During my interview, I asked Coach West if he had a favorite basketball slang term, and he brought up a name I had not ever heard before: Chick Hearn. Coach West inspired me to learn more about Chick Hearn, and what I found out was that Hearn coined many of the slang terms used today. Those in the basketball realm call these terms chick-isms. Terms such as, slam dunk, air ball, and the triple-double. Chick Hearn, for 42 years announced the Los Angeles Lakers games in a riveting play-by-play style that Hearn himself referred to as his “word’s-eye view of basketball.” But, Coach West is in the spotlight in this article and his favorite “Chick-ism” happens to be number three in the top five “Chick-isms” of all time. West recalls “the popcorn machine” which was Hearn’s way of describing a player who fell victim to an opponent’s head fake. Sometimes, Hearn would take it a step further and narrate how funny the player looked with salt and butter all over him. Thank you Coach West for the lesson in basketball aristocracy.
Coach West teaches eighth grade science and is in his eleventh year of teaching at AMS. This is Coach West’s first year coaching boys’ basketball. Prior to that West coached girls’ basketball for three years. Coach West’s reasons for coaching are simple: basketball is fun to play and is great exercise. I asked Coach West what inspired him to become a coach and if he had a coaching role model. “I coached before I taught. Coaching got me into teaching. I have coached high school baseball and football.” West’s coaching role model is the “Wizard of Westwood”-John Wooden the infamous coach of the UCLA bruins. “Wooden had lots of basketball knowledge, valued character of his players, and the way they behaved on the court whether they won or lost.” Coach West’s on court expectations for his team are simple, yet significant to team success. “On the court, I expect them to simply try to do their best. Work as hard as they can and never get out hustled. As any solid coach would, West has expectations off the court as well. “Off the court, I expect them to carry themselves in way that represents their school in a positive light.” As an athlete, I have always valued teamwork and spotless sportsmanship. I appreciated it when Coach West paid allegiance to the worth of playing the game clean. “I think sportsmanship is very important. It doesn’t mean you can’t play a hard game. I expect the guys on the team to win with class and lose with dignity.” Teamwork was high on West list of priorities. “I treat everyone the same at practice. Everything is done as a team. Rewards and penalties are given as a team. They do not necessarily have to be the best of buddies, they need to respect each other and work as a team.”
Coach West opened up about the technical side of his basketball team by chatting with me about how the team has been preparing for the upcoming season, “We have been focusing on fundamentals and conditioning at every practice. Slowly working on putting in different defenses and offenses.” I had to ask Coach West how his team will outstrip and outscore opponents “With this team, since they have so much speed, we need to take advantage of our speed. Move the ball around, take quality shots. Just trying to be aware, read the ball as it’s in the air, and it will set us up better for rebounding and to box out.” I thought it would be fun to ask Coach West to create a hashtag for his eighth-grade team, and he replied without any hesitation, “#hustle.” I wish Coach and the team the best of luck this season. In the words of Coach West’s role model, John Wooden, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” Congratulations Coach West, your philosophy on teamwork and sportsmanship pair well with the “Wizard of Westwood.”
Kid Sports Reporter