Play with Fire, with Focus and for Family. It’s the message central to the mission of the Ferndale High School Boys’ Basketball program and representative of the types of lessons taught by coaches and teachers that extend beyond the sport itself or task at hand.
FHS Boys’ Basketball Coach Jason Owens, in his fifth year as head coach and ninth year overall with Ferndale High School Boys’ Basketball, has been coaching for 30 years and works to create a culture that develops leadership, life skills and values beyond the coaching of basketball fundamentals. The team motto is a driving force in establishing the culture of the program.
“Playing with Fire, with Focus and for Family starts with fire, our passion, to find what we’re passionate about and pursue it,” Owens said. “Our focus on our passion is measured by preparation and commitment; it is a sense of determination and resoluteness. And ‘for family’ means we want players to consider who is family to them and not take that for granted. Our team becomes a family and we use our shared commitments and values to work together.”
Owens sees the value of sport as a way to understand mindset and overcome adversity. An assistant coach for the program, Mike McKenzie, specializes in mental training and peak performance coaching. Owens said McKenzie's expertise focuses on teaching positive forward-thinking mindsets and accountability.
"There's something powerful about teamwork and being part of something bigger than yourself," Owens said. "Finding ways to overcome adversity can be tough to see in day-to-day life...in basketball we have to be on the same page at the same time and all work together with communication to achieve our goals."
Part of the program's philosophy emphasizes community service and servant leadership. The team spoke at Ferndale elementary school assemblies during the recent season and participated in servanthood projects for the community. One such project was taking down holiday lights around town. Themed game nights during the season included community service focuses such as food drives, clothing drives and a holiday giving tree night.
"They competed and they played hard," Owens said of the Golden Eagles' 2018-19 season. "They know it's more than just basketball as we work to prepare lifelong learners and servant leaders."
The most recent season featured nine seniors, a special group that exemplified the culture the program strives to create, according to Owens. The team finished 11-9 overall and 6-7 in conference play.
“The goals and program vision of FHS Boys’ Basketball and Coach Owens’ leadership are representative of our FHS Athletics & Activities programs,” Ferndale High School Director of Athletics & Activities Eric Tripp said. “Students participating in FHS Athletics & Activities have the opportunity to learn and practice important team values that extend beyond technical skills and fundamentals and will serve them well in many areas of their lives.”
Coming up this summer will be the FHS Boys' Basketball Camp June 24-26 for students entering 4th through 8th grade. More information and registration info is available on the FHS website.