Kyle Owens, in his first year at Clements High School coaching the boys basketball team, is looking to establish his desired culture early on while winning some games in the process.
At the very least, Owens has been pleased with the excitement in the air surrounding the Clements area.
“So far, I have been pleasantly surpised how they have taken to me, how hard they want to work every day and everybody is just genuinely excited. The excitement is in the air,” Coach Owens said. “It is not about if we are going to win games or how we are going to play. It is that everybody is just excited to be playing basketball.”
Owens called his schedule “challenging.”
“You got to go up against West Limestone, you know what they are going to bring. We have to share a region with Elkmont, who you know is going to play tough. Lauderdale County is going to play tough. We are all trying to move in a quick and fast pace to learn what we can do. We cannot worry about what other teams are doing; we have to find out ‘what is our identity?’”
Clements is still in the feeler stage of Owens’ tenure, as he was hired late and did not get much of an offseason – or preseason for that matter – with his players.
While they are not using this as an excuse for the result of games, Coach Owens does recognize the reality of getting high school kids to adjust quickly to a new system.
“We are trying to feel each other out. Different kids all learn differently. We are just trying to get used to each other, get used to the sound of my voice,” he said. “It is really not about who we are going to play, but how we are going to play.”
Coach Owens calls the leadership for players who have stepped up a “pleasant surpise,” as the departure of last year’s senior, Dylan Patrick, has left a leadership role ready to be filled.
According to Owens, multiple players have stepped up wanting to fill this role.
He also gives credit to former coach Mike Holt, who helped establish a good foundation before his departure as an administrator in the Athens City Schools system.
Two seniors stepping up this year are Jame Putman and Brady Moore – two football playmakers – who now hit the court and are also recipients of high praise from Coach Owens.
“They’re coming in and taking over that leaderhsip part of it. I don’t have to get on to the players for everything. Jame and Brady are going to make sure they are there, they are on time and doing everything they need to do in practice.”
Moore has a reputation for holding players accountable, as he would drive football teammates to practice if they did not have a ride, as skipping is not an option.
Additionally, other players have stepped up, according to Owens.
This includes Jayden Gilbert and Kolbie Turner, also upperclassmen.
“We are not short of any leaders on this basketball team this year,” Owens said.