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Student Article: From Player to Coach: A Reunion on the Court, by Gracie Fuqua

From Player to Coach: A Reunion on the Court

by Gracie Fuqua, Grade 11

In the world of sports, stories often come full circle. This article goes in-depth into this player-coach relationship. Shifting from playing on the court to now coaching for Sweet Home’s Boys Varsity Basketball Team, Coach Woods faces his former High School Coach, Coach Monaco. Coach Monaco is the head coach of Springville’s Boys Varsity Basketball team. From exclusive interviews, both coaches unravel the unique journey that has brought them back together.

This special moment took place on Tuesday, December 5th, at Sweet Home High School. The Sweet Home Panthers faced the Springville-Griffith Institute Griffins. The gym was filled with energy and both teams were warming up for an exciting night. Before the game, both coaches had many things to say. 

Insights and Reflections with Coach Woods  

What are your initial thoughts when you scheduled a game against Coach Monaco?

My initial thoughts were that we better be prepared because Coach Monaco will have this team mentally and physically prepared with a really good game plan. I also thought about how things have come full circle.

What was the biggest impact Coach Monaco made on your life?

The biggest impact that Coach Monaco has made on my life would be taking me under his wing by joining his staff back in 2009 which jump started my coaching career. This put me on a path towards becoming an educator by going back to school and obtaining my masters in School Counseling. We both challenged each other to make each other better.

Is there a particular experience that stands out to you the most about when you were an athlete playing for Coach Monaco?

I remember all of the battles we had against Williamsville East which were always memorable. I will always remember our Buff St. games my Junior and Senior year! The number of summer leagues we competed in at Gloria Parks, Lancaster Boys and Girls Club, Amherst Youth Summer Basketball at Clearfield. The battles my teammates and I would have with Coach, during competitive shooting as he would love to play classic rock and we were always trying to put on 93.7 WBLK. The way he would make everyone feel like they were a huge part of the program.

Beyond the Game with Coach Monaco

What is it like coaching against your former player?

It’s hard, I’m sure it is for him too. I love Brandon (Coach Woods) and he’s one of my favorite players. As we’ve gotten closer, I really didn’t want to coach against him. It’s hard, but it probably is for him too.

How confident are you in walking away with a win tonight?

I know they are good and I know that they are well coached. Coach Woods does such a great job. I know they were a very young team last year and they got everyone back this year. We are going to have to play our best to win. 

What is one memory you would like to share about Coach Woods when he was your player?

It’s not one thing in particular, but I remember whenever we got to the last two, three minutes of a game, if we had to lead, I would give the ball to Brandon. I would say, “Brandon, the ball is yours.” He would always take care of it. I am also very proud of him because after Williamsville South, he went and played at Cortland and I went to Cortland as well. I’m very proud he followed in my footsteps.

The transition from player to Coach, especially when coaching against a former mentor, creates an interesting layer to the world of sports. This unique story comes full circle as Coach Woods finds himself coaching against Coach Monaco, connecting them together, sharing a common goal, but at opposite ends of competition.