Sunday Q&A: New QHS boys basketball coach Andy Douglas discusses the path to his dream job

Head Coach Andy Douglas at press conference

Head Coach Andy Douglas at press conference

May 11, 2014 12:04 a.m.

He’s the youngest coach to take over the helm of the Quincy High School boys basketball program in almost 70 years, but Andy Douglas strongly believes he is the right coach at the right time. A 13-member search committee and the Quincy School Board agreed.

The challenge facing Douglas is to recreate the energy and passion so many Blue Devil fans have come to expect over the years.

The former QHS sharpshooter, record holder and diehard fan sat down with Sports Editor Matt Schuckman to discuss the job, the pressure and the passion needed to be in charge of one of the nation’s winningest basketball programs.

Q: Is this truly a dream job for you?

A: It’s something I’ve been planning for my entire life. Whether it was growing up watching games or starting at the younger levels and working my way up, it was always something I wanted and that’s to be a part of the Blue Devil program.

When I found my niche as a coach, it was something I really wanted to pursue. To reach this point now, it’s been a dream come true.

Q: When you left to go to Liberty, was it in the back of your mind that you wanted to get back here someday?

A: I had an in-depth conversation with some important people in my life, and it was pushed upon me that I needed to get that head coaching experience. It was something I had always wanted. I had it at the younger levels. It was always in the back of mind.

I told my guys at Liberty, this was a job I would have waited for another 10 years. It was not something I was going to rush into. Now that it’s here, it’s something I want to take advantage of.

Q: What has prepared you for this moment and this job?

A: When I look back, I think you look at your path and how you get to certain places and how you achieve your dreams. Sometimes, it’s a straight path. Sometimes, it takes a lot of turns. Mine has taken some turns. Not big ones, but it has taken some turns.

Everything I’ve done in my life has prepared me for this. From graduating from Quincy University, staying here in Quincy, teaching here in Quincy, finding my wife here in Quincy. Those are all things that have kind of paved the way for me to stay in this area.

When you look at this community, it’s a community that has been tremendously supportive of me. I’ve really seen that in the last couple of days. It’s something that I have a lot of pride in. I have a lot of pride in the Quincy basketball tradition, but also Quincy as a whole.

Q: What did you learn most while coaching at Liberty?

A: I learned there are a lot of ups and downs. I truly mean there can be a lot of ups and downs. Kids are involved in more things now more than ever these days. So it’s important to motivate players more than ever.

So I’ve learned different ways to motivate guys to get them there to work as hard as they can. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned about my patience at times and my core values as an individual.

And I’ve learned a lot about teaching. not just the coaching part, but about teaching kids how to be better people and how to be better basketball players.

It’s been a long process. But it’s been a process where I can look back and say, ‘Hey, I’ve learned a lot.’ I’m going to continue to learn as long as I’m in this profession.

Q: What does it mean to be a Blue Devil?

A: It’s everything to me. It’s been my entire life. Growing up here and playing and then coaching in it, it’s been my entire life. My philosophy is a little different than others, but my main goal is to help kids improve on and off the basketball court.

We will make a big commitment to the off-the-basketball-court stuff. When I think back, the relationships we had when we played and when we coached are what got us to this point in our lives. So it means everything to me to be a part and especially in this way.

Q: What’s it mean to you to be a Douglas?

A: There is a lot of pride in that. It doesn’t matter where you go. When you introduce yourself and tell them your last name, a lot of people know who you are and they know who you are because of Quincy basketball.

I’d like to say I’m the best shooter out of all the Douglases and none of them can coach like I can. So I’ve got them beat on a couple of things.

My grandmother, my grandfather, my dad as the oldest one having so much pride in his last name has been something that is important to me. Watching how my dad holds family so important impacted me. He instilled that in me, and that’s something that I put toward the basketball program.

Q: Your program has to be your family or you have to create a family atmosphere within your program, right?

A: Yes, you do. You’re around the kids for so long you want to build relationships with the kids and develop those relationships. A lot of the qualities a team has is something that a family has. So I think it’s vital and very important. We will have quotes up in the locker room on family and the importance of it.

Also, one of our goals as individuals and as a team will mirror one of my favorite quotes and that is, “You either get better or worse. You never stay the same.” It’s something I want to instill in our kids. I want you to improve on the court. I want you to improve your individual skills. I want us to improve as a team.

But I also want them to improve off the court as well. I want you to improve in school. I want you to improve your family relationships because all of those things are going to make you a better person down the line.

Q: What was the most important piece of advice you were given during this process?

A: I’ve had a lot of advice thrown my way. A former Blue Devil sent me a text with a great piece of advice. It was “do what you do, be committed and don’t sacrifice your integrity.” Those are all important things from the advice I’ve gotten so far.

The “do what you do” part is important. A lot of people look and say, “He’s a young coach. How is he going to handle the whole experience?” And that’s true. I’m 32 years old.

But the one thing about me, and something I picked up from every great coach I’ve been around, is you always have to be a constant learner. They are life-long learners. That’s what I am.

Q: How daunting is it to hear people talk about how high expectations are?

A: It’s important for the program to have high expectations. It means you’ve had a lot of success in the past. And it’s important to me. When people ask me about how high expectations are and how demanding they are, I tell them that I have higher expectations.

I’ve been in the program. I know what the program is about. I know the tradition of the program.

My expectations of where the program should be are extremely high. When other people state their expectations, they can know and trust mine are right up there with them.

Q: How do you put your signature on this program?

A: My coaching style might be a little different than what people have seen in the past. I’m really big on relationship building and getting the most out of kids that way. My staple will come by how I carry myself and how my players carry themselves.

We want to be a program built on what it’s been built on in the past, and that’s 100-percent class. It’s important to me. When I took over the Liberty job, I said the exact same thing.

When it’s all said and done, I want my program when I leave here to be one where people can look back and say that was classy coaches, classy players, classy program. I’m hearing a lot of feedback from that, so that makes me proud to say I did coach there and I did do things the right way.

Q: You’re in the fun and unique position of having a young son who can come to the gym with you. How important was this job from the standpoint that you wanted him to see Blue Devil basketball and may someday be a part of it?

A: It’s vital. It’s what I grew up on. My dad was a coach at the high school level, and I was always at the gym with him. I always wanted to be at the gym. When he brought me to my first Blue Devil game when I was in fourth grade, it was a great experience.

It wasn’t just the experience of the electric crowd and the great atmosphere, but to be able to spend that time with him makes that a night I still remember to this day. I’ll never forget it.

So it’s important for me to bring my son or my future son or daughter up in the program. I know how important it was to my growth as an individual and how important it could be to theirs as they grow.

Q: You’ve called this your dream job. So have you actually dreamed about what it would be like to have the job?

A: When I think about it now, it’s overwhelming. Not just to say I’m the coach of Quincy High School, but I can say this is the path I’ve taken and this is where it landed me and this is what i’ve always wanted to do.

I couldn’t be more blessed with the opportunity.

I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to come home and say that I’m the coach of Quincy High School Blue Devil basketball.