Hard times don’t last, tough people do.
That’s a lesson Gerrett Spears knows all too well. It’s one he epitomizes and something he teaches as the first-year head coach of the Kingfisher Ladyjackets basketball team.
“People that know my background know that we grew up with not very much money,” he said on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.
Times were tough for Spears growing up. He said his family moved a handful of times while growing up in Garber. But his parents, Bill and Janice Spears, persevered and did whatever it took to make ends meet.
“My dad worked three jobs, my mom worked two jobs,” Spears said. “A lot of my work ethic came from my parents seeing just how hard they had to work just to feed us every night at the dinner table.”
He didn’t realize it back then, but when he looked back, Spears said he never went without basketball shoes or baseball cleats. Despite working multiple jobs and putting in long hours, his parents still made it to every one of his games, home or away. It brought them joy to see him play.
“Those were things my parents enjoyed doing because they saw I enjoyed it,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why I grew up to love sports … because that’s when they were happiest.”
Spears’ playing days ended in college, but he was able to transition his love of basketball into a coaching career. A career that’s seen him take several roles, most notably as a program builder. In every stop, his philosophy calls for laying the foundation for the future by building the middle school and youth programs.
“There are certain things that are always going to stay the same,” he said. “Which is our effort and the time we spend in the gym, that we’re allowed to.”
Relationship building will remain consistent, too.
“I’m a big believer in that culture wins,” Spears said. “And when you have positive relationships with your kids and the parents, a lot of good things can happen.”
But Spears’ brought a new concept to the Kingfisher program — being a functional family.
“As you learn, there are a lot of families that aren’t quite functional,” he said. “We want to be functional. We know bad things are going to happen … but if we’ve prepared ourselves for the work and the summer, if we prepare ourselves with coming together as a team, then those moments that are bad may come a little easier.”
Tough times don’t last, but they do come quite regularly. Spears and his wife, Rachael, struggled to have a child. Eventually, they had their firstborn son, Benaiah, who was born with Down Syndrome, something Spears said he and his wife weren’t prepared for.
“But I think through life lessons,” Spears said. “We were prepared for that situation because of what we’ve been through.”
Benaiah is more than a year old and already knows how to score a basket with a seated layup through his plastic hoop.
As a coach, Spears feels the responsibility of leading by example.
“Any guy would say this who is married with a kid: You’re the leader of your household,” he said. “That’s what makes coaching so fun for me. That’s what made leaving Enid really hard."
Spears coached the Enid Pacers for two seasons before being hired at Kingfisher.
I told the girls this, we’re family. I don’t look at those girls just as players. When I was in Enid and even to this day, I would do anything for them to help them out in a situation that was morally, ethically and legally right.”
As the head coach and leader of the program, Spears’ goals don’t begin and end with winning games. He also concerns himself with helping teach the young women of his program how to endure the tough situations that come their way, using basketball as his main teaching tool.
Tough times don’t last, tough people do. As Spears or any other coach will tell you, leading a program and raising a family is far from easy. Some days are harder than others.
But Spears embraces those tough days because he knows what’s the better days are just beyond.
“I’ve been through some hard times but I don’t want it to sound like it was the worst in the world,” Spears said. “There are people that, every single day, go through things harder than I have to go through. We’re blessed to live where we live. Enid is a good place. Kingfisher is a good place. We’re blessed with good jobs and good family.”