GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- Glen Allen basketball coach Matt McKeag has been around the sport for most of his life. Being the son of a coach will do that to you.
As a coach now himself, he's developed patterns and preferences that hopefully lead to success on the court. He won't call them superstitions, but you might.
"Sometimes it's what we dress," explained McKeag. "If we're on a winning streak we'll wear whatever we've been wearing. If we've been dressing up for some games we also wear polos sometimes. If we get on a winning streak we'll keep the polos on until we lose."
Coaches become creatures of habit. McKeag has a routine with his staff that begins before their game ever tips off and continues until the final horn.
"The things that we get together and talk about on the sidelines that have to do with the tempo of the game that's all decided about what's going on on the court," McKeag continued. "Seeing if we can continue the positive things that are happening or reverse some of the negative things that are happening."
Last week, McKeag decided to take that routine and blow it all up. For one reason.
"Jacob has always expressed a passion for coaching," he said.
Jacob is senior manager Jacob Alley.
He has helped with both the Jaguars football and basketball programs since he was a freshman.
Teams all across the country will put their senior managers into the final game of the season to reward their service. Jacob and his coaches had a different idea.
"Coaching has been my goal since day one," Jacob said.
Jacob was given the chance to come up with a new play for the Jaguars, teach it to them, and open the game on senior night with that play.
"I challenged him," McKeag recalled. "I said all right, you've got 45 minutes. Go over there and draw something up and then in 45 minutes, you're going to lead these guys through your play, whatever you do."
Jacob called the play "Fire" and introduced it to the team three days before their last game.
"It had a lot of fundamentals from basketball in it," Jaguars senior forward D.J. Jones said. "It was a really well-designed play and I could tell he put a lot of thought and effort into it."
"It's actually a good play," Jaguars senior guard Jermaine Gilliam added. "There are different ways you can maneuver through that play to get a bucket. In my opinion, I liked the play."
Jacob put the Jaguars through that play all week. Then the time came to put it to use.
"We didn't get the first shot we wanted taken, how I wanted it to work," Alley explained. "I had different ideas on how I wanted it to go but we made the shot. That's what I was proud of."
"Obviously, we were all a bit nervous at first," Jones said. "But seeing his confidence as he was running the play down and practicing it over and over again, it just clicked in our minds that this was going to work."
There is no doubt in anyone who interacts with Jacob that he would make a good coach one day. Especially since they all know how much he has overcome having autism which makes his accomplishments even more impressive.
"Seeing him go through the things he has to go through and still staying positive about everything. That shows he wants to get better and wants to do things like other people," Jones said.
"When you see a young man that is so passionate and so committed, he's been so loyal to our program both the football and basketball teams throughout the best of times and the worst times," McKeag said. "He's stayed a positive messenger for the entire school."
"We will remember Jacob's abilities and how he's helped our program for years on down the line and be able to go back to his commitment and loyalty," said McKeag. "That's just something you can't really replace."
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