Former Blue Hen, Stan Waterman, began playing basketball at the age of five. After continuing his career as a player at Delaware, he became the varsity head coach for Sanford School’s men’s basketball team in Hockessin, Delaware, where he launched his coaching career.
With his sixth state championship win recently under his belt, Waterman said he believes there is more to the game of basketball than just good players. Waterman helped make history at Sanford by being the first school in Delaware to win back-to-back state championships for both the men’s and women’s teams in 2010 and 2011. After years of experience, Waterman gives insight on his secrets to building resilient and talented teams year after year, by not only coaching them during the season, but throughout their high school careers.
What did playing in college teach you that you think helped you the most? Not just in the sense of basketball.
My college basketball career is what pointed me in the direction of coaching. When I got to the University of Delaware I was a back up, so I was coming off of the bench, so I started to see the game differently, in more of a coaching perspective — how to shape a team, how to build a team, working together, teamwork and communication skills. A lot of these things I try to share with the guys I coach now.
What do you think makes a winning team?
You’ve got to have a willingness of your players to understand roles. We’ve had some really talented teams that didn’t win championships. But when you have a team like we had this year, where the chemistry was good, the guys all got along together well, they work well together.
How do you motivate your team?
I think motivation is an individual thing. I think what works for one player doesn’t necessarily work for another. Some kids you yell at and they shut down. But, sometimes that’s what other kids need to get them going. I always say to the guys that one thing I will assure them is that I will always be fair with each one, but in order for me to do that, I’ve got to be different because they all bring something different to the table. But I think success and having the reputation that we have, that, in itself, is motivation. The guys want to continue the legacy and keep the tradition going.
What do you think sets your coaching apart from other coaches?
At the high school level, I look after my guys year round. I think for many coaches it is a seasonal thing. I don’t mean to say that we do it any better than anyone else. It is just different. I try to stay involved with our guys. Letting them know that we care about them and it’s not just basketball. It is about teaching them how to be responsible and productive young men.
What is your role during the off-season?
I will sit down with each one of the guys at the end of the season. We will have a one-on-one meeting and talk about what I see, or areas of improvement, and I always ask them, “where do you see yourself next year?” Then we try and figure out what they need to do to get there. We will have those meetings, we will play in summer leagues, we will have team camps and we will have some outings where we just get together and have some fun.
What do you think the future holds for you and the team?
For the team, my goal is to prepare each one of these guys to go on and have success at the next level, whether they are interested in playing or whatever their major might be academically, so that they are productive and responsible citizens. For me as a coach, I have had goals and dreams of coaching at the next level. I have been so thrilled with what has happened here at Sanford that I am still here 25 years later. I never thought that I’d be coaching high school basketball for 25 years. I have had a few opportunities to move on, but Sanford has been such a fantastic place. But, I would be interested if the right opportunity presented itself.
How do you think coaching has affected your life?
I have been blessed to have some good coaches at every level. I have learned a lot about life through basketball. I have learned what not to do through coaching and the coaches that I have had. It has been both positive and negative, but mostly positive. But for the most part, it’s had a huge impact.