Leading the way: Fiery Coffman has Eagles soaring

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, January 12, 2019
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Rallying the Troops

RALLYING THE TROOPS – Decatur coach Drew Coffman reacts to a play during a game against Wichita Falls Rider. Over the past seven seasons, Coffman has compiled a 146-62 record since arriving at Decatur in 2012. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The game is still fresh on the mind of Decatur coach Drew Coffman, nearly two years later.

The Eagles met defending Class 4A champion Dallas Lincoln in the third round of the playoffs in 2017, taking the Tigers to overtime. But Lincoln proved to be too much down the stretch, downing Decatur 61-55 to end the Eagles’ season.

Coffman can recall the game in vivid detail, but what he remembers most was facing his team afterwards.

“It was hard walking into that locker room, seeing those faces after that game,” Coffman said. “That one was really tough. The four seniors on that team I loved with all my heart. You could tell they were really hurting.”

For the hyper-competitive coach, what stung more than losing was seeing his players upset.

“A lot of people don’t understand how much he cares about every player,” said Decatur grad Parker Hicks, who averaged 31.3 points on that 2017 team. “From all three years playing under him I could tell senior night was special for him. He makes sure to establish a personal relationship with everyone.”

Watchful Eye

WATCHFUL EYE – Decatur coach Drew Coffman barks out orders during a game against Argyle in 2018. Coffman has won 70.1 percent of his games in seven seasons with the Eagles. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Through all of his intense practices, drills and occasional one-sided conversations, Coffman will be the first to admit that he hates to lose.

In seven seasons at Decatur, Coffman has compiled a 146-62 record – winning 70.1 percent of his games. While winning is important, helping his athletes prepare for the real world has been paramount.

“[I’m] very demanding,” Coffman said. “I tell our parents in our parent meeting that I want our kids when they leave here to not have a boss that is more demanding than the one they just got done playing for.”

Coffman was a standout at Midland Lee High School, averaging 31 points, 7.2 assists and 5.6 rebounds during his senior season, earning all-state honors. He played collegiately at Texas Tech under Bob Knight, the notorious hotheaded, Hall of Fame coach who at one point while at Indiana, threw a chair across the court in a tirade.

Although he eventually transferred to Midwestern State, Coffman said he learned about a lot more than just basketball from Knight.

“I was an 18-year-old kid that thought I knew everything and I didn’t know a thing,” Coffman said.”I give him a lot of credit for my maturation and him being so demanding of us in all aspects of life – going to class, being a good citizen and doing the right thing.”

Coffman finished his degree at Midwestern State, recording the school’s second-best 3-point shooting season (45.1 percent). He later became the head coach at Hico, spending three seasons with the Tigers.

During the 2010-2011 season, Hico lost just four games, advancing to the region quarterfinals.

“He really knew how to push his players’ limits and get them to be hungry for every win,” said Chad Karels, a power forward from Hico’s 2010-2011 team. “[Coffman] is not only a connoisseur of the game, but he understands his players, what they can handle, and what kind of potential they have. He is what I call a championship coach – a coach that is unwilling to lose, no matter what.”

It’s that same mentality that has motivated Coffman and the rest of the Eagles this season.

Decatur went 17-17 last year – the worst record in Coffman’s tenure – and was bounced in the first round of the playoffs to eventual state runner-up Dallas Carter.

“We weren’t pleased at all last year going 17-17,” said Decatur senior Wilson Hicks. “We’re often reminded of that and remind ourselves of that. We have a chip on our shoulder and want to prove we’re much better than that. ”

Through 25 games, the Eagles have silenced their critics.

Decatur is off to one of its best starts at 22-3. The Eagles won the prestigious Whataburger Tournament over Christmas break and currently sit at No. 6 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches 4A poll.

“We carry a chip on our shoulder to go prove a point,” Coffman said. “We were picked third in our district. No preseason poll really had us anywhere in sight.”

Opponents are averaging just 44.6 points against Decatur’s stingy defense this season. The Eagles’ average margin of victory is 16.2 points.

Decatur has already knocked off several top-ranked teams in Class 4A, including Liberty Hill, Kennedale and District 8-4A foe Argyle.

“I think all of us knew going in [Coffman] demands a lot and expects a lot,” Wilson Hicks said. “We hold ourselves to a high standard, but he’s also the one to tell us we can be really good.

“I think he’s the best basketball coach in the state. My brother, [Parker], would probably say the same thing after going through him, too. Just the way he pushes us. He’s more than a coach – he’s a mentor.”

It’s been two years since Decatur has staked a claim to a district title. The Eagles shared the league title with Argyle in 2016-2017. Coffman won consecutive district titles in his first two seasons.

Decatur opens District 8-4A play at home Tuesday against cross-county rival Bridgeport, but Coffman and the rest of the Eagles have their eyes on much loftier goals.

“Being in this school, seeing other programs win state championships – cross country, volleyball, the success of our football team – I don’t know why we shouldn’t have the same aspirations to go do the same thing,” Coffman said.

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