More Than a Coach

By Ava Bonavia

Photos courtesy of Jade Winton and Brisen Wright

One of the most important aspects of a sport is how the coach and athlete interact. At Grandview the strong coach-athlete relationships help to mold and create strong State champions.

Josh Ulitzky, who has been coaching for 23 years and is the Girl’s Basketball coach, goes beyond just coaching to connect with his players.

"I try to get to know them as people, not as players,” said Ulitzky.

Coach Jada, who coaches the girls JV team, uses a balance of different techniques to coach her athletes.

“My style falls in between autocratic and democratic depending on what we are working on,” said Coach Jada. “I try to balance the corrective feedback with positive feedback as much as possible.”

Despite having very successful basketball teams, these teams still have hard practices that require encouragement from their coaches to push through.

“Sometimes the practices are very physical and at the end of a long day it is hard to stay present. As a staff we try to avoid doing the exact same drills every day and add rewards or consequences to the drills that we do to keep the intensity and focused attention in practice,” said Coach Jada.

Libby Campbell, a JV basketball player who swings Varsity, is pushed through those hard practices by her coach.

“My coaches tell me that it’s in my head and to keep pushing no matter how tough it gets,” said Campbell

On and off the court, basketball has created a bond between coaches and athletes.

“Having genuine connections with the players makes the experience of a season more meaningful,” said Coach Jada.

Not only have coaches and athletes bonded over basketball, but they have learned life lessons from each other.

“They show me how to be strong mentally and physically and find the good in any bad situation,” said Campbell.

Even coaches have learned from their athletes.

“I learn new things all the time from the girls. They keep me on my toes, and it is great that they are so open to talking with me about life and basketball,” said Ulitzky.

Coaches use their time with athletes to improve their own coaching style.

“Getting to know who they are off the court and learn about their interests, goals, likes and dislikes allows me to find what coaching style works best for them,” said Coach Jada.

Athletes are able to see and connect with their coaches even after practice.

“I can always go see them [my coaches],” said Campbell. “It’s just good to have a conversation with them no matter what kind of day i’m having.”

Coaches can also improve their coaching style through athletes when they are able to see when they make a coaching mistake and can learn to correct themselves.

“When they mirror something that has been negative from me I know right away that I need to change that behavior,” said Coach Jada.

Even coaches have been able to learn important life lessons from their sport.

“What I have learned from the athletes is that no matter how talented or skilled they may be they still want the same basic things as everyone else,” said Coach Jada. “To be accepted, encouraged, appreciated and valued.”

Even after sports have ended, coaches and athletes stay in contact.

“I try and connect with the players that are still in college every couple of weeks, just to check in and say hi. I am fortunate to be able to stay in touch with a fair amount of former players after they move on from Grandview,” said Ulitzky.

The strong coach-athlete relationships have fostered lasting friendships and valuable life lessons.

On Saturday the 26th, Coach Ulitzky received his 300th win! Read more about his win here!

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