WPIAL Coaches Corner – Chris Minerd
Sunday, February 5, 2017 | 2:24 PM
In this feature titled “Coach’s Corner”, I will be interviewing a different coach every week and asking them questions about their personal life and about coaching. Hopefully their answers will not only shed some light on how they coach their respective teams, but also allow readers to get to know the men behind the fields/courts.
This week spotlights California girls basketball coach Chris Minerd. This is Coach Minerd’s 7th season as the Trojans head coach. He has led his team to the playoffs in 5 of the last 6 years, including a WPIAL Semifinal berth in 2014. Let’s take a look inside Coach Minerd’s corner:
- Who was your favorite sports player growing up and why?
Magic Johnson was my favorite athlete growing up because he was the consummate floor general. He could take a game over if he needed to. At the same time, he was the type of player who made everyone around him raise their level of performance.
- Do you have any plans for the Super Bowl?
Well, that depends if the Steelers make it or not. That day is my birthday as well. So if the Steelers are there, I am sure it will be more fun. (Editors note…they are not, but Happy Birthday aynway Coach)
- What words of wisdom would you pass onto your childhood self?
Listen to your parents, coaches, and teachers. Don’t think that you know everything.
- What is your go-to leisure activity?
I love to play cards, attend professional sporting events, and go to movies.
- What are some of your pet peeves?
People that are friendly to your face, then talk about you behind your back. People who think they are better than everyone else.
- What was your favorite holiday growing up? Why?
My favorite holiday growing up was Christmas. As a kid, I enjoyed receiving gifts that I normally wouldn’t receive during the year. I was always the first one awake Christmas morning.
- What is the most important thing you try to preach to your players every year?
I always try to preach consistency whether in practice or games. I was always taught that you play the way you practice. No one is perfect. Everyone on the team has to contribute and be a threat. A team that has balance is hard to beat.
- You and your team reached the WPIAL Semifinals in 2014. What do you think is needed to push you over the edge and finally get your team a shot at a title?
As a team, we need to be tougher mentally, have more confidence. We need to have that mindset that once we take the floor, we are just as good as our opponent, especially in the playoffs. If we do that and value the ball more, we can continue to be successful and hopefully achieve the ultimate goal.
- What is your proudest moment as a high school basketball coach?
That is hard to narrow down to just one moment. I would say winning two section titles, making the Final Four of the WPIAL, and winning the school’s first PIAA Playoff game in girls basketball.
- You have been a consistent playoff contender over the past 6 years, reaching 5 times. What do you think most contributes to your success year in and year out?
I have been blessed to have strong assistant coaches as well as a strong feeder program. I have also been fortunate to have a great group of girls who invested a lot of time and effort into trying to improve their game. I do feel that a big key was that most of the girls in my program had the same coaches in middle school and high school. That helped us create structure and stability. Expectation for the players were established at a young age.
- What do you normally do in the offseason?
In the off season, I conduct open gyms to help develop individual skills, take my team to camp each year, and sometimes coach AAU Basketball. I also enjoy watching basketball at the AAU and college levels to see what I can learn from other coaches.
- In the small school landscape, private schools have dominated girls basketball. Talk about the difficulties of coaching girls basketball at a small public school.
I feel that private schools should play against each other, similar to the City League schools. Quite frankly, we are not all playing on the same level playing field in regards to the rules. Public schools are limited to players that live in their district. Private schools do not have boundaries. I do not see that changing anytime soon, so it’s just something we have to deal with.
- What was your most embarrassing moment as a high school basketball coach?
My most embarrassing moment as a coach actually occurred in AAU at the high school level. We were down by two with under ten seconds left. The opposing team was pressing us full court. When we were crossing half court, one of my players made a pass to Bailey Vig. At the same time I called a time out. The referee did not hear me right away and granted me the time out right as Bailey shot a three pointer that would have won us the game. It was quite embarrassing because we ended up losing the game. It was bad timing on my part. Bailey will never let me forget that play.
- How did you decide you wanted to coach basketball?
As a youngster I spent many hours watching my brother’s high school team play. I remember attending many practices. As a high school player, my coach trusted me to make defensive calls on the court. That was when I first thought about coaching because those responsibilities helped me develop a better understanding of the game.
- How important has your family been throughout your coaching career?
Anyone that is a varsity head coach knows that coaching is a huge time commitment. It’s not only coaching, it’s also watching films, preparing practice plans, scouting opponents, etc. All coaches must have a very supportive and understanding spouse or family support to be successful. I am thankful to have that. My uncle, Natale Cecchini, a former basketball and football coach at Beth-Center, was also a big influence on me. He was the first person who inspired me to be a head coach.
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