By John Bombatch
BELLBROOK — Through his years as an assistant coach for area high school basketball teams, Donnie Tate always knew that there were some select area schools where he’d like to coach some day. Now he’s the boys varsity basketball coach at Bellbrook High, one of the schools on Tate’s short list, and he can’t wait for the season to start.
“I was an assistant coach at Beavercreek for 5-6 years. Prior to that I had coached seventh and eighth grade at Ankeney Middle School, and I was asked by Charlie Back to come up and help the varsity team. I went over to Carroll for three years — a year as a varsity assistant — under Dennis Wahle. Then I took two years off where I had befriended (former men’s head basketball coach) Billy Donlon at Wright State. I took two years off of coaching and I went to as many of his practices as I could, and kinda studied under him and went to the games. It was a valuable experience for me, those two years.
“After those two years, Tim Cogan called me up and asked me if I’d be an assistant coach for him at Carroll. And I’ve been Tim’s assistant for the last two years at Carroll. We had a successful year last year, but Tim knew that when he took me on his staff that I had always had ambitions of being a head coach somewhere. So, he put me in a position to fill that desire that I had. And so now I’m here.”
Tate was overseeing a Bellbrook boys open gym on Tuesday. Per Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, coaches aren’t allowed to work directly with their players until after Sept. 7, 2016. So the players were doing pick-up games on their own.
“At Carroll, we played Franklin, Valley View and Oakwood. So I’m familiar with half of their league,” Tate said. “I’ve been watching a lot of film already, and I’m trying to get acclimated with the returning guys, and doing what I can to assess their strengths and weaknesses. They can be playing 5-on-5 games, like today. I just can’t be setting up defenses or running plays for the offense.”
Bellbrook plays in the Southwestern Buckeye League’s Southwestern Division with the three schools listed above along with Monroe, Eaton and Brookville. Last season, Bellbrook finished 7-17 overall. The team finished fifth in the seven-team division with a 4-8 mark.
While the players were playing, Tate was busy inflating basketballs and taking phone calls in preparation for a Bellbrook Boys Basketball Camp that he plans on hosting June 27-July 1 at both Bellbrook Middle School and Bellbrook High. The cost is $80 for one child, $140 for two; $190 for three and checks should be made out to Bellbrook High School.
Kids in grades 2-3 will have camp from 1-3:30- p.m. in the Middle School auxiliary gym. Those in grades 4-5 will will play at the same time, but in the middle school’s main gym. Players in grades 6-8 will practice from 1:30-4 p.m. at the high school gym. All campers will receive a T-shirt and plenty of fundamental basketball instruction from Tate and his players.
Parents are urged to fill out a medical liability release form, which can be obtained from Tate by email at: DONNIE.TATE@[email protected] .
“It was last minute. We just got the information out yesterday. I felt there was a lot of interest among the area youth and their parents for their to be a youth camp, and of course they want to meet their new coach, so this was a perfect opportunity to do that,” Tate said. “I’m looking forward to it. And I’m really looking to get things going. Perry Caldwell claimed seven straight SWBL titles before Franklin took things over when (current Duke University star and former Ohio Mr. Basketball) Luke Kennard was there. I’ve got some big shoes to fill, but I’m looking to get Bellbrook back on top of the league again.”