March 20th, 2014

Hyland's Heroes: Gentry Hughes

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer


Hyland's Heroes: Gentry Hughes
The players in the photo are: Bobby Martin, Russ Miller, Luke Hayden, Corey Hughes, Greg Healey, Nick King, Spencer Foy and Charles Walker. Not pictured: Evan Caffey, Eric Degeare and BJ Nagel / photo submitted by the Hughes family

The following feature is a part of a bi-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.

CSAA Basketball season has roared in for a final landing this year. There were 22 finals held over two weekends in February. The high school Intermediate Division appeared to have the most fun this season. Their league has grown exponentially and with the additional teams they still had a great year.

Gentry Hughes coached one of the five teams at St. Patrick Church. Their Youth Ministry program, under Cindy Black, has sponsored teams and leagues for the CSAA since their two young sons were in elementary school. This was their 6th year working with the Intermediates.

With their second son about to graduate from High School, Gentry is wondering if the CSAA might be having a “girls” high school program by the time his youngest daughter graduates from elementary school. The answer is: “Yes, of course they would, if enough teams were interested.”

Gentry is a native of Shelby County who attended college at UK. He and his wife Dana have 2 sons, Jake and Corey and a daughter, Nicole, who also enjoys CSAA sports. It’s hard to find a more energetic and positive supporter for the Intermediate program then Gentry. His enthusiasm is contagious and sometimes that all it takes to make the league so much fun.

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

I started by coaching my older son, Jake, in CSAA basketball when he was in grade school at St. Patrick.

2 - Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved? 

I started as an assistant coach in basketball.  One of the other Dads asked me to help him coach. 

3 - What sports did you coach and for how long?

I have coached youth basketball for over 15 years; grade school, middle school and Intermediate. 

4 - What's the connection with your faith (stewardship) & giving your time to young student athletes? 

I believe (as so many others who contribute their time) that there is no greater reward than giving your time for others.  When it comes to using your time to support young men and their development, the responsibility becomes even more important.  I try to lead by example.  I want the young men on my team to learn the importance of good sportsmanship and respect.  So I realize that I must show good sportsmanship.  To me that's being respectful to the other coach, being fair and respectful to the officials, which includes helping the gym manager by cleaning up after a game. 

I know my team is always monitoring my behavior to determine the correct way to treat others. We were ahead by 20 points against another team earlier in the season and I asked our young men to stop fast breaks. I was proud of the way they played the remainder of that game. They competed, but without embarrassing or disrespecting the other team. With Intermediate basketball, these guys aren't just playing another team - they usually are playing against their classmates and friends. I want them to learn that you can enjoy winning, but it needs to be done while respecting your competition and demonstrating humility.  

5. Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why? (Could be former coach, parent, teammate, spouse)  

Probably my Dad! Not because he was my early childhood coach. He was a teacher and farmer. And in reality, he probably didn't even have time to coach. He was always about developing and teaching young men. He knew that the lessons he was teaching about working hard, respect, and being a good sport...are important life lessons. 

6 - What are your major themes/principles as a coach?  

When it comes to Intermediate Basketball, I have a simple philosophy.  I believe the primary goal should be for these young men to have fun.  They've played serious, pressure packed basketball in grade and middle school.  With CSAA Intermediate basketball, they have the opportunity to pick a team of their friends, play once a week vs. another team of their friends, in a controlled, competitive environment (with referees).  Second, they get an opportunity to take on responsibility.  With our team, the players are responsible for their own player substitutions; they call their own plays and decide if they are going to play zone or man-to-man defense. It's their team, not mine. They pick their own team; our team is made up of their friends from St. Xavier. It's all about them! Last, our team isn't just about St. Patrick. I believe we should be inclusive of other parishes, not exclusive.  We have 4 players on our team from St. Patrick; the others are from Holy Trinity, St. Stephen, Ascension, St. Albert, Margaret Mary and Manual

7 -What does coaching bring to you, your family?

Coaching really allows me to stay involved in our children’s lives.  It helps me to learn how to be a better parent.  It helps me to learn more about patience and how to motivate and communicate better with my own children. 

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

There isn't really one memory that stands out over others.  My best memories are usually post game talks.  There we are able to talk about what we learned.  What we did right.  What we could improve on. 

I was able to tell each player what they did well. How they were a good sport - or how they hustled on a certain play.  How they rebounded well.  And the best memory is seeing their eyes light up and seeing that sense of pride on their face for doing a good job.  That's what I remember. 

Last year, I was the assistant coach on my daughter’s 6th grade team.  We were playing in our last tournament game and we were down 20 points.  Our head coach called a time out with 15 seconds left in the game.  I thought he was crazy.  He gathered all the girls together and said, one of our girls hasn't scored this season and he was designing a play to get her a final shot.  He drew up the play.  I thought to myself that I haven't seen us execute a play 100% properly all season.

Well, the girls ran the play and our scoreless girl made the final shot from the baseline.  The girls, coaches and parents went wild when she made that shot.  You would have thought we won the game...not lost it by 18.  I'll never forget the joy on that girls face!  One other memory was this season.  One of our girls got confused and scored a basket for the other team in a close game that was actually decided by 2 points. 

After the game in our team meeting, it was clear the girl who scored in the wrong basket was upset and had been crying.  Her friends and teammates said to her "It's ok, don't worry about it, we've all done that once before".  The whole team started telling stories about how they had scored in the wrong basket...and crying eyes turned to laughs and giggles.  It was one of the best sports moments of compassion, teamwork and friendship I've ever personally seen displayed.  It was a special moment. 

I would like to add that there are so many people who don't even know about the CSAA Intermediate Basketball program.  It's a great way to keep young men connected to each other, connected to a Catholic parish, and it surrounds them with a positive and encouraging environment.  It further allows them to continue to learn important aspects of athletics like sportsmanship, the value of fellowship and teamwork.

 

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