CHESTER, Va. -- It can be a daily struggle for coaches to find ways to reach their players.
When they have a particularly young team, that hasn't started a season all that well...sometimes they will use what they can to help the roster come together.
Thomas Dale head coach Braxton Byerson used the viral scene from the movie "Bird Box" to help his players trust each other more on the court.
Byerson is not that far removed from his playing days on this same court, but he learns something new every day about dealing with today's athletes
"With the generation now, you have to have the energy, but you also have to be methodical and make sure everything is planned out the way it needs to be planned out so they can understand," Byerson explained during a recent practice. "You have to take your time. You have to make sure everyone is comfortable. You have to make sure everyone understands what you want to do in order for them to be successful in order for the program to be successful."
After graduating from Virginia Union with a marketing degree, teaching and coaching was one of the furthest things from Byerson's mind -- even though he had played basketball most of his life.
The Knights made the Central Region playoffs three straight years when he played and he has found himself leading the charge to get back there again.
"I know the rich history that Thomas Dale has," Braxton said. "That's all we want to do is bring it back to where it was before."
Who would know more about that? His brother might. Brad Byerson is four years older, and in much the same way that Braxton found himself leading their alma mater's program, Brad has found himself helping out as an assistant coach.
"I never thought I was going to be coaching," Brad said. "When I got the opportunity to coach here, I just fell in love with it. I loved how the kids progressed and matured on the court, off the court. It just felt like it was the right thing to do."
So both Byersons are now trying to teach the lessons they learned from longtime Dale coach Eddie Goss who coached the Knights for 26 seasons and won 557 games over a 44 year career.
Today's players might not remember some of those wins, but the Byersons can quickly point to their pedigree at Dale to show their players the kind of success that can be achieved.
"Once they figured out who me and Braxton were, they were like, oh, I need to listen to them," Brad said. "I need to do this because he's been here already and he knows the lifestyle."
If two Byersons on a staff is good, then three is even better. Dana Byerson has been an assistant with the Knights program since 2001, after a 21-year stint in the U.S. Army. But he has been a coach for his sons longer than that.
"They run plays, they know the referees, they know the game," Dana said of his sons. "They're excellent coaches. I don't know about anyone else, but to me, they're excellent coaches and I love them for it."
So just calling out "Coach Byerson" at these practices won't do a player any good:
- Coach B is Braxton
- Coach Byerson is Brad
- Coach Pop is Dana
And when Coach Pop has the whistle, there's no question who's in charge.
"Sometimes I have to take a step back and let dad take control as always," Braxton explained.
"He gives is a little leeway, but once he gets the whistle, we're just on the sidelines helping him out," Brad added.
"They listen to me every now and then, but they're the head coaches and I'm the assistant. I listen to them also" Dana said.
"We try to get them to be great young men, respectable young men. That's what we're trying to get out of them," Braxton explained.
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