USA TODAY High School Sports is unveiling the 2016-17 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Basketball Teams as selected by Jim Halley with input from high school coaches and recruiting experts.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Evina Westbrook, South Salem (Salem, Ore.)
Name: Joe Lombard
School: Canyon, Amarillo, Texas
Details: Has a career record of 1,292-120 in 39 seasons of coaching girls basketball. Was named to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last summer. He has won 19 state titles, including six in his first seven years at Nazareth and 13 in 32 years at Canyon, including the 5A state title this past season, his fourth consecutive state title. He was also the 2003 ALL-USA Coach of the Year. His wife, Babs, and son Tate have won state girls basketball titles at other schools. His daughter, Lindy Slagle, is in her third year as the girls basketball coach and girls athletic coordinator at Grapevine.
My players say my best quality is: My passion for the game.
Greatest achievement: In the big picture of things, I just enjoy teaching and part of what we’re supposed to do as coaches is help your kids develop a work ethic, team play, responsibility, accountability, and get along with others. We hope to instill some character traits that will help them in the outside world.
Failure I learned from: I think failure is one of the most important things that you get better from. Losing a close game and not being able to execute at the end of the game has helped me learn to keep things simple and rehearse and practice those late-game situations. Dealing with young people, you must develop relationships. Let those players know that you’re interested in them as a person, not just as a player. Get the kids to play to their strengths. Sometimes as coaches, we can be set in our ways, but maybe the kids can’t do it your way.
Outside of sports, I am inspired by: I love to read books on leadership by John Maxwell and Jon Gordon. They’re based on Christian values. People like that really inspire me. This past year, another person who has inspired me is Tatum Schulte, the (9-year-old) daughter of our boys basketball coach. She has cancer and she has been a huge inspiration to our team. The slogan is ‘Tough like Tatum.’ That motto has helped us throughout this season.
I’m most likely to sing along to: I do like some Lady Gaga stuff. The Edge of Glory is one that comes to mind. She did a great job at the Super Bowl. I would also say anything from the Beatles.
Typical breakfast: Oatmeal with blueberries and pecans.
How many technicals: I’ve had two technicals in my career. I don’t get into the officials. I just try to coach the team. I know officials make mistakes, just like we do. My first technical was for the seat-belt rule when I stood up to give directions to the players. Then, a year ago, I entered the players’ names in a scorebook and I had left a player’s name off, so that was another technical.
Last movie I saw: The Shack. My wife and I love to go to the movies.
Favorite teacher: When I was younger, a couple of guys were favorites. Dave Riley was my middle school coach (at Franklin Junior High in Fort Wayne, Ind.) and By Hey was my high school coach at Fort Wayne North. (Both Riley and Hey are in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame).
Could play my story: I wish I could say Clint Eastwood. How about closer to Gene Hackman?
Funniest thing to happen recently: We had our first grandchild, Owen, and I looked a little awkward handling Owen. I didn’t drop him, but when he started crying, I was ready to pass him off. If he needed a diaper, it wasn’t going to be me.
A year from now, I will be: Doing whatever God leads me. I still enjoy coaching. A year from now, I’ll be eligible for Medicare. I could be just following our grandkids around and babysitting, as our son is expecting his first child.
Biggest name on my phone: I don’t I have any big names. I did get a congratulations from Art Briles last year on my phone.
Favorite app on my phone: ESPN. I’m not a big app person, but I do enjoy following basketball on ESPN and I try to watch as many games as I can.