Coach Tim Speraw- Lebanon interview

Written by: on Monday, October 29th, 2018


LLhoops finally connected with Coach Tim Speraw. He has quite a history with the Cedars and shares his thoughts on various topics. LLhoops learned a lot about the Cedars program. Enjoy!

You are entering the 9th season as the head coach for the Cedars. You are getting close to the longest coaching stint in the Cedar history of the LL. What are the keys to keeping your program going?
The biggest key to our program is our Biddy Basketball Program (youth program) and consistency of coaches at all levels.  I have had the luxury of having the same Biddy coordinator, George Kreiser, in place for my entire tenure.  Coach Kreiser, along with his staff of volunteers, keep that program executing at a high level.  That leads right into our middle school staff that has been intact for almost my whole tenure. 
The second biggest key is consistency with our principles and vision.  Obviously, basketball itself is a huge focus for any basketball program.  However, we never lose sight of trying to build the character of these young men.  We hold them accountable for their actions in and out of the classroom and strive to make them better young men through basketball.

2)   How do you deal with the ups and downs of coaching from year to year and game to game.
It’s Its difficult because it’s definitely a grind in the year to year aspect.  Coaching basketball, especially at Lebanon, is a year long job.  We don’t take any months off, just a couple weeks after the season and at the end of summer.  We’re constantly working with the kids in the gym, the weight room and keeping an eye on academics.  You need a supportive family and my wife understands the grind.  She doesn’t always like it, but she understands what it takes to be successful.  In terms of game to game, it’s a matter of being organized, staying true to your vision, and having a short memory.  You don’t have time to harp on the last game or a bad practice because you have to get ready for the tomorrow’s game or practice.  Surrounding yourself with a good staff is a huge key to keep you balanced and focused as a head coach.   

3) You shared some info about the Hall of Fame for the Cedars. Can you share with our followers who is in this year and how you were/are influenced by the inductees? Are there others in the hall that you have had close contact with during you tenure?
Four of this year’s inductees have a strong connection to me as a person and a coach.  Coach John Barnhart was my high school coach.  He got the most out of a fairly unathletic 6’0” guard.  He allowed me the freedom to be a coach on the court to my teammates.  A lot of his philosophies and techniques carry over in to my X’s and O’s.  He also gave me my first coaching opportunity when I was a somewhat lost 20-year old.  His coaching influence will always be with me and I have tremendous respect for what he accomplished and did for his players. 
Coach Paul Blackburn is also getting inducted.  He gave me my first varsity position on his staff after graduating college and getting a teaching position at Lebanon.  He has also had a big influence on my coaching philosophies.  I use a lot of the same terminology, which gets interesting when we play each other.  I also learned a lot from Coach Blackburn on dealing with kids…attitudes, emotions, and day to day problems that arise in high school kids.  He has a awesome outlook and he’s someone I still look to for advice from time to time. 
Coach Carlos Sanchez is also getting inducted.  When I began coaching, I was two doors away from Coach in our hallway.  We always talked basketball and life.  I’ve often said, “if you don’t like Los, you just have problems” because he’s about as nice of a person as you can meet.  I coached girls basketball under him for two years.  It was an invaluable experience switching over to the girls side.  I learned a lot in terms of basketball and how to deal with team dynamics (did I say I was coaching girls?…haha).  When Carlos resigned and I later became head coach for the boys, I constantly bugged him to join my staff.  He finally did and it was awesome to have “the band back together again”.  It’s so much more fun to coach with someone like Los by your side. 
Anthony Trautman is also getting inducted.  He was a freshman my first year under Coach Blackburn.  Our varsity team was senior laden and loaded that year, winning the LL Championship.  Anthony started as a sophomore and never looked back.  I still say to teams today, that he was always the first to the gym and the last to leave.  There were times, we’d have to call his parents to tell them he was OK and that we were still just shooting in the gym, 1-2 hours after practice ended.  We played one on one after every practice and stayed to get a couple hundred more shots up.  He finished his career at LVC as the Conference Player of the Year.  That was like a “proud dad” moment knowing how much time and energy he put into becoming the player he was.  He returned to play professional basketball in Spain this year but he was on my staff the last two years.  I definitely see him being a coach one day.
Other Hall of Famers that I keep contact with?  Hmmmm…I guess I’ll start with my wife, Hannah (Phillips).  She definitely keeps me and our family balanced.  Basketball season is long and tough for a family.  She manages to run her own business, keep us organized and allows me to put extra time into the kids I coach.  I couldn’t do this without her. 

Hall of Famer Mike Bechtold has become one of my best friends over the years.  He’s still very supportive of the program and I never hesitate to ask him advice on X’s and O’s from his Princeton days.  Todd Wike, also a very good friend, lives out of state but has been a huge supporter of our program.  He has helped many less fortunate players and families behind the scenes.  Other Hall of Famers that are often mentioned in practice or film study are Chris Kelliher (best defensive player I’ve ever seen), Jason Coletti (great offensive player and HC at Annville-Cleona), and Pat Daly (part of 3 straight LL Championships with Bechtold, Wike and Coach Barnhart).

4) What are your most memorable moments as the Cedars head coach?
Well, since that LL crown has alluded me on two occasions, I can’t use that.  There were so many good wins but I’ve always loved the underdog role.  Therefore, I would say the district playoff upsets of Wilson my first year (’10-11) and Harrisburg in (’16-17), simply because the joy the players had during and after the game.  They competed and focused at a higher level and they were rewarded for it. 
It’s also memorable and I’m very proud of players playing at the next level…in any sport.  As an assistant, Anthony Trautman at LVC, Jared Odrick playing football at Penn State (and the NFL), and Adam Brossman playing football at LVC.  Blayde Reich just finished a great career at York College.  Mark Pyles just finished a great career playing football at Bucknell.  Jeremy De La Cruz just finished a good career playing football at LVC.  Justin Baker currently playing basketball at LVC and Khalique Washington playing football at a junior college in Kansas.  I’m sure I’m missing a few and I apologize in advance.

Lastly, the night of my 100th win.  I came into coaching with no real personal goals, only team goals, and I still feel that way.  However, that night, Carlos was on my staff and a few other coaches came back to celebrate the milestone.  Coach Barnhart also came to that game which was very special to me.  The happiness my players showed me that night was overwhelming and something I’ll never forget. 

5) The Cedars are moving sections again. What are your thoughts on the newest alignment of the LL?
I don’t really have many thoughts one way or another.  This is the fourth time in 9 years that we’ll have new sections so it’s become pretty common.  It’s always interesting to see how it plays out in the end.  We’ll show up like we always do and compete as hard as we can.  All we want in the end is to have one more point than whoever is wearing the other color jersey.

Bonus: Is there any advice you would have for someone wanting to get into coaching hs hoops?
Enjoy the journey.  It’s something Coach Blackburn used to always try to instill in the kids.  It’s something that I try to instill in my teams and we talk about often.  The problem is, I don’t know that I actually do it myself.  We win a game and I instantly start thinking about our next opponent before I even leave the gym.  Second piece of advice would be to be true to yourself but also be willing to take advice from others.  I feel that I’ve always stuck to my vision and beliefs even when things weren’t going well or there were problems within the program.  I’ve also been very blessed to have coached with and under many good coaches.  Take advice and think about it.  It’s okay to realize that you’re doing something wrong and you need to change, as long as you have the proper end goal in sight.  And as I said, enjoy the journey.

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