When Kyle Clough accepted the job as head coach of the Seymour boys basketball team, he knew the Owls program needed some restructuring.
A once-storied program, the Owls hadn’t won a conference title since 1993, a sectional championship since 1992 and a regional championship since 1975.
In the three years before Clough arrived, in 2013, the Owls had a combined record of 16-47.
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The last time the team finished .500 was during the 2009-10 season when the Owls went 10-10. The Owls haven’t had a winning record since 2006-07, the squad finished with a 15-7 record.
Following his first season, Clough finished with a record of 3-17. This season, the Owls went 8-14 — matching the same win total from the 2010-11 season.
On Thursday, Clough was the speaker for a Jackson County’s Young Professionals Power Hour program. He talked about how he planned to keeping building the program.
Clough compared his experiences with the basketball team to the business world and how athletics compare to jobs.
“Anytime you can gather some young professionals in our county and to think that they would be interested in what a basketball coach has to say is humbling,” Clough said. “I think there are a lot of things that are similar in athletics and the business world. Anytime you can talk about those and show the athletic world isn’t that much different for the business world … it’s a fight for the top … it’s pretty neat.”
Clough knew when he arrived in Seymour it would be a hard process, like adversity in life.
One of the points he hit hard, for his program, was the objective of sustainability.
Clough wants to build a program from the ground up. He’s enacted a youth basketball program and reached out to the elementary and middle schools in the community to get kids involved in basketball.
There are currently 239 players in kindergarten through sixth grade playing winter basketball.
An issue Clough addressed was making coaching clinics available for all potential players.
With the socioeconomic differences between each child, not all kids could get the attention they needed in the offseason, Clough said.
So, in response, Clough has decided to start holding free youth clinics at schools in the spring.
Upon his arrival, Clough also noticed a divide in the feeder schools. To him, it seemed like there wasn’t enough unity in the program.
So, Clough began attending games at schools such Cortland Elementary — which came as a pleasant shock to the fans and coaches.
At one point in the presentation, Clough talked about having the ability to swallow one’s pride for the betterment of the whole.
Once he arrived in Seymour, Clough reached out to area coaches including Brownstown Central’s Dave Benter and New Albany’s Jim Shannon.
“I think that when asked what I could talk about, and give the most information about, (it was) how do you stay positive and keep moving forward even when you’re struggling and losing some games in your program,” Clough said. “The thing that I learned from my dad a long time ago is to find the games within game — you have to find the challenges within each quarter, within each week and month.”
In his first year, Clough also set his precedent for expectations. He knew tough decisions had to be made in an effort to better suit the program. He has cut two players from the team and suspended six players solely for academic reasons.
The biggest thing Clough emphasized was handling adversity: A skill which doesn’t come naturally — having to adapt to your personnel, resources and social issues.
This season, for the first time in his coaching career, Clough rescheduled five practices because he felt his players weren’t in the right mindset.
If Clough didn’t like what he saw, he canceled practice and held a mandatory 6 a.m. practice the following morning to make up for lost time.
In his first season, only one of his players play travel basketball. Ten plan to play on AAU teams in the coming year.
“If you can put your attention on that you can really emphasize to your players to keep getting better, even if it’s inch-by-inch,” Clough said. “Just to have faith and hope that it’s going to continue to where you hope it will get to be is what keeps you going. It’s what we’ve had to do here in our program. We’ve had to come a long way and still have a long ways to go. We’re just trying to stay in that moment and get better in every experience that we have.”
Clough has spoken at the Lions Club in the past and plans to continue reaching out to the community and also plans on getting his players involved in community service any chance he gets.