Recently, WBOC Sports had the opportunity to interview Pocomoke boy’s basketball head coach Derrick Fooks. We learned about his background and his insight to being a successful coach.
Can you give us a general understanding of your background?
I am 50 years young. I have coached basketball for 26 years, I was an assistant coach for one year at UMES in 1988. Then I moved on to become junior varsity basketball coach at Pocomoke High School in 1989. I took a Physical Education teaching job at Bohemia Manor High in 1994 and became varsity basketball coach there in 1995. I relocated back to the eastern shore in 1997 and began coaching the junior varsity program again at Pocomoke. In 2003, I took over as boys varsity basketball coach following the retirement of the 27 year veteran and mentor Mr. David Byrd. From that time to the present, I have compiled a 244-101 record as a varsity head coach. In those 12 years, I have made two state finals appearances and 4 final fours.
I was born in Berlin, Maryland on September 16, 1965, raised all my life here on the eastern shore. I started out my college career at Delaware Technical & Community College in the fall of 1983 after graduating from Stephen Decatur. In 1985, I transferred to UMES and majored in Physical Education. I played basketball for the Hawks in 1986-88. The experience was great, the opportunity of a life time to play Division I basketball. For someone who came out of high school with no basketball prospects to end up being one of the only Division I Basketball players ever to come out of Stephen Decatur, that was a major accomplishment!!! To travel across the country to many states I never dreamed I would see, priceless! One of the greatest experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything
How did you get involved with coaching and what do you like about it?
I’ve always played basketball and loved it, never thought I was special or anything, but I loved the challenge. Growing up, I used to watch my Rec. league coaches, Mr. Pennewell and it just became a part of me. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some great mentors, Bill Riddick, Ray Moore, Tyrone Mills, Louis Taylor and David Byrd. All of them played a big role in me making a decision to be a coach. Its the motivation and determination that drives me to coach, seeing kids do things that they didn’t think possible. We all want to win, but to see kids be team players and believe in one common goal is why I do this. This game is not just about basketball, its about the life lessons they learn and how to be men on and off the court, that’s my motivation. Life is bigger than basketball.
Under your guidance, the Pocomoke boys basketball team has been a consistent contender in the Bayside Conference. How do you continue your winning tradition year after year?
We build programs at Pocomoke, not teams. This way, you will be consistent every year. Everyone knows that when you play Pocomoke, regardless of the talent, you know you are in for a 32 minute battle. The athletes have to by in to what you are selling, this is the way to stay in the mix every year.
What keeps you going? What motivates you?
I love the game. As long as I have young men that will battle, fight, and push all the way to the end, I will stay at it. That’s my motivation, Stay the course.
Can you touch on the feeder program you have for basketball at Pocomoke? A lot of these young men have a ball in their hand at very young age, which ultimately helps the varsity team down the road.
Unfortunately other than AAU, our kids do not get the exposure that they have had in the past. With the Rec. program in Pocomoke all but dissolved and the Salvation Army closed, we have to rely on these kids just being motivated to be the best and go out and work at it.
Everybody has different coaching tactics and philosophies. What are some of yours?
Defense first, everything else after that is a bonus. If you can’t defend, then you are at a stale mate, you score, I score! It’s often been said, “Offense wins games, Defense wins Championships.” Sooner or later, it’s coming.
Every year the Pocomoke boys basketball team is one of the hunted. Everybody wants to beat you. How does your program embrace that challenge every game?
We look forward to the challenge, Not that we have 5 or 6 basketball championships banners hanging in the rafters, Its the Pocomoke tradition of winning in all sports that keeps us motivated.
How would you describe the quality of basketball here on the Shore and in the Bayside Conference?
I think the quality has improved over the years, we are able not just to get across the water, but be competitive with all teams. So I think that the Bayside is looking up! On any given night, if you are not ready to play, you can get beat.
What advice would you give to high school student-athletes hoping to play any sport at the collegiate level?
Hard work pays off! Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Start early. Stay Late, because the next guy is doing that and then some!