One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for January 14, 2015.
In 1980 I joined the basketball staff at Western Carolina University to work under Head Coach Steve Cottrell. Steve had come to WCU from Washington State/SMU and was leading WCU thru the transition of going from NAIA to Division I. When I arrived in 1980 the program was poised to have success and the five years I was on the staff we had five consecutive winning seasons competing in the Southern Conference.
Steve had worked under two great coaches in Sonny Allen and George Raveling. The one thing Steve learned was promotion and boy did we promote especially our summer camp. While at Washington State Steve learned from one of the best summer canp promoters of all time in George Raveling. Washington State in the late 1970’s had the largest summer camp in the country and Steve Cottrell and his WCU assistant coaches Jack Fertig and Rick Miller before I arrived had created a great summer camp in Cullowhee.
Steve now age 70 left WCU in 1987 and moved to Hayesville NC where he was a HS Coach. He and his wife Cathy had three fabulous children Todd, Michael, and Laura. All three are coaches. Michael’s son Zach is budding HS star at Hayesville HS being coached by his dad. To read about the Cottrell family go to the link below.
In the summer of 1981 and 1982 Steve decided to bring in his friend Mark Edwards the head coach at NCAA Division III Washington University (MO) to serve as a camp consultant. Mark and Steve worked together at Washington State and Mark was considered one of smartest camp organizers in the country. Steve wanted him to take detailed notes and make suggestions on how the WCU camp could improve.
Mark was also one of the greatest if not greatest practical joker I have ever met. Mark had this unique abiltiy to find out what button to push to get anybody’s goat and that included Steve and unfortunately me.
For the last 39 years Mark Edwards has been the Head Coach at Washington University having won over 600 games. He won the NCAA Division IIII NCAA Championship in 2008-2009 and has been voted three times as NCAA Division III Coach of the Year. He is a practical joker but an exceptional basketball coach.
The Friend-Steve Cottrell
The Friend of the Friend-Mark Edwards
Summer Basketball Camp Stories with Steve Cottrell and Mark Edwards
Mark came to WCU Basketball Camps a couple of summers at the request of Steve. He had a paid position as consultant. His job was to present a detailed written report at the conclusion of camp to Steve on every operational aspect of the week.
The camp was a long grind with check in on Sunday and check-out on Friday night. We had a great awards ceremony where every kid got a camp report card, goody bag loaded with NBA memoribilla, and we had lot’s of trophies. It took a lot to get it ready and out of sight of the campers.
When Dan Kenney arrived at WCU Steve gave him the organizational responsibiites for the camp awards program. Dan was organized and used the basketball locker room and equipment room in Reid Gym to get everything prepped. We had long tables on the gym floor and had all the campers and their parents sitting in the gym.
Dan’s job was to get each table loaded with the report cards, goody bags and trophies. He had a great system. Ten minutes before the program he asked each camp counselor to come into the locker room and bring their team’s report card and goody bag on their team’s table. All Dan needed to do was get each team’s trophies on the table and Steve would begin the awards. Dan getting the trophies was the key to starting the awards.
Mark had reviewed Dan’s system and spotted an opportunity for a great practical joke. The equipment room during the summer didn’t have a padlock on the room. It did have a hasp and Cullowhee did have a hardware store that sold padlocks.
When every camp counselor left the lockerroom Dan went into the long equipment room to retrieve the trophies. Mark closed the door behind Dan, cut off the lights, and snapped the lock on the hasp shut. He then went out to the court to observe Steve’s reaction. Steve was anxious and asked Mark if he had seen Dan. Mark said I have no idea. Steve walked back to the locker room but saw the lights were out and turned around furious that he had 1000 campers and parents waiting on him to start the program. Mark let Steve sweat for 10 minutes and grabbed the team manager and told Steve we will go over to the dorm to see if Dan is napping.
When Mark got outside the gym he gave the student manager the key to the equipment room and told him to double check the locker room he would check the dorm. The manager got in the lockerroom and heard Dan frantically knocking on door to get out. Meanwhile Mark went back into the gym and told Steve “Don’t worry I have Dan’s lack of focus documented”.
Steve then looked up and saw Dan hurriedly putting up trophies thinking he had been taking a nap. Dan was furious-Steve was furious and Mark was laughting because his prank had pushed both of their buttons.
The next summer Mark at camp had to change his room mid-week due to a foul odor that got stronger each night in his room. It is amazing what a small can of sardines can do hidden inside a mattress.