Coach Roderick Bonner
Roderick Bonner prides himself on being able to teach life skills through basketball. That’s why he got into coaching in the first place. He’s a family-orientated man who treats his team, the Consortium Cougars, like a family. And he loves being a positive influence to his boys. At home, when he’s not spending time with his kids, he’s breaking down tape and taking notes in what he calls his “basketball bible.”
As a basketball player growing up, Bonner said he was a ball hog. His coaches would always tell him that “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” “I was doing real good in the PAL league,” he said. “And then we were up against a good team, and I was a ball hog, and we got blown out. It just taught me that there are five people out there on the court for a reason.” Now as a coach, he has implemented that old cliché as a rule. In order to win, his team must work collectively as a unit. Unselfish, scrappy and hard-nosed are just a few adjectives that can best describe the Cougars. That’s the way Bonner teaches the Cougars to play the game.
When it comes to school, Bonner urges his team to do more than the minimum. He doesn’t want his players to settle for less, he wants them to do more. He described a recent practice in which only four players attended, but those who missed were no-shows for a good reason…they were in tutoring. The kicker is that some of the seven were actually eligible and didn’t need to be in tutoring to play. But Bonner, a Detroit PAL alumnus said, “Don’t just be eligible, do better. When you can get a 3.0, don’t settle for a 2.0.”
The emphasis that Bonner puts on doing well in school is evident in one of his current players, who shall remain nameless. According to Bonner, this player is the best on the team, but his grades weren’t where they needed to be when the season started earlier this winter. However, after a sit-down with the player and his parents, and a continual push to do better, the player’s grades and attitude toward school improved dramatically. Bonner said that “basketball [has got to] be secondary.” School comes first. He tells the boys on his team to use whatever they need to motivate themselves to do well in school. Whatever it may be – sports or anything they can think of, they must use that to propel themselves to be successful in the classroom.
He doesn’t coach for the money, of which he receives none, nor any accolades. He coaches for the kids who need the positive support, the motivation to do better and someone to teach them about life beyond basketball. And he coaches for the love – of the game, the kids and the craft.
“I love coaching. Almost too much…no, like, seriously.”
– Roderick Bonner, Detroit PAL and Consortium Cougars basketball coach