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Mike Winters shares basketball coaching musts in “The Journey: Lessons From the Hardwood”

Winters sat down to write last year when the basketball season was canceled due to COVID and had the whole book written by January 2021
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “It’s just something that you can’t replace when you walk away from that,” said Coach Mike Winters. “It’s a piece of you you know you can’t get back unless you get back in there and do exactly what you were doing before.”

Winters has spent 18 varsity basketball seasons as head coach at various high schools. He now heads the Harlem Huskies with a decorated resume including leading three programs to the state tournament and opening his coaching career with 14 consecutive winning seasons.

His new book “The Journey: Lessons From the Hardwood” tells readers everything he’s learned along the way.

“What is the number one piece of advice that if anyone could take anything away from your book that you would want them to read?” I asked him.

“When I was young, I went to coaches clinics, and they told us we couldn’t be friends with our players, and I didn’t find anything further from the truth,” Winters said. “I think you have to be really good at defining roles like when we’re between the lines over there, it’s this relationship, but when it’s outside those lines it can be different.”

Winters said relationships are the core of basketball, even to the point where he will have the special opportunity of coaching his son Brandon at the varsity level next season. Culture and team building are also common themes in his story.

“Who is your primary audience that you want to be selling copies to?”

“Anybody in a leadership position I hope can take some things away from this,” he said. “I think veteran coaches. I think new coaches. I think you adopt the mentality as a coach. You’re always in a growth state of mind. You’re coaching and always looking for that one thing here and there, and as I’ve gotten older going to coaches clinics and reading books, it’s always just trying to find one or two things that I can implement.”

Winters sat down to write last year when the basketball season was canceled due to COVID-19. He had the whole book written by January 2021, and it hit the shelves in August.

He not only shares the perks of watching players he’s coached reach professional teams but also about his supportive basketball family and even some of his trials as a young coach.

“My first year as a freshman coach, I was 20 years old,” Winters said. “I think we won four games, and man I thought I was terrible, and if I had quit at that... but then I didn’t have a losing season until my 15th year as a head coach after that, so it’s amazing if you stick with it, and you’re passionate about it, and you build relationships. I think it’s more about building relationships than it is exes and ohs and everything else. I think if you can get kids to play hard for you, you’re off to a great start.”

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