Begin With The End In Mind

An interview with prolific coach Ron Bellamy

Begin+With+The+End+In+Mind

     “Begin with the end in mind” This is the motto written in bold letters on the locker room white board. Coach Ron Bellamy preaches this saying to his team before each game. It has definitely paid off. This season, the Lakers achieved perfection with an outstanding 9-0 record. This interview makes it clear to anyone how they did. Mr. Bellamy has lead this team to each victory with his experience and vast knowledge of the sport, and more importantly, his devotion to his team.

 

S: Who has been the biggest influence on your life and why?

RB: “My mother. She was obviously there since day one.. the sacrifices she’s made for me.. and my mom has always had my best interest in mind with every decision that she has made.”

S: Why did you choose to play for Michigan?

RB: “I was looking for a combination of an academic school, and I was looking for a school that was winning. I know I had the best of both worlds at Michigan, and it’s was the best decision of my life…outside of marrying my wife.”  

S: How did your love of football come about?

RB: “I think I’ve always had a love for football. Both of my parents were athletes in high school. I grew up idolizing Jerry Rice when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. He was everything to me, and I wanted to emulate everything that he did. From there, my passion for football took over.”

S: What made you want to become a football coach?

RB: “I had an unbelievable high school coach. One of the things he did was… it wasn’t just about football. Some of the life skills I developed outside of my parents and family were mainly because of him. I think that it was a calling. Once I was done playing football, my professional career ended. I sat down with my college coach Lloyd Carr, and one of the things he told me, he said, “you should look into getting into education and coaching” and I said, “teacher and coach? that wasn’t part of my career plans.” He recommended it to me, and it’s been a blessing. It’s been a great ride thus far.”

S: What prompted you to accept the job at WBHS?

RB: “I was a little familiar with the area. My wife is from Bloomfield Hills. I wanted to go somewhere where it’s diverse. You won’t find a more diverse place than West Bloomfield. For me, I wanted to go somewhere you can start something and put your stamp on it. This was a great opportunity for me. I think the timing worked out well, and I’m happy. I’m extremely happy to be here.”

S: How do balance being a teacher, a football coach, and a family man?

RB: “It’s by far one of the tougher things. You have to wear three different hats. You know, even four different hats. I wake up in the morning, I’m a teacher. School day ends, I’m a coach. Then I have to take the teacher hat and coach hat off to be a dad and a husband. Once the kids go down, then it’s time to you know, family time to catch up with the wife, talk about the kids, how we can become better parents. Just things like that. How to better yourself. It’s tough, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

 

S: What did you think of the team when you first started? What changed?

RB: “I got here when I was an assistant coach before I became head coach. We finished 5-4 we just missed the playoffs, so we weren’t a bad team. But, I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the things we were doing. I thought that the guys were out there..I felt like they were athlete students first as opposed to student athletes. That’s one of the things I wanted to change. Immediately we didn’t have that success right away that some people would have thought. But even for myself I said, you know what? I have a four year vision plan. I set that aside and I remember our old athletic director, I said, “this is gonna take about four years to kinda get this thing the way we want it.” and that’s just trying to get the boys…motivate them in the classroom, not even in the classroom, just the character. I’m a big character guy. Just doing things the right way so you don’t have to re-do it.”

S: How do you motivate your team?

RB: “They’re driven by results. They want to know, “Coach, how can I win the state championship? How can I get a football scholarship?” and this is it; hard work, sacrifices. What sacrifices are you willing to make? are you willing to put the time in? Everyone works hard. What are you willing to do differently than someone else to get the results? We’re seeing them. We had an unbelievable year, 9-0. We actually have six kids that have scholarship offers to play football at the next level. So it’s been great times for us.”

S: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team this year? How are you trying to overcome those weaknesses?

RB: “I think the strengths are, well one, I think we’re talented, but I think the brotherhood that the boys have developed. I think a lot of times people say, “coaching, coaching, coaching” coaches are a big part of it, but I think the most important part is the kids. These guys, they love each other. This is probably one of the closer groups that I’ve had. Even me as a player. I think a weakness is they’re afraid of the unknown. I guess the weakness is a strength. They’re afraid of losing. They’re afraid of not holding up this legacy that they think they’re supposed to have. Sometimes you can put so much pressure on yourself that you under-exceed, but it’s been great for them.

S: What has been the biggest improvement that you have seen since the beginning of this season?

RB: “I think the boys are mentally tougher. We’ve been through some adversity where you know, we lost our kicker for the season. Starting right tackle Tony Kay out for the season. Starting linebacker Chris Kalaj out for the season. The boys have responded to adversity tremendously. They didn’t complain about it. We got a motto, “next man up” and we love those guys, we do it for them. We make sure we keep winning, and keep having fun.

 

S: What was the toughest moment of the season for you?

RB: “I think the injuries. More so the injuries to the seniors. Just to watch the guys that worked so hard..they’ve done things the right way and to see that their season was cut short…that was the toughest. You just have to encourage those guys that they’re still part of the team. As a coach, you’re always comforting your guys. You always want them to feel happy about things. That’s been the toughest part for me, the injuries.

S: What has been your favorite moment of the season and why?

RB: “I think, once that clock struck zero and we beat Harrison..I think that at that moment it was just like…perfection for us in the sense of a regular season. Just to watch how happy our school was, our kids were…and like I said…I never wanted it to be about me, but I was just ecstatic because everybody was so happy for that moment. It was just a perfect day. From 5:00 in the morning at the pep rally, throughout the school day everyone was tired, walking like zombies. Then everyone caught their second wind, and that was an amazing environment Friday night. What a way to end a season with an awesome game. So you know, when that clock struck zero..gosh..It’s exciting.

S: In your opinion, how far do you think this team could go?

RB: “We could go as far as we will ourselves to go. The beauty about this is they don’t know how to lose. Meaning, this team has no idea what it feels like this year. We could go as far as we allow ourselves to go. I can’t make any predictions. I know we have a talented team, and I know these guys will do everything in their power to continue to win.”

S: What do you think has made this team so successful?

RB: “One, I think they’re talented. We got a core group of guys that are super talented. I think two, we do have pretty good coaching. And three, when you put the two together… talent with the coaching, and everyone has this vision… If you go in the locker room, you see their goals on the board. They set goals for themselves, team goals. They said one, beat Clarkston. They beat Clarkston. Two, they said win OAA red. They won OAA red. The next is make the playoffs. They made the playoffs. So they keep checking their goals off. It quite an accomplishment, and I keep them accountable to that. You know, you guys set this as a team. You guys have to hold your end of the bargain. They’ve done the things they’ve wanted to do thus far.”

S: As a coach, what is one thing you could  improve on?

RB: “Every day, getting better. Try to develop relationships with your kids. Understanding different emotions, what triggers them. To do things negatively and positively. As a coach I want to be a sponge. I want to know everything about coaching. I want to know everything about every position. I think the more I know, the more I can share with the guys. The more I share with them…the more knowledgeable they are, the better students of the game they will be.  

S: If you could one wish for your team what would it be?

RB: “Experience. Obviously the easy answer would be to win the state championship. I think that’s the no-brainer, but I want everyone just to embrace the experience. It’s something that hasn’t been done here. 9-0 and how energetic our school is, our student section is, the support of the community. This doesn’t happen often in life and If I could have one thing, it’s for them to be able to embrace this experience that they are going through now.”

 

     Besides having a group of extraordinarily talented athletes, the Lakers have been successful because they have Mr. Bellamy as their head coach. Bellamy is charismatic, caring, and a great mentor for these young athletes. The admiration his players feel for him is apparent. One player, Senior Jordan Swanigan said, “He’s a great coach. He’s a coach that actually cares about his players off of the field. He makes sure we’re on top of our schoolwork and if we have any problems, we can go to him. I really appreciate Coach Bellamy and everything he’s done for me and this school.” As the Lakers start their playoff journey on Friday, we here at Spectrum want to wish Bellamy and his team the best of luck, and we will be cheering them on. Let’s go Lakers!