• Peter Miller

Coaches are important educational leaders in our schools, communities, and universities. The Sport and the Growing Good (SGG) podcast provides embedded, front-line insights on winning and positive development. The SGG podcast can be heard here and on all major podcast platforms.

Marques Flowers is the head coach of the girls basketball team at James Madison Memorial High School. After a highly successful playing career alongside his brothers, Coach Flowers has elevated the Memorial team to new heights. His program is one of the best in the state and Coach Flowers is making a positive impact on many lives – both as a coach and as a social worker at the school. In this episode of the SGG podcast, we discussed:

1.  His early love of sports and how his moves from Chicago to Iowa to Wisconsin shaped his family’s opportunities.

2.  Being the big brother in his family: leading by example.

3.  Playing for Cecil Youngblood at Beloit College, who invested in Marques “not just as a basketball player, but as an African American young man.”

4.  His mother: the values that she modeled every day, her sacrifices, and her commitment to finding ways for her boys to pursue their talents and interests, even amid financial challenges.

5.  The funny story about when his mom assembled a basketball hoop.

6.  Why Marques keeps costs down for participating in his program.

7.  Basketball as a meditative and therapeutic activity for kids.

8.  “Sometimes you just gotta roll the balls out and let the kids play.”

9.  Why having safe spaces for girls to play hoops is especially important.

10.  “The way you play is the way you live…If you want to become a better basketball player, you also have to think about what’s happening in other aspects of your life.”

11.  “Our goal is not to make themselves the best basketball players they can be, but the best people they can be.”

12.  The importance of connections: “You can’t win with people you don’t know.”

13.  The value of having a diverse program and school.

14.  The complementarity of his social work and coaching roles.

15.  “Sports give kids a low risk environment to practice resiliency. Nobody’s lights are going to get turned off, nobody’s going to lose a meal if they turn the ball over.”

16.  “If you’re doing it right, your kids should be connected to each other to the point where they can tell when someone’s going through something.”

17.  “Sport is a place where kids can learn to trust.”

18.  “Sport forces you to be vulnerable. Being on a team forces you to be vulnerable. It also forces you to learn how to connect with people. And empathize.”

19.  “I wish everybody in our country could get that understanding that we are all connected. If I’m not doing well, you’re not doing well…If we’re not aligned as a community around the idea that all of us have value and all of us matter, it’s hard to be successful…If we have pockets of our community that are not thriving, then that brings us all to a place where we’re not thriving. And that’s what team sports teach you.”

20.  “The goal was to create a community and to create a sense of belonging.”