After a successful season that saw the Smyrna boys basketball team win the division for a second straight year and a state tournament game for the third consecutive year, Eagles head coach Mike Starkey was honored by the Delaware Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association with its Coach of the Year Award.
This is the second time in five years Starkey has won the award.
“It’s a great honor to know that so many other coaches in the state have such great respect for what we do here in Smyrna,” Starkey said. “I don’t view this as an individual honor because I know that I’m surrounded by a lot of great people that have contributed to our success. God has truly blessed me here in Smyrna. I have tremendous support from the administration, the best assistant coach in the state in Andrew Mears, and obviously a lot of talented basketball players that are also fine young men. To me, being named Coach of the Year is a reflection of the quality people that we have in our basketball program and that I am so fortunate to be around.”
Starkey has led the Eagles to consecutive Henlopen North championships and three trips to the Bob Carpenter Center for the state quarterfinals in the previous four seasons.
Smyrna standout Andre Gibbs, a first-team all-state player, has high regard for his coach.
“What makes him a great coach is his attention to details,” Gibbs said. “We went into every game with a game plan, and player report. I'm glad I was able to call him my coach for my high school career.”
Starkey says the keys to his success have been good relationships with players and his staff.
“It is such a privilege for me to have the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of my players and coaches. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to get a phone call from a former player or to see them walk back into the gym and hear about what’s going on their lives,” he said. “I trust that the values and principles that they learned while in our basketball program have helped to shape them into better people and have made a positive impact on their lives. Winning games makes things more fun, but the real reward in coaching is the relationships that carry on for a lifetime.”
Even though the Eagles fell short in their quest to become state champions, Starkey was still thrilled with the progress and tenacity his team showed in winning 17 games during the 2011-12 season.
“I am very proud of our team and what they accomplished this year. They went undefeated in conference play and won their second consecutive Northern Division title. This year’s team played by far the toughest non-conference schedule that we’ve ever faced and proved that they could play with the best in the state,” he said. “They fought through so much adversity, including four different players with broken bones, but still managed to make it back to the Henlopen Conference Championship game and earn the number nine seed in the state tournament. Although our season did end a little sooner than we would have liked, I’m so proud that this year’s team played so well together and learned not to let circumstances dictate who they are.”
The coach is also very happy where he is, and he’s hopeful for more success as the Smyrna boys program grows.
“I couldn’t ask for a better place to be coaching than at Smyrna and as long as God doesn’t call me to do something else I hope to coach basketball here for many more years," he said. "We are certainly going to miss our five seniors that are graduating, but we still have a lot of great kids that are really working hard in the classroom, weight room, and on the court. Our goal will be to compete to be the best team in our division again, win the Henlopen Championship, and make a run in the state tournament. That’s the standard that we’ve set and will continue to go after.”