MU student enjoys coaching youth basketball

Monday, March 3, 2008 | 10:09 p.m. CST; updated 2:29 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008
Daniel Thode, coach of the Flying Squirrels youth basketball team, looks on as Kyle Peterson, right, drives down court with the ball in a game Saturday at Smithton Middle School.

COLUMBIA — MU junior Daniel Thode knew something was missing in his life. He discovered what it was one weekend last year when he went home to watch his younger brother’s basketball game.

“I got a basketball bug,” Thode said.

Now, the bug for Thode is fulfilled at least three times a week. Thode coaches a Columbia Youth Basketball Association boy’s team. His eighth- and ninth-grade team, the Flying Squirrels, practices twice a week and has a game each Saturday.

Besides getting involved with a sport that is close to his heart, Thode says coaching is not just about him. He wants to his players grow and succeed both on and off the basketball court.

“I tend to give each player individually a set goals or a particular focus for that week of practice,” Thode said. “If they work on that specific aspect of their game it will help them improve as a player and also help the team as well.”

Growing up, Thode said the coaches who meant the most to him were the one’s who took the time to show they cared about any offcourt issues a player was having, and that’s something Daniel Thode tries to do.

“I like to know what’s going on in the guys lives outside of basketball,” Thode said. “I let them know that if they have a question or need something that they can let me know.”

Although this is his first full year as a coach, Thode said he used to help his dad as an assistant coach growing up in the Kansas City suburb of Raytown.

From his dad, Thode learned the lessons of how to be a successful coach and said he is thankful for that experience.

Thode has another family member helping him coach basketball. His brother, Scott Thode, is the assistant coach and is there for each practice and game. A freshman at MU, Scott Thode started coaching for the love of the game.

“I’ve always loved the game of basketball, I played it in high school and I wanted to stay in some way attached to the game,” Scott Thode said. “I thought the best way to stay attached would be coaching.”

The time demands of coaching and going to school are something that the Thode brothers are aware of and concerned about, but they also see it as an asset.

“I think it’s more of my chance too relax, I take 18 hours and I’m in several organizations on campus and so this is more of my chance to get away from the college student theme,” Daniel Thode said. “I think it helps me.”

Scott Thode said, “When it comes to trying to manage my studies, I take into consideration practice times and game times. It does take effort on my part, however it’s not a burden. But I definitely have to use my time management skills.”

Daniel Thode said while he was worried before the season about his relative inexperience, he says it helps him form a closer bond with his players.

“I think me being closer in age helps,” Daniel Thode said. “You know what’s going through their minds and you have a better idea of what the kids like to do at practice. I just think they see us as friends as opposed to an authority figure.”

Daniel Thode said coaching so far has been an awesome experience and something he will never forget. One moment that stands out to Daniel Thode thus far is one of his team’s first games.

“In one of our first games of the season, the other team had players from the same school as my players,” Daniel Thode said. “They were talking all week about how they were going to beat us by 50 points, and then to come in and only lose by five to them was a big deal. It shocked our players and gave them the mind set for the rest of the season that they could be good basketball players.”

The Flying Squirrels season is almost over, but Scott Thode said that though his team has had its share of difficulties, his team continues to improve.

“I think every team struggles at some point.,” Scott Thode said. “Teaching people how to compete both on and off the court is the best part.”

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