Tidewater Academy has seven basketball players on rosterPublished 1:12pm Saturday, December 22, 2012
BY ANDREW FAISON/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Wakefield—With only seven players on the Tidewater Academy basketball team, the word “quit” is not an option, said Warrior Coach Walter Westbrook.
“We don’t talk about our low numbers to the fact that we can’t do this or can’t do that,” Westbrook said. “We just say ‘Hey, this is what we got and this is what we’re throwing at ya.’”
The Warriors lost the eighth member three minutes into the season opener when sophomore Chris Young suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
“I could sit here and complain but I won’t,” Westbrook said.
“I am extremely proud of my team. They accept the challenge of knowing they have limited numbers on their team, but still come and practice hard every day.”
The 20-year TA coach is no stranger to succeeding with low numbers; in 2010 Westbrook led a squad of nine players to the school’s first-ever state championship.
“I’ve been here so long, you see low turnout for sports happen occasionally,” he said. “All small schools at one point in time are going to have these problems.”
During the 2001-02 season, the Warriors finished the last four weeks with six full-time players
“During practices then we worked on a lot of skill work; there are always ways to get around low numbers,” Westbrook said.
During practices, he breaks drills down to play three-on-three, occasionally bringing up two junior varsity players to play five-on-five. The Virginia Independent School Athletic Association allows two junior varsity players to play during varsity games for no more than two quarters.
“Every one of my kids will play every night, obviously some more than others,” he said. “It’s my job as the coach to sub properly so that the players do not become tired too early.”
Westbrook noted that since his players are together so much, his team has no chemistry issues. The only real disadvantage to having only seven players is there is no room for illnesses or any other injuries.
“We never feel sorry for ourselves,” Westbrook said. “This situation all comes down to how you approach it, whether you approach it positively or you look for excuses.”