Thursday, July 22, 2010

Changing Lanes: After 17 years as a referee, Knight steps back into coaching ranks

GREENVILLE — Although Calvin Knight was not on the Greenville Christian boys basketball staff last season, he got several up-close looks at the Saints basketball team who won a state title and rallied their way deep into the MAIS Overall Tournament.
No, he wasn't a spectator sitting in stands.
An opposing coach? Nope.
A scout? That's not it.
He was a referee.
And now after spending 17 1/2 years as an area high school referee, the former Killeen (Texas) High School basketball coach will trade in his striped shirts and black pants for a dress shirt and slacks on gamedays.
He gets to keep his whistle, though.
And with a military background and over 17 years enforcing rules on the basketball court, GCS players will have to step in line — and stay there. Along with an hour of academic studying before practice each day, players will be required to sign a contract agreeing to certain principals, Knight said.
"(The contract) is going to let them know what I expect from them first as young men, then as players," said the former staff sergeant. "I let them know that we're not going to be followers; we're going to be leaders."
Under Jason Morgan last year, the Saints soared high, finishing 35-2 while capturing a state title and a run in the MAIS Overall Tournament. Morgan, who left in May for a coaching position in Tennessee, won nearly 80 percent of his games at GCS (140-37).
Knight said he knows he has big shoes to fill.
"For the last three years, he's basically mended this team together," he said. "He did a great job with the players."
Knight, who said he came back to the area to care for his ailing mother, said he will instill in his players that hard work reaps rewards. And that lesson doesn't just carry over onto on the court — but also in life. For instance, his new players recently approached him with a concern that they had been dealing with.
"They came and told me, 'coach we don't have matching shoes,'" he recalled. "I asked them how bad do you want them? If you want them we have to go get them. We'll raffle off tickets to get (matching) shoes."
Last season, Greenville Christian, a small 1A private school, played area public schools Riverside and Greenville-Weston. They beat Riverside 79-69, but were outmatched by GWHS in a game dubbed "Backyard Battle" 73-36.
Knight said he looks to more showdowns with larger, public schools.
"I want to schedule (public schools) first," said Knight, who added that he has talked with Gentry about a potential matchup. "I've been calling around the Delta, trying to play anybody they will play against us. I hope I can schedule at least nine public school games.
"And we look forward to playing (GWHS) at our house if they accept," he continued. "We really want to get them back for that. (Scheduling public schools) will make us better against private school teams."
As for now, Knight is preparing for the season by getting to know his new players and adding new one's who didn't come out last year.
The father of four — three girls and a son — said he looks forward to a great season amongst a family atmosphere at GCS.
"For now on, I'll have three daughters and 33 sons," he said.

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