The year was 1986, the setting, Kansas City, MO. Brett Kratzer was about to get his first taste of coaching. His nephew, eager to play basketball, recruited him to head up a youth basketball team.
Soon, one team led to another, and our Coach of the Week eventually found himself organizing his daughter’s team or teams I should say. That’s when recreational coaching shifted to competitive ball and Coach Kratzer was hooked. What began as an after-work hobby for the telecommunications professional, soon developed into a full blown passion.
Through the years, Kratzer, 48, helped shape his daughter Bree’s teams. He began with the Explosion, a well-respected competitive girls team in the MO-KAN area in the early 2000’s. Moving through the age brackets, the Explosion morphed into the Fury and ended with the Vibe, as the girls finished high school.
When his daughter moved on, Coach Kratzer kicked off the Legends Boys Program in support of his younger twin sons, Cade and Cory. Quickly, Legends gained a reputation on the competitive level. In 2008, the program was retired but as always, a new initiative was waiting on the back burner.
Twenty Thirteen, a freshmen boys program, was immediately launched and Coach Kratzer committed to a new group of players through their high school graduation year of 2013. Twenty Thirteen began play on Feb 1 of 2009 and have garnered an 82-18 record. Top of their winning record with six consecutive tournament titles, an 18-game winning streak and a gold medal at the 2009 MO Show Me State Games and it’s clear Kratzer’s coaching methods are effective.
“As character development is a priority for Twenty Thirteen, they frequently incorporate a Bible study on Sunday nights following tournament games,” wrote Coach Kratzer. “It gives the guys a chance to discuss challenges they may be facing.”
When he’s not heading up one of the best youth teams around, Coach Kratzer also coaches the Twenty Sixteen, which features many younger siblings from his Twenty Thirteen team. Kratzer’s successful coaching career has earned him quite the reputation. Even so, he wrote that though his teams always strive to win, he emphasizes the need to compete more.
“I want them to contest every bounce, every pass and every shot. In the end, I am convinced that many life lessons can be learned through basketball,” he wrote.
Coach Kratzer expressed that his motivation for coaching stems from his love of the game and a desire to invest in people. He believes the skills he teaches and promotes to his players (teamwork, loyalty, toughness, leadership and commitment) will remain with them throughout their lives
Coach Kratzer’s Keys to Success:
“I attribute much of my success in life to lessons learned early on in sports,” he wrote. “Life will become competitive for them, and as they move through it, it is important that they respect the opponents while executing a plan for success.”
Encourage young people to find their passion in life. It may not be sports…and that is okay!
Nail the fundamentals early! Basketball is most often reduced to lay-ups and free throws
Realize that players are smarter than you might give them credit for. Involve them in strategy discussions. Help them understand WHY you do what you do.
Demand effort, not results. I believe our society, in large part, maxes out at about 80%. Some aren’t familiar with “old school” commitment. Acquaint them with it!
Enjoy the experience. Too often, youth sports evolve into a high school experience where there just may not be enough roster spots or the player’s skills don’t match what the coach is looking for. While they are young, demand they play hard but allow freedom to create, to shoot and experiment. Go to overnight tournaments, and many pizza joints!