Media meets new Upper Lakes Conference teams

Published 10:52 pm Thursday, October 28, 2021

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CHURCH HILL – With under three weeks left before prep basketball kicks off in earnest in Northeast Tennessee, the five teams that make up the new Upper Lakes Conference gathered for a conference rouser before the conference kicks off with its jamboree on Nov. 11th.

Media took photos and spoke with coaches from Unicoi County, Elizabethton, Tennessee High, Sullivan East, and Volunteer at Volunteer High School Thursday and then everyone gathered for a meal served by parents of the Volunteer High School players.

Following the meal, University of Alabama in Huntsville head coach John Shulman took time to share with the athletes and coaches in attendance.

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Shulman has been at the Alabama school for three years after serving as the head coach at Tennessee Chattanooga from 2004 to 2013 where he coached 18 players who would eventually play professionally.

Shulman told those in attendance that “talent is the most overrated thing in the game”.

“I don’t believe in that anymore,” Shulman said. “I think that you have to be somewhat talented, but hard work and effort wins. I don’t think talent wins. We have a bunch of dudes at UAH and all they do is work. They get up at 4:30 a.m. in the morning and are in the gym by 5 a.m. shooting hoops. Who is willing to do that?

“I wrote down, “your decisions reveal your priorities” so what are you going to do when everyone goes out on Friday night – what are you going to do?”

He told the group that if they wanted to play college basketball, then surely they could help their high school team win basketball games or at least find a way to help their team win a basketball game.

Shulman asked the players what a good teammate looks like hearing words such as high energy, leadership, and encourager.

“Let me ask you this – are you that guy or girl?” quizzed Shulman. “You mean I have to encourage other people besides myself? I ask myself all the time if I would want to play for me because sometimes I go wacko. If you don’t like yourself, you can change.”

Host head coach Mike Poe of Volunteer said in closing, “We wanted this to be your moment and your time before we started this season and I wanted to make this first one extra special and hopefully we will be able to continue this on year after year as something that you will look forward to every year.

“At the end of the day, we are all in it together for the betterment of basketball. I just don’t want to see basketball go away and this is part of what we are trying to do as coaches in this conference is to make it extra special.”