Peoples business

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 12, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

This season has been a unique experience for the Peoples family.

The father, Frankie, is coaching a basketball team that has risen in the rankings and is on the watch list for squads that will make noise deep into the playoffs.

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The son, Jerel, has gradually established himself as a solid contributor and should continue to do so as the season wears on.

Here they are side by side for, believe it or not, the very first time.

“He’s never played for me, at least not organized basketball,” Frankie said. “But I taught him the fundamentals long ago. I’m a firm believer that if you teach good fundamentals, a kid won’t get away from it, no matter who he plays for.”

The elder Peoples has coached on every high school level and in college.

Now that they are together, it seems everything is going according to plan.

The Panthers are a top-ranked team, but it’s not as if there is any favoritism being shown.

Jerel didn’t start until the middle of the season, and on any given night a different player will log the most points and most minutes for Southside.

The coach’s abilities as a teacher and mentor, however, stand out more than what he does on the basketball floor.

“He taught me first, always work hard and in order to succeed, I have to stay focused,” Jerel said. “I feel pretty good about our chances this season. I get to contribute, and we work hard as a team.”

When listing his criteria for molding a student-athlete, Coach Peoples’ expectations as far as competition are further down on the list than one might expect from a successful coach.

His first priority is protecting the safety of his players. Next, he expects them to maintain good character, then to achieve in the classroom.

What happens during a game only matters if the first three areas are taken care of.

That’s especially true for his own son. Peoples said he never asked nor expected Jerel to leave Selma High and follow him to Southside.

But now that they’re together, things couldn’t get a whole lot better.

“He was in the Early College program at Selma, and I really didn’t expect him to come. But when he found out I was coming, it was his decision,” Coach Peoples said. “We sat down and weighed the pros and cons. He looked at me one day and said, ‘You know I’m going to college because all the people in this family have finished college. But I’ll never get another chance to play for you again.’

“One of the big things is I get to spend quality time with him. Even though we were already spending time together, now it’s for a common goal.”