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Collected Wisdom: Tommy Griffin, longtime high school coach and father of Blake and Taylor Griffin

Interviewed by Brandon Chatmon Published: August 30, 2009
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Tommy Griffin coached Oklahoma Christian School to four consecutive state championships in boys basketball. He also coached in the Oklahoma City Public School system for 30 years, including state championships at Classen in 1975 and John Marshall in 1999 and 2000. Now a girls basketball coach and assistant football coach at Midwest City, he’s probably best known as the father of former OU stars Blake and Taylor Griffin.

When you first start off, you do some things where you’re trying to be like some other coach. You haven’t established yourself yet. Once you get into it, you start to see that, "I don’t need to be like anyone else, I just need to be myself. I’m just going to be me and do what I think is best for my kids.” And I’ve been fairly successful at doing that.

John Wooden. If there was someone (I) had the opportunity to be like, that would be my first choice.

I tell all my assistant coaches, if I had to do it again, I would major in psychology. Kids now have a whole different perspective. When I played it was an honor to be on a team. N,ow kids come in thinking they are ready for the pros, they just have this simple step of high school or college in front of them.

I was cut off the first athletic team I tried to make. I felt badly because I had never tried out for a team before. My P.E. teacher (Roger Pierce), who was the swimming coach, asked me the next day: "Did you really want to play basketball or do you want to be part of a team?” I said I want to be part of a team. That’s the first person who worked to make me successful.

He was a genuinely, honest straight-forward coach. That’s what I needed at that time because my father died when I was 10, and he was a good person for me to have for that journey in my life.

My college coach, Cecil Perkins, told me in college you want to have fun, you can’t be one-dimensional, just study, study, study. If you balance right then, you’ll be balanced for the rest of your life.

The best thing about coaching is the opportunity to help kids grow. I tell my players all the time, "If I could just coach you and not have to deal with the games, I’d be perfectly happy.” The fun part for me is the teaching of the game, not actually the playing of the games.

The worst thing is the lack of integrity in two areas. Sometimes officials have the idea they are going to even the game up.