There’s a new man at the helm of the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies this winter, but he’s certainly not a new face.
Longtime assistant coach Pat Winland started practice Monday as the new head boys basketball coach at RMHS, taking the reins from longtime head coach Michael Simmons, who took a job with the LDS Church in California this summer after coaching the Grizz for 12 seasons.
Winland had been Simmons’ right-hand man for nine of his 12 years, and he coached two years at the middle school level. He has also served as head football coach at RMHS and coached track and field at the middle school, as well.
Thus, Winland is no stranger to Rocky Mountain athletics, and he knows the basketball program well. Such was his effectiveness that he was named last spring as Boys Basketball Assistant Coach of the Year by the Wyoming Coaches Association.
Winland said he has had many mentors including Simmons, his father, Ralph, brothers Tim and Rod, and coaches who taught him like Gus Gerhardt and Ron Osborne.
“Michael taught me to put the program first,” he said, “to make decisions based on what’s best for the program and team before the individual. As a staff we need to do that. It benefits everyone.
“I’ve encompassed what I learned from Tim, Rod, Michael, by dad and all the other coaches I’ve had like Mr. Gerhardt and Coach Osborne. From Michael I learned to put the organization first, from my dad I learned to keep it simple. Tim taught me to coach when I was real young, and Rod was a big help teaching me the ins and outs of coaching.
Coaches Osborne and Gerhardt taught me fundamentals, and how important they are.”
Asked about his philosophy, Winland said he will run a more patterned offense in half-court sets, with more screens, than in the past, but the Grizzlies will also capitalize on their athleticism and “run as much as we can.” He added, “We’ll look for the three-point shot but will emphasize getting the ball inside more.”
There are 25 players out for the squad this year in the form of five seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and 13 freshmen. Four starters return in seniors Jonathan Allred, Tristan Jewell and Lathan May and junior Ethan Price. Senior Colby Davison saw lots of playing time, as well.
Assistant coaches are Jerry Bellmyer (JVs) and Justin Moss (freshmen), as well as volunteer Jeff Samson.
“I’m excited,” Winland said. “I’m ready to go. The staff is ready to go. We had a good practice last night (Monday).
“I’d like to thank the administration, school board and Mr. Hocker (supt.) for giving me the opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up.”
By David Peck