LA PINE —
Amid the echoing din of the gymnasium and the squeaking of sneakers, Brian Broaddus could be heard encouraging his players during an early-season practice.
“Hustle and rebound!” the coach implored. “More arch! Too slow! Ball side, screen away!”
All things he might have yelled at a boys basketball practice at Mountain View High over the last three seasons. But this time he was commanding a girls practice at La Pine.
The move from a Class 5A boys basketball program to 3A girls might seem like a curious one for a veteran coach, but Broaddus has his reasons. And in La Pine, the self-described “country boy” — he was raised in tiny Pleasant Hill in rural Lane County — has found a place where he feels he is needed and he knows he can truly make a difference.
“It’s ground zero,” said Broaddus, referring to what he has found in La Pine. “They haven’t been … there’s no youth program. They were 4-20 last year, 0-10 in league, and they were losing games by 50 points. So it’s kind of a nice change just to get back to the love of the game, just working with kids in the sport of basketball, versus chasing that title, chasing the scholarship for this kid and that kid … different challenges.”
Broaddus, who replaced 15-year Mountain View coach Craig Reid in 2015, coached the Cougars to Intermountain Conference championships in two of his three seasons there.
Before that, he had stints as a head coach at high-profile schools such as Nevada’s Incline High near Lake Tahoe and Idaho’s Bonneville High School in Idaho Falls.
The high-pressure grind of coaching big-time high school boys basketball, combined with the sudden death of his father last year, left the 46-year-old husband and father of three uncertain about his future.
“The last two years were tough and I debated coaching or not coaching,” said Broaddus, whose father died of a heart attack at 70. “This is my 22nd year coaching. Now with three kids … and losing a dad, you start to re-evaluate what’s important in life.”
Needing time this past summer to help his mother prepare to move to a smaller home in Redmond — and also realizing he needed a change — conflicted with his coaching duties and the commitment that he says the Mountain View administration and some parents expected of him. He ultimately resigned as the Cougars coach in June, and he took the La Pine job shortly thereafter, replacing departing coach Sam Ramirez. Broaddus still teaches PE, as well as weightlifting and basketball classes, at Mountain View and drives to La Pine from Bend for daily practices. (Bob Townsend, a volunteer assistant for Broaddus at Mountain View, took over as the new Cougars coach.)
“So family comes first for me,” Broaddus said, adding that he considered staying out of coaching for a year or two. “But I love coaching, and I love working with kids, and this was a chance to stay in the district and not have to move. It’s been about eight or nine years of a high-level grind for me. It was physically killing me. At the (5A and 6A) level, it’s 24/7 all year long, parents want this and that. It’s tough. So I was like, OK, I’ve got to take care of my mom, and I’ve got to take care of me.”
Since resigning from coaching at Mountain View, Broaddus said, he has lost 18 pounds and his blood pressure has dropped dramatically. And he has settled into his role leading the La Pine girls, who are 1-2 so far this season after defeating Lost River 43-41 on Saturday.
He admits it has been an adjustment — not just the stark change from 5A boys to 3A girls, but also the 45-minute commute from Mountain View to La Pine and not teaching at the same school at which he coaches.
“It’s tested my patience,” Broaddus admitted. “It’s very different. In Bend, I had to deal with different things.” His players at Mountain View, he said, “were very skilled, good shooters, maybe not as tough as I wanted them in certain things. Here (in La Pine), they’re tough, eager to learn. The skills aren’t there because they’re not doing it year-round. Kids in Bend are playing basketball year-round. These girls either go three sports, or they work (have jobs)… they’re not picking up a ball until November 12 when we have tryouts.”
Broaddus added that his team made just 4 of 16 free throws and committed 35 turnovers in its first game last Wednesday, a 35-29 loss to Culver. Still, he is encouraged by the improvement he is seeing from the Hawks. He called himself a “super-competitive coach who hates to lose,” but for the first time in his career, he said, he was actually happy and encouraged after a loss.
“Just to see the growth, after 11 practices, from the first day when we couldn’t catch, we couldn’t do a three-man weave,” Broaddus said. “So it’s exciting, if they buy in and they keep working, to see how far we can go. It’s fun. It’s new. It’s new for them, it’s new for me. Sometimes we can kind of get in a rut, and change is good.”
The players are encouraged and excited as well. They are aware of Broaddus’ success as a boys basketball coach.
“He’s definitely more intense, and I like it,” said senior point guard Cortney Wolf. “I’ve never really had a coach yell at me in a game, so it was kind of exciting. It was exciting that HE was so jacked up about it. It’s fun to have an enthusiastic coach that just wants to win. It’s a really great feeling, for sure. I think we’ll definitely be better.”
Autumn Gerard, a junior guard/wing, was out for the first game with a broken nose suffered in practice, so she had the chance to study Broaddus on the sidelines as he coached.
“He pushes us more and we blend together more,” Gerard said. “He makes us feel more capable. We do more technical stuff skillwise and we go over more plays. I feel very much that we can be pretty successful this season.”
Broaddus said he has coached JV and middle school girls basketball, but this is his first time as a girls varsity head coach. He said he does not necessarily need to change his coaching style, but he is well-aware of the differences between boys and girls players and the pros and cons of each.
“Girls can get a little more emotional, depending on what happens during the day with their friends and this and that, but they’re very, very coachable,” Broaddus said. “They listen and if you say, ‘screen here and go there,’ they do it. Boys have much more verticality. The game’s above the rim and there’s more athleticism. But sometimes they think they know it all and they’re a little tougher to coach that way.”
Broaddus and his wife have two daughters in high school at Mountain View and a 3-year-old son. He said they are considering a move closer to La Pine to buy a home with some land.
“It was a tough decision,” Broaddus said of his coaching move, “but once I did it, I’ve never regretted it.”