Varsity Boys Basketball Team Learns Life Lessons on “Manly Mondays”

Photo by Joey Sims.

Photo by Joey Sims.

While the Varsity Boys Basketball team has had an impressive season, with an overall record of 22-14, the Hornets are learning about more than just basketball.

Since the season started in November, Varsity Boys Basketball coach Joey Sims has been teaching the team life lessons in weekly “Manly Mondays” sessions.

“I’m a teacher first,” Sims said. “Whenever people ask me what my profession is, I’m a teacher and also a coach. I want to give something back to these kids that they can carry with them and hopefully pass on to someone else.”

Every Monday, for about 15 minutes after practice, Sims teaches the team lessons: basic manners; how to tie a tie; perform CPR; do laundry or write letters of gratitude.

“These lessons are really useful tools for the real world,” said Varsity Basketball Captain Grant Bulmash, a Greenhill senior. “It’s cool to do something other than basketball with your team.”

Recently, for example, each player was instructed to perform three acts of kindness every day and make their bed every morning.

“I told them, ‘every morning, if you make your bed, you’ve already accomplished something,’” Sims said.

Manly Mondays have become popular among coaches across America via social media. Sims credits a coach somewhere in the northern United States for his introduction to the phenomenon. Other sources suggest the concept originated with an Alabama high school coach named Cody Gross, who began sharing Facebook videos with his team.

“The big thing is, as coaches, we can have a big impact on young men,” Gross said in an interview with The Alabama Media Group. “That’s why I do what I do. When [last] season ended, I felt the need to be more intentional about some things we do. We try to model the behaviors we expect.”

Like Gross, many coaches see their role as extending far beyond a court or field.

“When I saw football teams doing it, I thought, that’s a really cool idea because he’s teaching them life lessons they can use outside their particular sport,” Sims said. “I wanted to try to give something more to these kids. They need it.”

As students become busier with academic classes, sports, arts and extracurriculars, dedicated time to learn life lessons tends to be forgotten.

“I think this is something other coaches should do because it just shows that Coach [Sims] cares about us not just as a basketball team, but as individual people,” said sophomore Ryan Saqueton.

Many students agree that coaches should also serve as mentors. In that vein, Manly Mondays have become a bonding exercise between Sims and his players.

“It’s something I’ve looked forward to from the very beginning,” Bulmash said. “I think a lot of my teammates do as well.”

Sims and team members hope their experiences will encourage more coaches to introduce life lessons into their practices. Such an investment in each player shows true commitment, Sims said.

“I think each teacher on this campus gives something in their own special way,” Sims said. “For my program, I think it fits perfectly for my kids.”

For Greenhill basketball players, a successful season on the court has become even more memorable because of their Manly Mondays experiences.

“If there is one thing coaches can teach their athletes, it’s how to become not only better athletes but better people,” said junior guard Davis Gutow. “I think every team at Greenhill and every team in the world should be doing it.”


Photo by Joey Sims.


First Person Review- Davis Gutow

Heading into a highly anticipated 2019-2020 basketball season, I was incredibly excited to begin practicing, competing and bonding with my teammates.

We began our pre-season with occasional shooting practices on weekday mornings and various lifts in the afternoons. It seemed like a typical way to begin the basketball season.

Finally, in early November our season began. During the second week of our regular season, Coach Sims told us he needed to make an announcement. However, this did not seem like the usual Coach Sims speech or a pep talk, this was something different. None of the guys knew what was going on, not even our three captains.

Coach Sims told us that we were going to begin a new weekly tradition, Manly Mondays. My teammates and I smiled and glanced over at one and other, still a little curious about the situation. Coach proceeded to explain that we would be learning different life lessons every Monday after practice. He told us we would learn how to do our laundry, iron clothes, jumpstart cars and treat dates. I was thrilled to hear the news, and my teammates and I were already looking forward to our first Manly Monday.

After a long week, the time had come for our first Manly Monday session! We huddled around Coach Sims in his office, and he started the lesson out by asking if anyone did not know how to tie a tie. A few guys shyly lifted their hands, while the rest of the team chuckled. Coach Hill and Coach Ainsworth demonstrated the way they tied their own ties, while we all absorbed this important life lesson. Immediately after the first session came to a conclusion, Senior Collin McDade asked, “Coach, what’s on the agenda for next week?”

For the past two months, we have incorporated a Manly Monday session into every Monday practice. My favorite session of the season was writing letters to our parents. At the end of one practice, Coach Sims walked us down to the team room in front of our locker room. On the table were pens, paper and envelopes. Coach told that our session was going to be writing a letter to our parent(s), and thanking them for everything.

This season has been filled with ups and downs on the basketball court. But off the court, my teammates and I have learned so much beyond basketball. Manly Mondays have also helped to bring the team closer than any other Greenhill Basketball team that Coach Sims has coached.