of his players better outside of basketball. Carden finds that in order to become a better player, players must be a better person first.

Varsity basketball coach Allen Carden directs his players during drills during a practice. Carden first started coaching in 1986.

“First and foremost, we have to teach the kids how to be productive members in society when they get out of high school. Basketball is not the whole world, but during those two hours of practice we have to make it seem like it is, but then after that you’ve got to make sure you’re a good person,” Carden said. “We don’t really try to develop great players, we try to make good people and teammates. The most important thing is being a good teammate.”

For many coaches, coaching is the reason they started teaching. Wrestling coach James Patterson has been coaching since the beginning of his career and has been involved in numerous sports.

“[I] started [coaching] freshmen year of college, fresh out of high school,” Patterson said. “[I coached] wrestling, football, baseball, and girls golf.”

However, being a coach does not come without its sacrifices. Patterson knows that helping the team can mean sacrifices elsewhere.

“You lose out on [spending] time with family, working long hours, dealing with parents sometimes, but it’s fun,” Patterson said.

For some coaches, time away from home is not as bad because their children are on the team with them.

“I don’t ever look at it as sacrifices or burdens, I look at it as opportunities,” Carden said. “[My kids] all played for me in high school, all three of my sons and my daughter played for me in [their] first two years. So… our family was always involved.”

For many coaches, seeing improvement is the most fulfilling aspects of the job, as it is their responsibility to help guide the players to hone their skills as athletes. Diving and swimming coach Miriam Greene finds that this perspective of coaching is the most rewarding to her.

“[My favorite things to see are] building relationships with the swimmers, helping them improve, watching them improve,” Greene said. “Watching [Rachel Renner] progress from her freshman year to her senior year was exciting [due to] winning two state championships in diving.”

Dive and swim coach Miriam Greene watches during the Relay Meet. Greene became head coach in 2015.

Often times, coaching for long periods of time can lead to some great memories. They can be anywhere from buzzer beaters to state champions.

“One [of my memories] is playing a championship with my son in the starting lineup and just sitting there as they run out,” Carden said. “Of course, coaching my oldest son in high school then him coming back and helping me coach now as my assistant coach. I feel like that’s one of the high points of my coaching career.”

Sometimes, players can grow relationships with their coaches, especially after participating for numerous years. Junior varsity basketball player Khalid Salaam has a deep appreciation for what Carden has done.

“He’s helped me a lot as a player since freshmen year. He works a lot with skill work and helping you get better as a player overall like dribbling, passing, shooting,” Salaam said. “Then as a person, he wants you to be places on time, he wants you to wear the right stuff, and do stuff that will prepare you for life.”

Players, just like coaches, also tend to have a favorite moments with their coaches and the relationship that grows between them. Senior swimmer Tanner Baird has grown a relationship and shares fond memories with Greene.

“[My favorite memory was] last year: it was the last swim meet and [my friend Gabe Reddick’s] last meet, and it was very emotional to swim our last event and qualified for state,” Baird said. “After we got out, everyone was cheering, and Coach Greene was giving us all hugs and it was really sweet.”

Coaches can have a unique opportunity to influence and affect players’ lives. They have the ability to connect with students in a special way.

“Kids do not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Carden said. “From a coaching standpoint you’ve always got to keep that in mind. The lasting impact you can have on their lives as they go into society is the most important thing.”