About Matt Kramer
Some people look back at their careers and realize they spent their lives working a job; I look back at my job and realize my career has actually been a way of life. See, I have coached high school basketball for the past 31 years—18 of those as a head coach in two different states (Ohio and Georgia)—so my life’s journey has literally been guided by the bouncing ball. Because so much of a coaching life is spent pursuing victories and other accomplishments that validate a career in the eyes of the public, I find it ironic that it was in a locker room after a victory that sent my 2016 team to the Georgia big school State Final 4 where I realized for certain that such had never been my purpose. Don’t get me wrong, winning games definitely is–and should be—a goal. But as I looked around the locker room that night—after a win that many point to as the crown jewel on my resume—there was something wildly unfulfilling about the moment that took me back 12 years to a much different locker room. On a frigid Saturday night back in the winter of 2004, in small-town Ohio, the varsity high school basketball team that I led walked into a cramped locker room at halftime trailing 44-8. Yes, forty-four to eight!
Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I am 100% certain that it was that night, and what I did to serve that program over the course of the next 5 seasons that validates my career, not the Final 4 in 2016. Of course, there’s more to the story, like the 3 freshmen who were in the varsity rotation on that bitter February night in 2004 standing on a ladder in March of 2007 as seniors cutting down district championship nets after earning a trip to Ohio’s Division II Sweet 16—easily the greatest single moment of my coaching career. But, to me, it was everything that happened in between that makes me believe that I have something to offer what I call “The 98% Club” of high school coaches—those who dedicate a lifetime to serving young people while striving to make the average basketball program relevant, with no expectation of ever being inducted into any coaching hall of fame. Yes, it was a long, challenging journey from that cramped locker room in 2004 to climbing those ladders after earning the right to be considered among the state of Ohio’s elite about 37 months later—an odyssey that included plenty of difficult discussions and decisions, not to mention dodging the firing squad that has become a part of the high school coaching culture. But the resilience it required to fight through those challenges, build relationships, and lead young people at a time when many would have given up and quit—to take nothing away from my 2016 Final 4 team—was without a doubt what a coaching life is all about for a Club 98’er like me.
About Randy Montgomery
Randy Montgomery’s coaching career began in 1980 as an assistant coach on the first coaching staff of Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Fame Coach Bob Huggins at Walsh College (North Canton, Ohio). Four decades and over 600-wins later, Coach Montgomery has been inducted into 2 hall-of-fames of his own—the Wayne County (Oh) Sports Hall in 1998 and the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2021.
During his long, distinguished career, Randy Montgomery’s teams at Triway High School (Wooster, Ohio) and North Canton Hoover High School combined to win 16 conference championships, 7 District Championships (Ohio’s Sweet 16), 2 Regional Championships (Ohio’s Final 4), and 3 Ohio Associated Press State Poll Championships, all of which led to countless coach-of-the-year awards, including State of Ohio Coach of the Year in 1991, 2000, and 2004.
In short, Randy Montgomery is a coach and leader who mastered a career that very few master, and he now shares in his new book, A Coaching Life (co-authored with friend and colleague Matt Kramer), many of the ideas that guided him through his hall-of-fame career.