The Heart of the Sport: How to Bring Positivity to Coaching

Matthew Salazar, Reporter

The game of basketball has been around for more than 100 years and has become an amazing sport, not only for the players, but for people who come together and enjoy watching a game. Having a love of playing, watching and coaching is what led West’s new boys varsity coach to the sport.

Josh Muehlenkamp has been teaching for 12 years and has been the varsity basketball coach at West since 2018. Muehlenkamp got into basketball due to the cold temperatures in Fairbanks where he grew up. He disliked going outside to play in the winter. Coaching has very much affected Muehlenkamp’s life in a positive way, and he wants to continue passing that positivity on to future generations. “Most students, if they’re on the basketball team, they want to play basketball and they want to be successful. So you can help guide them, mentor them, and try to get them successful as they can be,” he says.

Muehlenkamp’s coaching philosophy is to be aggressive both offensively and defensively. During team warm-ups, Muehlenkamp usually has the team do some lay-ups, passing and defensive work. “I normally get about nine kids in consistently, you know if you’re running and pressing and going after the other team, you can rotate more kids in, and the more kids that play the better your team gets and the more fun you have,” he says.

He thinks the players expect that he doesn’t miss practice, he values his time as much as their time and that he does his best every day. Muehlenkamp wants his players to do their best every day, treating each other well. “I kind of go by three simple things: show up, work and be a good teammate. And if you show up, work and you’re a good teammate you’re going to get far in this life,” he says.

One thing that Muehlenkamp wants to improve about his team is the start consistency on their work rate, “You know if we consistently play together and consistently work hard we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win the ultimate prize, a state championship.”

Joel Martinez is a senior and plays on the varsity basketball team. What Martinez likes about basketball has always been the crowd because of the excitement and energy they bring. “The crowd. That’s what I like during the games, they get you pumped and screaming everybody’s name,” Martinez says.

Before every game Martinez enjoys having a great meal and watching football highlights. Working hard and hustling are aspects of the game that come easy for Martinez. He has learned a lot from basketball, and believes the patience and communication help other areas in his life. “You’re always going to be an individual; you’re eventually going to be part of a team and being able to work with other people, and to have patience and communicate is an important tool in the future.” Kobe Bryant is a role model that got Martinez into basketball.