The Middle School Boys’ Basketball team won the 2016-17 Central Pennsylvania Basketball League (CPBL) championship on Feb. 16, 2017.  This is Head Coach Derek Coates’ second championship (2017 and 2013) and his 10th year as the team’s head coach.  He is assisted by second-year coach, Kevin Helm (father of John ’20, Jacob ’21 and Joseph ’21).

Coach Coates is well-known for his style of teaching his players to “play with character.”  He emphasizes “words to learn” to them so that they understand the meaning of sportsmanship, character, and respect.  He not only teaches them on the court, but he believes in molding each young man’s work ethic in the classroom as well.  I have always been a big fan of teaching the student-athlete beyond the classroom, and Coach Coates is a model of this style of teaching and coaching.  I asked Coach Coates to answer the following questions in my interview:

What was your most pleasant surprise this season?
The most pleasant surprise was the stellar improvement of some players. Two years ago, it was extremely difficult for some players to run and dribble at the same time. Through hard work and determination, they became an integral part of our success this year.

How did this team come together to peak at the right time?
I think the boys were able to come together by trusting and believing in Coach Helm and me.

Who were your leaders?
My leaders were our team captains, Drew A. ’21 and Sean M. ’21, two players for whom I had the honor to observe their growth on and off the court.

What inspires you to keep coaching?
Witnessing the development of these young boys is what motivates me and retains my interest to keep coaching.

Do you have a favorite moment of the season?
Winning the championship!

As the school’s director of athletics, I was privileged to watch the team play every home game this season and was very impressed by their ball movement. I have not seen a team pass the ball at that level within the team offense since our 2013 championship team. The other uniqueness of this team was how much each player improved and how every player coming off the bench made a contribution. Fortunately, 10 8th graders will move up to our Varsity Boys’ Basketball team next year, but don’t worry about Coach Coates — he still has 15 underclassmen to groom for the next championship!

Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.