Casa Grande Union is a revamped program that Coach Kevin Hubbard has laid a good foundation for, since he took over as the head coach last season. The Lady Cougars had a successful summer, as they looked very competitive in the Arizona Preps Beat the Heat Team Showcase. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Coach Hubbard to discuss some of the things that make his program successful. Here is our conversation:
Q: How long have you been coaching?
A: This is the start of my 6th year of coaching. Two years as a Boys JV Coach and Four years as a Varsity Girls Head Coach.
Q: What schools/programs?
A: I started coaching at Kingman High School with two years as the JV Boys Coach and two years as the Varsity Girls Coach. This is the start of my 2nd year at Casa Grande Union High School.
Q: Why do you coach?
A: There really isn’t anything better than encouraging and empowering young athletes to compete at a high level. Sports teaches kids so many lessons that they need for life. At the same time nothing is stronger than the bonds built in a good program. I love competing and watching players overcome challenges throughout the season. The ultimate payoff is getting a player to college doing the sport that they love. College is life changing for all players who can get there. I believe all players are worth a college education!
Q: What was your record last season?
A: We were 6-9 which showed a lot of improvement from the start to finish.
Q: Who are your players to watch:
Aliyah Robbins 2022 Post
She is an amazing student and player. She is our driving force for the team. She holds others accountable and helps everyone get better. A definite college prospect.
Juliette Graves 2022
Julie is our emotional leader of the team. She brings heart to the culture of the program. I believe she might be our most improved player over the summer.
BIG 3 of the Future Sophomores - Baleigh Nash, Kaydence Apkaw, and Siena White - These 3 players will drive the future of the program. They each have great basketball skills and are able to create shots for each other.. They lead the younger players and are a coaches dream to have as soph in the program.
Q: How did the kids respond to this past summer’s off-season?
A: We had a solid summer. The girls played (21) games in the month of June. We were able to host two elementary school age kid skills camps to help develop our younger group. The time playing together developed a team bond that will carry us in tough moments throughout the season. The highlight of the season was going 5-0 at the Arizona Preps Beat the Heat event in Prescott. That was the most complete team effort. Our younger players have grown in their confidence and older players have led through example. One of the best developmental summers I have seen as a head coach.
Q: What are three goals for this upcoming season?
A: The biggest goal for us is to make the play-in game for the state tournament. It's been (6) years since this school has seen the playoffs and this is the group to get us there. Other goals include building a program culture that players want to be a part of, increasing the amount of girls playing basketball at our school. We also are over excited to host the first Girls Central Arizona Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament! We will play host to (11) other schools over 2 days in December. Hope to make it a yearly event for girls basketball in Central Arizona.
Q: What were the keys to keeping your program competitive year in year out?
A: I live by there principles and try teach my program:
Development- Players love playing for teams that make them better. In life when you become complacent or feel like you aren’t moving forward, you seek for ways to change. That is the same in basketball. Players need to feel like they are going forward as individuals and as a team. Skills and drills (the boring stuff) give players a chance to develop the skill needed for the big moments in games. This is a major pillar of our program.
Trust- Trust in coaches, teammates and fans. Trust that your coaches and teammates have your best interest at heart. Knowing that the people around you have your back. Trust leads to belief. Belief leads to overcoming the odds and teams against you. Trust is the pillar that supports development, without it both pillars fail into pointless repetition.
Family- The culture of the program has to feel like a family. When family bonds are created, teams play for each other. Teams will hold each other accountable and work for the goals as a single-minded unit. This comes from never turning your back on your team for any reason. This comes from working hard together to get to that goal. Family will always come first in our program. On and off the court.
Coach Hubbard is doing a phenomenal job in laying a great foundation at Casa Grande Union. He is doing a good job in working to develop their younger group. I’ll be excited to see what the future holds for the Lady Cougars, as they have the athletes and potential to be a powerhouse program in the future. The Arizona Preps staff looks forward to covering the Girls Central Arizona Holiday Classic this winter.