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Gregory Addison is just under a month into his time as head of the Snider girls basketball program.
He was approved by the Fort Wayne Community Schools board May 7 and has already begun building his team, implementing policies on and off the court.
“The ultimate goal is to make them leaders,” he said. “Basketball may not work out, but they can use those skills, and through sports – I'm going to utilize that platform to instill those qualities within my girls.”
Addison, a 12-year veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department, has spent the last few years as the school resource officer and girls basketball coach at Portage Middle School. He also has 20 years in the military, currently in the Air National Guard.
He played high school basketball at Hammond in northwest Indiana and a couple years at a junior college in Illinois before enlisting in the military. He takes over at Snider following the resignation of Greg Friend, who went 22-22 in his two years.
Addison recently received his master's degree in organizational leadership. He wrote his thesis on adolescent leadership.
“Being a school resource officer, that's what drew me to the thesis,” he said. “Being able to understand the adolescents. The things I learned, knowing that teens don't develop until they're 25. When you interact with an adolescent and youth, you have to build trust. I need to use empathy and treat them with respect so they can trust me through building relationship with them.”
Leading the Panthers' program will be his first stint as a high school coach but through his time as the resource officer and coach at Portage, he feels he has the skill set to adjust to the higher level.
Assistant coaches Kaylyn Speed, who coached under Friend, and former Elmhurst and Snider standout Liza Clemons should ease the transition on the personnel side, as well.
“Kaylyn, she has a great relationship with the girls,” Addison said. “Her having that relationship with the girls has allowed my transition to be a lot easier. She's interacting with me in a positive way and they see me interacting with her and they learn to trust me.
“I'm also bringing in Liza Clemons. She had a successful career at Purdue. She can come in and show the girls how fast the game should be. She'll be a great asset to have.”
The speed of the game is the biggest obstacle for players transitioning from middle school to high school.
The goal before the season is to have the incoming freshmen adjust to that increase in tempo.
“The speed of the game is a lot different between middle school and high school. My biggest obstacle is to get the girls coming in as freshmen, transition to get them to the high school level.”
A few incoming freshmen have had a taste of the higher level, but it will be a learning process.
“We've been doing open gyms, and we just did a tournament this past week in Chicago,” Addison said. “We played good as a team. I took five or six eighth-graders along with some varsity players from last year. We had some issues working as a team initially, but we figured them out. A lot of the girls don't play with each other. We hung in there.
“We're going to Trine University this weekend, and I'm going to take a different group of incoming freshmen so they get a little bit of a taste.”