Lyndon Debellote, known to the DC basketball circle as “Black” is a friend and mentor to not only me, but also many other young aspiring athletes in the DC area. He is the head coach of a 15 and older DC AAU team. The University of DC alumnus has assisted his players in achieving success even when they are matched up with teams above their age bracket. Black attributes his success to instilling and teaching loyalty to each and every one of his players.

Coach Black has molded his entire life around the concepts of loyalty. His mother taught him the importance of loyalty from a very young age. In his personal life he finds simplicity in remaining loyal to his one close friend Bird B Free. From the first day he began coaching, Black has taught his student athletes that loyalty is what will bring them success in life and get them to the next level in basketball.

According to Black, loyalty starts within the player himself. The player must be loyal to his body and mind by making intelligent life choices and maintaining a healthy diet and relations with others. A person must also remain loyal to whoever is in their corner. If a player starts with a team, he should stick it out and build himself into a basketball machine. Loyalty must be applied to the court by developing an unwavering commitment to playing basketball and improving one’s abilities. A great player must eat, sleep, and breathe basketball, says Black.

Coach Black teaches his players to believe in his system and be loyal to him, themselves, and their teammates. This is fulfilled by not missing practice or games, and also through punctuality and putting forth as much effort toward success as possible. He wants his players to understand, that as a coach, winning is not the only area in which he seeks success. He seeks to make his players well-rounded individuals who will achieve in life, as they can only be basketball players for so long.

Coach Black shows loyalty and maintains it even when parents move their children on to another team. Over the years, he has had players leave to other teams, but he still attends their high school games. He also extends  invites to workouts to them, puts their names on lists for prestigious camps, and even sends media blitzes about certain players to top universities around the country.

It is unfortunate for some young athletes who have parents that live vicariously through their children. These parents don’t always make the right choices for their kids. Black has watched starters from his team leave to become role players or benched on other teams.  However, he does not hold that against the player and still attempts to be there for them.

An example of success through Coach Black’s philosophy is a young man by the name of Wesley Martin. Coach believes that there is no substitute for effort and hustle. The best player is not always the player who is has the most talent or the most potential. It is the one who works the hardest, never complains, and never questions the coach’s decisions. Coach Black had explained to Wesley’s mother that if they were loyal, worked hard, and had faith in his system, that success would be achieved naturally.

That is exactly what happened. Two years ago Wesley wasn’t playing, but through repetitions and hard work, he has developed confidence as a player and as a person. Wesley is now averaging ten points, fifteen rebounds, and seven blocks per game.

Black believes that where most high school and AAU coaches fall short is that they have never played basketball. He thinks that coaches are concerned solely with winning and that the athlete is often overlooked. Instead of building a program of their own, coaches mimic a book or use another successful coach’s philosophy.

Another area Black believes coaches fall short in is that they don’t improve the core of the team or the bench players. He quoted Red Auerbach in saying, “Why have a bench if you aint gonna use em?” Getting practice and game repetition will build confidence in the bench and create more opportunities to exploit the other team. Most teams are open for attack due to the inconsistent use of their bench players. I believe most would agree that all the great teams in history not only possessed a great starting five, but also a great bench. Without using the bench or running the team as a unit, it should be difficult to consider yourself a team at all. It seems so simple, but it is evident that the reality is most coaches are inconsistent. However, this is a good thing for coach Black as he and his players continue to enjoy the benefits and success through his philosophy of loyalty.

AccessAthletes would like to thank Coach Black for taking time out of his busy schedule to do an interview with Reeve Cononi and The Real Athlete Blog.