Style War

Varsity boys’ basketball Head Coach Greg Hilliard is “cooler than the other side of the pillow,” according to star forward Renaldo Woolridge ’08. Even in the midst of a blowout loss to in-league rival Notre Dame, Coach Greg Hilliard maintained his peaceful and stoic expression. He contemplated his next set of moves, calmly gathered his team, looked each in the eye and gave them their set of plays to run.

Coach Melissa Hearlihy, on the other hand, is the yin to Hilliard’s yang. On and off the basketball court, Hearlihy is passionate and fiery. Her booming voice sends her commands across the court, resonating throughout the gymnasium and into the ears of her players who willingly follow her every word. She claps, screams and rejoices with every change of possession, holding back no emotion, allowing it to spill out onto the court.

Coach Hilliard and Hearlihy have experienced parallel successes this season, but in terms of coaching style, they are completely different. Often, players encounter coaches who are very hands off and calm, or coaches who yell and scream. Hilliard and Hearlihy embody both extremes.

“Hilliard is definitely the more laid-back coach, while I’m definitely more passionate and intense on the court,” Hearlihy said.

“[Hearlihy] is excited all the time and when she is coaching us, it’s evident that she loves the game,” Lizzy Brooks ’08 said.

“Her yelling and screaming gets us energized and makes us want to work even harder.”

“My players understand that I’m passionate about the game and that when I’m yelling at them that I’m not angry at them, but I just want them to succeed,” Hearlihy said.

Renaldo believes that Hilliard’s quiet and calm demeanor “keeps the team honest and level-headed when it’s needed the most.”

“[Hilliard] is really serious and focused, and he doesn’t take crap from anyone,” he said.

Hilliard says that he “never yells [his] commands,” but he doesn’t necessarily “calmly dictate them.”

“I try to hide the inner turmoil and say something intelligent that chances are no one in the huddle will remember when we break.” he said.

Hearlihy believes one of the many coaches who influenced her coaching style was her head coach in college.

“We always had trust in him and he taught us to build trust off and on the floor,” she said. “I learned immensely from him.”

On the other hand, Hilliard cites influences from major college basketball coaches.

“I began by trying to incorporate as much Coach [John] Wooden as I could and then used lots of Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski’s ideas.”

For any prospective coaches, Hilliard has this word of advice: “Never take yourself too seriously, and have fun coaching a wonderful kid’s game.”

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