From locker room to chat room

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Coaches find the Internet can be a useful tool in their trade.

By Jeremy Joffray and David Wilson ~ Southeast Missourian

What was once thought to be a tool for lonely hearts to make a connection has turned into some coaches' best friend.

The Internet chat room has become a place for coaches to find job openings, find games for a schedule opening and even exchange strategy.

"I think there are a lot of uses for the message boards and most of them are good," Bell City coach David Heeb said.

Heeb is among those who post on mosports.com, a pay site for editorial content which also has message boards for nearly every high school sport. While the majority of coaches who use the site might have clever handles they go by, one coach who doesn't mind standing behind his words is Heeb.

The coach of the two-time state champion Bell City boys basketball is known in the mosports message boards by simply HEEB.

While using his own name may make him a target for some who post, Heeb said using his own name allows other people on the message board to know right away to whom they are talking.

"With the message board it's probably the only way a coach can tell exactly his own side without someone editing it," Heeb said.

Central High School coach Lawrence Brookins agrees.

Brookins is the varsity football coach at Central and the head coach of the track and field team. Though he is not an avid user of mosports.com, he logs on sometimes to check on his friends at other schools.

"When I get a free moment every now and then, I'll log on just to see what's shaking," Brookins says. "I don't mess with it much. I'm really just too busy to lean on it that much."

While Brookins views the site at his leisure, other coaches such as Heeb rely heavily on the information that can be exchanged on the site.

"When I get on there what we use the message board for is to scout people," Heeb said.

In coaching, finding an edge on the opponent can be crucial, and that is where a message board can come in. Topics such as player injuries and team strengths or weaknesses appear on the message boards. And while much of the content may just be rumor and gossip, the information often gives coaches something to go on.

"I think it's changed high school basketball because news travels so fast," Heeb said. "That's one of the things that makes it a lot better, because of how fast you can find information out."

Not all the information that goes on the message boards is positive. With the message board, though, some coaches can try to clear up rumors or negative statements.

"When some negative things come up and people see your name on there, it gives you a chance to defend yourself," Heeb said.

Heeb was involved in one of the most active threads on the boys basketball board in late June after he had pulled his team off the court in a summer league game.

It's not all business on the message board. Coaches and fans alike often pose speculative topics about the best player, or greatest team in Missouri, or toward which college Poplar Bluff's Tyler Hansbrough may be leaning today.

"In some ways, the site is very good because you can get your school's name out there, and you can get your athletes' names out there," Brookins says. "But when it comes to the chat rooms, some people get on there and they don't have a clue what they're talking about. All this talk about, 'My team's running back is better than your team's,' that's all settled on the field."


IN HIS WORDS

Bell City boys basketball coach Dave Heeb contributed to a thread on mosports.com that discussed his decision to pull a team off the floor in a summer game with Scott City.June 24

"... First of all, I apologized to both the official and Lance Amick after the event. There were no hard feelings about anything that happened. It was probably a mistake on my part, but I did what I thought was right at the time. We had about 10 calls in a row go against us, and then had one of our guys get knocked 15 feet backwards with no foul called. At that point, I did what I thought was right. Everybody may not agree, but it's summer and why take the chance of things escelating from there. ..."

"... I know our kids aren't getting a message about quitting. I don't care if other people think that. Our record speaks for itself, and when it counts this winter we'll be ready to play.June 25

"We were playing Scott City in a summer league game and we were getting killed. There were some very touchy fouls called in the first half, and both coaches were getting a little frustrated. Lance Amick, the Scott City coach, got a technical after a foul call against Scott City that even I thought was pretty weak. On the next trip down the floor, one of our players took an obvious charge that was called a block. A few trips later we had another charge/block call go against us that could've went either way. I thought Scott City had gotten a few calls because of Lance's technical, so I got one also. In addition to all of this going on, the rules in this league say you get a point for every foul on the shot (plus the ball back) and a point for ever foul after the 5th team foul (plus the ball back). Scott City had 16 points on fouls in the 1st half, and we were down by 20 or so. We had missed at least 7 layups that I can remember. We were throwing the ball away a lot. I was frustrated, mostly at my own kids, but also because I thought the score was lopsided because of this 'point for a foul' rule. I already had a technical about it, and right at the end of the half one of our kids set a screen and got 'ran through' and knocked about 15 feet backwards. There was no call. I walked onto the floor to 'discuss' why after all the touch fouls this was not a foul, and I got ejected. When I got ejected, I took my team with me.

"It's not really worth talking about. I probably should have just sat there and let my team get killed, but the way the game was going I just thought nothing good was coming out of it, and the fouls were just getting harder as the game went on because both teams were frustrated. I wasn't going to let my kids play without me there, plain and simple. The next day we had the same official and I apologized to him. I told him I was mostly frustrated with my kids, and that I was sorry if I offended him. He accepted my apology and we had a good talk about the whole thing. There were no hard feelings. Later I also saw Lance Amick and apologized to him. I won't go into what we talked about, but Lance and I are good friends and there are no hard feelings. It's just one of those things that happened. Again, what my team probably needed was to be beat by 40 for the way we were playing, but I didn't want to leave them out there under the circumstances. We only have a couple of seniors, a handful of juniors, and we also had three freshman and two sophomores with us that day. Why take the chance with all of those young kids? It's summer time. ...

"... If other people are saying 'doesn't this send the wrong message' then they don't know me, they don't know our players, and they haven't been paying attention for the last 4 years. Hope this clears up the whole thing and we can put it to rest."June 26

"... If you think that we were giving up because of the score, then you are sorely mistaken. We are very young, and we've taken some lumps this summer. It's all part of the getting better process. I did what I thought was right for my kids well being first of all, and what I thought was best for our continued improvement number two. If you were in our huddle, then you'd understand. I've done some radical things in the past, and I wouldn't even rank this as number one on the list. So far, it seems to be working out okay with the state championships and all. ..."June 27

"The kids I have now are YOUNG. I'm not leaving a bunch of freshman, sophomores, & juniors out there with Scott City (who is a very big, physical team) when our biggest kid is about 5'11. If you were there, in our huddle, you'd know why I did what I did. It is all part of the journey. It's part of coaching a lot of people leave out. My only regrets are how I acted toward that particular official, and that Lance (who is a good friend) and his kids didn't get to play the second half. I apologized to Lance and the official. I don't care what anybody else thinks. I know I'm right."

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