BSN Contributor Rob Hounshell caught up with new BMS Girls Basketball Coach Joey Combs to get his thoughts
ROB: Well, here we are, some 30 plus years after shooting hoops on a dirt ball court beside Hwy 30 East, and I get to interview an old friend and neighbor. The press release is official and Breathitt County has hired Joey Combs as the 2020-2021 Middle School Girls Basketball coach. I myself am thrilled to see another young Breathitt Countian step up to teach our youth, and to know that the Middle School Girls Basketball team is in good hands. I know that Joey has the background and the dedication to see that another group of young athletes get high-level coaching and fundamentals.
So, let’s catch up with Coach Combs and learn what to expect from this year’s Breathitt Middle School Girls Basketball team.
BSN: Coach Combs, let’s give the readers some input on your basketball experience and coaching experience. What years did you play/coach ? Why were you interested in coaching the BMS Girls Basketball team? What do you love about the game of basketball?
Coach Combs: “I grew up here in Breathitt county and I played basketball all throughout school. I was a member of our last regional championship team at BHS and unfortunately, that’s been too long ago. I started coaching with a good friend of mine, Kyle Lively, many years ago. We coached the boys team at Rousseau, and it was a very fun and exciting year for us as we brought the county championship back to Rousseau. Then I got into helping the girls team when my daughter developed an interest in it. I’ve helped coach teams that she’s played on from travel to school teams for the past four years. Most recently helping Coach Renee Neace at Sebastian Elementary where we won the county championship last year.”
BSN: Middle School is a critical age for teenagers, especially athletes. Do you have goals for the team this year? How do you instill these goals in the young players?
Coach Combs: “I was interested in the Middle School job because you’re right, it is a crucial age for these girls, and I want to be able to go to work with them and help them see their potential and bring out the talent in themselves. They need to learn how to most importantly, believe in themselves and each other, the way that I do! It is just work, everyone knows that we have very talented young athletes in this county, and sometimes it just takes the right person or coach to bring that out in them. That is something that I really enjoy, teaching the game, helping them to develop and become stronger, faster, and become better shooters, defenders, and ball handlers. We have to put the right work in fundamentally, to become better players and teammates. My goal for this team is to get better everyday. To become the best basketball player that they can and to put that together and make the team better. We will strive for and want to win, but I also want them to enjoy the game and have fun. When they see themselves growing and getting better, the wins will come, and the more they enjoy the game, the more they will give you on the floor”
BSN: Can you give us any insight into practices and how Covid19 has affected setting up a practice and how you can effectively coach in this uncertain time?
Coach Combs: “Practices and workouts have been going great. I like an up tempo game and we keep things moving. It has been a little trying with all the Covid-19 regulations and restrictions. Each player has their own ball and we have to keep very small groups. You have to get creative sometimes, but we work on ball-handling, footwork, and agility everyday. The girls are learning how to finish downhill at the basket. We get our reps in for example, we do passing drills against the wall, but it’s still doing what it takes. Basketball is unique because you can get better on your own, just you, a basketball, and the basket! You don’t have to have more kids just to play or to get better, and I love that about basketball. Baseball and Football need someone to pitch or throw with, but in basketball, it can just be you and the ball, working on handling skills, shot development, and free throw shooting.
BSN: Tell us about your coaching staff and their experience in basketball and prior coaching duties?
Coach Combs: “I have a great assistant coach helping me, my cousin, Amy Combs. She was one of the toughest girls that I’ve ever seen play the game. Growing up together and playing in youth league basketball teams together, I know for a fact that boys dreaded having to play against her! She has helped as an assistant at JCS elementary, she has been a head coach for Marie Roberts-Caney where they won the county championship in 2007 and had the opportunity to coach Kendall Noble. She has also been a head coach for her son Braxton’s team in park and recreation leagues for a few years.
BSN: Lastly, are you having any trouble making a schedule due to Covid19 and what are other coaches saying about their upcoming middle school girls basketball season?
Coach Combs: “As far as scheduling goes, I’ve been able to get some teams down for dates. Some schools I’ve talked to are waiting until the in-county schedule comes out so they can work around local teams first. Some schools are waiting for a go-ahead on their season in general. Some schools still haven’t hired a coach. Covid-19 has made it more difficult with scheduling for sure because of uncertainty. All I know is, we are going to keep putting the work in, until they tell me that we can’t! Go Ladycats!”
It’s been great hearing how excited Coach Combs is about this young group of athletes. Really and truly, this is what coaching is all about folks, having a mentor and teacher that has been through the system and returns to give back in some shape or form. For me, especially to see another coach come off of Hwy 30 East is special. Quicksand, Noctor, and Rousseau have been the home to many great athletes in the Breathitt County system. Go ahead, try me, with names like Stevens, Chapman, Back, Carpenter, Holbrook, Fugate, and Combs, Hwy 30 East is an All-Star list like no other in the county! But maybe I’m biased!
Let’s hope that Coach Comb’s BMS Girls Basketball team has a great upcoming season. I know they have been practicing and preparing fundamentally. Even with the topsy-turvy world we live in, it’s great to see some sort of normality back in athletics and sports. These young ladies needed a great coach and got one, much like we need the competitiveness and excitement of sports in our lives. If you get a chance, get out and watch these young ladies play.
Good luck to these ladies and the Coaching staff! Thanks again to BMS Girls Basketball Coach Joey Combs for taking time to update us on this year’s team and as always, “Go Bobcats!”