On a Tuesday evening in December, surrounded by his varsity and JV players, head basketball coach Lee Green’s voice boomed through the Penson Athletic Center gym, “You can’t force hard work,” he said, “It’s something that you have to do with heart.”
New to Hockaday this year, both Green and assistant coach Robyn Fullum, have continually repeated this message to inspire their girls to play with passion.
This trait is something that Green has plenty of. He brings a total of 10 years of coaching experience and a true love of the game to Hockaday’s basketball program.
Green started his basketball career in high school and continued at the collegiate level through the University of North Texas’ basketball program.
Green was familiar with the Hockaday team even before coming to the school, as he was the head coach for the Trinity Christian Academy and homeschool teams.
Because of this experience, Director of Athletics Tina Slinker had heard of Green long before she hired him as the head coach.
“He played at the UNT while I was there, and he brings such vast experience and deep passion to the game,” Slinker said.
And Green, on the other hand, was drawn to Hockaday by the school’s close-knit basketball community.
“There is a very athletic and intelligent team here at Hockaday,” Green said. “[The girls] are like family and support one another.”
The basketball team’s history has been marked by drastic changes in leadership, including three sets of different coaches over the past three years. But Green sees his position at Hockaday as a lasting one because he wants to ensure that the program is being built correctly.
“My goal is to stay here for 20 more years,” Green said, “I’m 35, and I could be here until I am 55.”
Fullum echoed his philosophy of instilling a lifelong love of basketball in members of the team.
“I just wanted to come and be a stable part to the upward trend to this team, and I was grateful that coach Slinker gave me this opportunity,” Fullum said.
Fullum can also be seen outside of the court as she balances her coaching position with a role as a Hockaday security officer.
“As security officers, we do have the privilege of being able to interact with every area of Hockaday, from the administration to the boarding department,” Fullum said. “But I love being able to interact with the players and learn from them.”
She also believes that her two positions affect her coaching style and personality on the court. “I think the value of those different positions is that it allows [the players] to see different sides of me.”
With the change in leadership also comes a new set of goals for the team, which includes making the SPC championship. To do this, Green has implemented a stronger focus on understanding basketball strategy, rather than solely depending on sheer athleticism.
“The more they can understand the plays, the less they have to rely on athleticism,” Green said.
But Green recognizes that winning is not the team’s only goal. “At some point, it is about building a basketball foundation so that when the girls step on the court, they are confident,” he said.
Freshman and JV basketball player Kate Petersen is optimistic about the future of the team and the high standards that the new coaches have set.
“I think that these coaches can really change the program. In the next couple of years, by time we are seniors, we can have a good program,” Petersen said.
– Eshani Kishore – Features Editor