It’s halftime of our 6th grade basketball game for Arrowhead Basketball Club. We are down 14. The team is down on themselves, looking at the scoreboard, and then back down at the ground, waiting for coach to come over. Suddenly, a burst of enthusiasm comes from Coach Gripp. He asks, “Why are you so down?” Then, he points at the scoreboard and says, “We got another 16 minutes left. We got plenty of time.” We suddenly looked at the game differently.
The fact that he never gave up, made him such a great coach and educator. When we won that game, he remind us of what he said at halftime, smiled and told us that we can do anything we put our mind to and focus on.
In practice, he pushed us to to be our best. What I liked about Coach was that he liked to have fun with us. But when we needed to be serious, he got us locked in. If we got too much out of line or didn't pay attention, we would have to run, but that taught us to pay attention and not get too off task.
After practice, If my shots weren't falling, coach would stay after and fix my shot. We would stay and shoot free throws, elbow jump shots and 3’s from the top of the key and the corner. Some practices, when I stayed after, I would have to make 20 free throws in a row or 10 3’s in a row before I could leave. This taught me to work hard and never stop trying.
I loved his practices, because he always made it about the players and we practiced things we needed to work on. Sometimes he would separate us and focus on what our position would do in games. I was a shooting guard, so he put me with the other two players who played shooting guard and he let us play horse, shoot free throws or have a 3-point contest between the three of us. This made the practice better, and we didn't even realize that we were getting better in the process.
He also kept us on our toes and put us in weird situations. In one game, we were playing a team with a really tall player—about 6’3” and not skinny. This was back in sixth grade, so for our team he was a monster. But when coach puts me back in the game, he tells me to guard him. With me being about 5’ 2”, it was a mismatch, but on both ends. The way coach looked at it was they would be confused on who everyone was guarding and it would create open shots. It ended up working out well and we won the game, so coach made a good move.
Overall he was a great coach, educator and also a great person.