January 8th, 2013

Hyland's Heroes: Doug Biggs

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer


Hyland's Heroes: Doug Biggs
Coach Biggs (back row, center) with St. Agnes team / photo from Doug Biggs

Musician Biggs stresses fundamentals, basics for his teams

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

St. Agnes grade school’s 6th grade No. 1 girls team is coached this year by Doug Biggs and, so far, they are having a very nice season. Over the years the basketball program at St. Agnes has been known for hosting games and many successes, so the team is working hard to continue its tradition.

Doug and his wife Amy are parents to Lydia and Fischer who are both active and play basketball, among other interests. Lydia playing at Manual High School and Fischer participates at both St. Agnes and Highland Middle School. As long time members of the parish, and having been a multi-sport participant growing up, Doug certainly enjoys his role as dad and coach.

When and how did you get your start with the CSAA? Why so?

I had already been coaching with the YMCA and doing rec league baseball when my daughter began playing for St. Agnes in 5th grade. I joined as an assistant coach and when Lydia moved on to 7th grade, I stayed on coaching the 6th grade A team, taking over as the head coach the following year. 

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved? 

Basically I started as a volunteer, wanting to be involved with my daughter’s activities. With my sports and professional background, I felt I could help and be helpful.

What sports did you coach and for how long?

I have only coached basketball in the CSAA program.

 

What's the connection with your faith and giving your time to these young student athletes? 

Even though my kids are moving along and are no longer at St. Agnes, I feel very strongly that I am a part of the Parish community. The friends and families at St. Agnes are an intrinsic part of my life, as well as that of my family, and I have a great desire to return the support and caring we have received. I have watched many of these children grow and move through my program and I hope to do what I can to help them grow into strong, honorable, caring and compassionate people.

Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?

I have many years as a professional musician under my belt, and there have been many people on that road who have instilled in me the importance of preparation, responsibility and teamwork. But the most influential has to be my own children. They remind me how to remember being that child and while I may be frustrated with how a kid is performing at any particular moment, that the kid is also frustrated and wants to do things correctly as much or more than I want them to.

I try to remember what it felt like to have an adult or, worse, a parent continue to drive at you, even though you were going as hard as you could. When you add in the desire of the child to please the adult, you can have a real possibility of hurt feelings, loss of trust and even quitting. It is all well and good to be demanding, because I am that, but hand in hand with demanding must go understanding and a willingness to find another way to work things out if the first way is not working. It is easy to get caught up in the competition of the games and to forget that it is about the kids. My own children, particularly my teenage daughter, have their own way of letting me know when I am getting out of line.

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

First is to acquire the tools of the game. We practice individual fundamentals every day. If you can’t handle your own business, you are inevitably going to be frustrated with how things are going and not get to play. Second is challenging yourself to do more than you think you can. Push yourself, discover who you can be. Third is learning and practicing the game as a team.

Overall, I emphasize developing the fundamentals of the game so that the body knows them without the mind having to think them, and can move on to the bigger game itself. The goal is to give the kids a sense of what it means to “get good” at something and to develop confidence and self esteem through achievement, both individually and as a team.

What does coaching bring to you, your family?

Basketball has become something of a focal point in our family. My daughter plays in high school and coaches with me as one of my assistants. My son plays at St. Agnes and will often take part in my practices. I even play on Sunday nights in an “Old Man” league. My wife will often keep stats at my CSAA games. Becoming a better coach and watching and learning from other coaches has allowed me to assist my children in the development of their own game. It has given us something that we share as participants rather than parents in the stands and kids on the court. It’s a little different, but in this time when it seems many aspects of modern society work to pull families apart, coaching and basketball gives us something in common. The “discussions” at the dinner table and on the court can sometimes be fierce!

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching? 

My team last year started as a bunch of super athletes without much in the way of basketball skills. Throughout the season they worked hard and had an exciting, but up and down year. The last game of the season, we were down by three to a team that had beaten us earlier in the year. Well, I had given a game plan to the kids that they didn’t really care for, but they stuck to it and battled through the game. At the end, the other team had the ball with 7 seconds left on the side. I had told the girls that if the other team got the ball in to foul immediately. Well they did and our opponent was to go to the line. I called time and instructed them that if there was a miss, that we had 4 seconds to get the ball up and get a shot.

A young lady who had started the season as a reserve and ended as a starter snagged the rebound and dashed up the floor. As I counted out loud the seconds, she got to about 25 feet, rose and drained the 3 pointer to tie the game.

As I was standing in the huddle getting ready for the overtime, I looked at their faces and could see the confidence and fierce desire to succeed in this moment. There was none of the celebration that so often derails comebacks, simply a knowledge that the job wasn’t finished yet. The girls would go on to win in overtime.

That team would lose in the second round of the City tournament after giving a good accounting of themselves. However, when I see those girls now and how they are developing I feel that I did help some them find out a little something about themselves. Something strong!

 

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