TIMEOUT: Local teams build championships

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

It’s every fan’s dream for its home team or favorite team to win a championship. It is every parents dream for their child that participates in sports to be part of a winning or championship team.

We all know it is one of the most difficult feats for a team to achieve. But what does it take to win a championship? What does it take to win again or back-to-back? Does it take a perfect season to win?

A few factors have crossed my mind in terms of what it takes to produce a championship team. We’re going to stick to the ranks of amateur sports.

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One of the biggest and most important has to be the coaching. I’ve always admired high school and college coaches because they only have a few years to work with its players. Most high school players are just starting to develop their skills by the time they reach the ninth or tenth grades. Every once in a while a coach will be blessed with someone that has that natural talent, but a majority of the time, a player has to be molded.

I look at University of West Alabama’s Bobby Wallace. In his first year he has turned its football program completely around. They have moved from doormats in its conference to a very respected football team. Wallace led them to its first winning season in 14 years. I think it had something to do with coaching. Don’t look now, but they just hired another winning coach, Eddie McCarter, to boost its basketball program.

Two of the most solid football programs in the immediate area have been Demopolis with Coach Doug Goodwin, who has made the playoffs in his eight seasons of coaching at DHS, including the state championship in 2004; and Sweet Water under Coach Stacy Luker a 1A powerhouse year after year and this past season’s 1A state champs. We can’t leave out Southern Academy and Coach Shaun Bonds, who have won three straight championships when it comes to football. Another solid program is R.C. Hatch with retired Coach Eugene Mason and now Homer Davis and its basketball program which has recorded an unprecedented nine state titles, four in the last five years.

Hatch continues to baffle the sports media in its year after year appearance in Birmingham. They look at the small town of Uniontown then look at all the championships, then walk away shaking their head.

How does these teams continue to produce the way they do year after year? It is coaching and their knowledge of the game. Coaches must also garnish the skills of getting players to play at or beyond its skill level. They must also surround themselves with a staff of knowledgeable assistants.

The player has to be another factor in producing a championship team. Players do not come into a program with an equal amount of skills. Whether it’s on the high school or college level, the skills will differ and this is where good coaching comes in.

Team unity rates high, because the team comes before any individual and the cohesiveness of any team will always be seen on a championship team. Pulling the team together seems to be the job of the most experienced players of a team. In college or high school it usually falls on the shoulders of the seniors.

Discipline is an important factor in building championship teams. One of the definitions of discipline is mental self-control. Discipline is not easy to teach, but it is something that must be instilled on every sports team. It shouldn’t be the job of a coach to teach discipline, but it seems to fall under the responsibility of a head coach.

Discipline is an area that parents can help produce a team player to fit on a winning or championship team.

Championship teams draw better players, an abundance of support, which becomes an ingredient for more championships.

See you on the diamonds, courts, courses, and fields.

James Gilmore is the sports editor of The Demopolis Times. He can be reached by e-mail at james.gilmore@demopolistimes.com.