Stepping Up — My Take: TEACH head coach Greg Rowe redefined basketball strategy
Published 11:06 am Wednesday, March 5, 2014
In 2008, TEACH Athletic Director Greg Rowe decided it was time for homeschooled athletes in Beaufort County to get a shot at playing against established high school programs. As a coach, he built a basketball program from the ground up, and six years later, he’s calling it quits, but not before leaving behind a truly remarkable and improbable legacy in his wake.
It begins with the available pool of athletes. While high schools like Washington, Northside and Southside have hundreds of athletes to select from, TEACH has no cuts, as it is limited to just a handful of students. For an athlete to even be eligible, it’s obligatory that he or she be enrolled in The Eastern North Association of Christian Homeschool program, a membership that isn’t ubiquitous among all homeschooled children.
Rowe took what was available to him. For the girls’ team, it was nine undersized players, the tallest being 5-foot-8 center Taylor Woolard. To put that in perspective, the players on head coach Kirby Maness’ Riverside girls team average about 5-feet 9-inches with the tallest being 6-foot-1 freshman Kayla Jones. Traditionally, height coincides with performance in basketball. Rowe worked with what he had, and turned a random assortment of students into champions.
During the 2012-2013 season, the TEACH girls won the North Carolina Christian Conference regular season and tournament, dominating all who crossed the team’s path and finishing with a 24-4 record. That same season, Rowe tacked on a North Carolina Christian Athletic Association State Championship and a fourth-place finish in the National Association of Christian Athletes National Tournament to his resume.
In fact, it turns out that TEACH may have been too good. The N.C. Christian Conference determined before the start of the 2013-2014 season that TEACH would not be extended an invitation to return, likely due to its “homeschool” title.
Rowe’s defensive schemes might be to blame for the lack of a conference this season. Seemingly every offensive attack opposing teams throw at him, the TEACH girls have an answer.
It’s much of the same on offense. Rowe commands his team on the sidelines like a drill sergeant, calling out the oppositions’ defensive formation, which allows his team to adjust.
During TEACH’s final game of the regular season, Bethel Assembly employed a triangle and two defense in the first quarter. Once Rowe informed his team of the formation, they countered by swinging the ball quickly around the perimeter until the baseline eventually opened up.
Rowe’s basketball intelligence rubs off on all his players, who visibly listen to and respect their demanding head coach.
This season, the team’s hard work has continued to pay dividends. Right now, the TEACH girls basketball team is in Dayton, Tenn. for the NACA national tournament in hopes of improving on its fourth-place finish last year.
While Rowe will be gracing the sidelines for the last time, he’s left his mark on a small program with an unquestionably bright future.