FORT PAYNE — Editor’s note: This is the 11th installment in a question-and-answer series with DeKalb County coaches, taking a look at their playing journeys and their coaching experiences. In Part 11, The Times-Journal interviewed Fort Payne boys basketball coach Michael Banks.
Q: What was your assistant coaching experience like before you became a head coach, and for how long did you work as an assistant?
A: One thing that I truly appreciate is a good assistant coach, mainly because I was one for so long. I have coached for 18 years and have coached all levels, including junior high, freshmen and junior varsity. All at Fort Payne. At Fort Payne, the junior varsity coach is the lead assistant, so I served in that role for four years. My first year was with Danny Anderson, now the head coach at DAR, and the last three were with Glen Hicks, who retired after his time at Fort Payne. I also was on longtime Fort Payne head coach Anthony Reid’s staff for the rest of my time at Fort Payne. All my experiences as an assistant were vital in preparing me to be a head coach. Being with the head coaches at practice and alongside them in games, you learn a great deal about the game of basketball. But some of the most important things I learned were about how to manage a program, which each of the former coaches were instrumental in teaching me those things.
Q: What led you to coaching?
A: Coaching really wasn’t on my mind in college, but once I was hired as a teacher, coach Reid asked me to coach basketball and I really fell in love with it. Sports have always been a big part of my life, so it was natural for me to go in that direction.
Q: What was your playing career like?
A My playing career could be described as average at best. I enjoyed every minute of it, but didn’t have a lot of success. My senior season we did finish around .500. In high school I played for two coaches, Phillip Collie, and coach Reid, who came in my last two years. Both of those coaches have had a tremendous amount of success over their careers.
Q: How early did basketball enter your life?
A: My dad loved basketball, so he exposed it to me and my sister early on. My earliest memories were playing against my sister; she was tough to beat. I couldn’t beat her until I finally grew taller than her. My sister, Heather Harrison, was a great player at Fort Payne as well. She currently coaches the girls’ program at Cornerstone Christian in Rainsville.
Q: Who were the coaches who most influenced the way you instruct your players?
A: All my former coaches have played a part in shaping how I instruct my guys. All the way back to my dad, who was my coach in youth leagues growing up, to coach Jerry Rice, coach Collie, coach Reid, coach Anderson and coach Hicks. I find different drills or plays that I do that remind me of them and how they coached.
Q: What do you teach at Fort Payne?
A: Currently I teach P.E., but I have taught health, history, science and several different elementary grades.
Q: If you aren’t preparing your players or preparing a game plan, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I love spending time with my family, watching the Atlanta Braves — I’m ready for their season to get going — and I love playing golf.