Southfield High boys basketball coach sees game as series of life lessons

By: Christian Davis | Southfield Sun | Published March 24, 2011

 Southfield High boys basketball coach Gary Teasley has been with the Blue Jays 14 seasons and once again led them to the Class A quarterfinal.

Southfield High boys basketball coach Gary Teasley has been with the Blue Jays 14 seasons and once again led them to the Class A quarterfinal.

Photo by Andrew Sparkes

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SOUTHFIELD — Gary Teasley’s love affair with the game of basketball began more than 40 years ago.

The Southfield High boys basketball coach remembers getting his first pair of basketball shoes —Converse All Stars with red shoelaces — as an 8-year-old.

Years later, he remembers sitting in front of the TV in his northwest Detroit home watching Detroit Pershing play in the 1970 Class A state championship.

“I remember I was so excited. I didn’t know what a Doughboy was, but I knew it was from the west side,” Teasley said of the Pershing mascot as his team began practice March 17. “I can tell you almost every state champion all the way back to the ‘60s and guys that made All-State. I’ve just kept up with that over the years, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Teasley didn’t play for the Doughboys, but instead made his mark at Detroit Mackenzie. After four years of basketball and graduating in 1973, he took his skills to Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.

Upon graduation, Teasley played professionally for two years in France.

“I remember listening to Michigan State’s national championship with Magic on the radio,” he said.

Soon after, Teasley returned home and traded in his basketball shoes for a whistle when he began coaching at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit — the same league where Teasley first used his Converse All Stars.

That was the beginning of a coaching career, which has lasted 34 years. The last 14 of those years have been at Southfield.

“It’s starting to sneak up on me. I still feel young; I can’t believe it,” he said.

This season, the veteran has led Southfield to the Class A quarterfinals for the second straight, and fourth ever, time.

The Blue Jays played East Detroit March 22, after press time. The winner moves into the semis March 25 in East Lansing. Southfield lost in the semis a season ago.

“The one thing that has helped us the most at this point is that they understand they have an opportunity, and you have to fight until the clock runs out,” Teasley said.

More than wins and losses, getting kids to recognize what the sport is all about is what has driven him all these years.

“This is, for me, an opportunity to help them grow. What I get a kick out of is trying to get the kids to understand the game — from being a good person off the floor to being able to understand relationships. All of those things are part of the game,” he said.

In disciplinary instances, Teasley said he’s more than willing to take a loss if it means teaching one of his players a life lesson.

“Basketball was always a game that I thought was bigger than life. But now as an adult, I realize it’s not,” he said.

Senior Carlton Brundidge has played four years under Teasley and said the coach has helped him mature.

“He just taught me how to become a man,” Brundidge said. “He told me about organization, and told me how to express myself and turn negative energy into positive energy on the court.”

Senior David Dawson, who’s played three seasons for Teasley, echoed those thoughts.

“In his program, it’s all about toughness,” he said. “He’s helped me be a better young man and an adult.”

Teasley’s unique view of the game hasn’t changed his unbridled enthusiasm for it.

“My passion has not changed at all. I get really excited about basketball. I’ve always admired high school basketball around Michigan. It’s a tradition; it’s almost like Thanksgiving,” he said. “I’m just getting started in a way.”

 

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