Brother, mother coach sisters on school basketball team
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — There are teams that share an immensely strong bond among the players and coaches, so much so they see themselves as a family.
Oftentimes, there’s a teammate who acts as a big brother or big sister. Some coaches are father figures. Occasionally someone takes on the role of team mother.
In the case of the Calvary Academy girls basketball team, it truly is a family affair. Terrance Paulin, who graduated from Calvary in 2005, is the head coach. His mother, Margaret Paulin, is the assistant coach. Terrance’s sisters, Alliyah Turner and Aryanna Harris, are junior starters for the Saints. Turner is a shooting guard. Harris runs the point.
“When we’re on the court, I’m ‘Coach,’” Terrance said. “When we’re not here, I’m big brother.”
Outsiders might think it odd that he coaches his sisters, but Turner doesn’t know any different. That’s the way it’s always been.
“All my life he’s been my coach and my mom has been the assistant coach,” she said. “Some people might think it’s easier (to be coached by a family member), but he’s tough on me because he wants me to be the best I can be. I really like it. Every practice we’re all together. We’re all working hard together.”
Before Terrance began coaching at Calvary in 2015, the school hadn’t had a girls basketball team for a couple of seasons due to a lack of players. When the opportunity presented itself, he jumped at the chance to coach at his alma mater.
“It’s kind of cool to restart the girls basketball program and get it going again,” said Terrance, who played basketball and ran track for Calvary. “We’ve improved every year.”
Turner and Harris are Calvary’s top two players. Harris averages 20.5 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game. Turner averages 10.7 ppg and 3.5 rpg.
Harris was previously voted to the MSM Conference second team last season. Turner was an MSM honorable mention pick.
“High school goes by so quick and to be able to have the opportunity to coach his sisters, he loves it,” Margaret said.
Sports have been very much part of Margaret’s family for a long time. She has coached her children since they were very young. Margaret, who is employed by the Department of Children and Family Services, was an athlete growing up. She was known as Margaret “Gino” Johnson when she competed in basketball, cross country and track at Jacksonville High School in the 1980s.
“I loved the game of basketball,” Margaret said. “I never thought about, ‘OK, you’re going to coach.’ It just ended up happening. I had a kid. They had a team. So I coached and at first, it was always boys. Then I had a daughter.”
Alliyah and Terrance are biological siblings. Aryanna is not a blood relative, but she has lived with the family for more than three years and they’re all very much part of each other’s lives, making her a sister.
Their lives became intertwined when Terrance and Margaret were coaching basketball at Grant Middle School. Terrance was the head coach and Margaret served as the assistant. At the time, Harris wasn’t on the team because she didn’t have a way to get to and from practice. Margaret volunteered to drive her.
It also took prodding from former Grant athletic director Lori Smith to get Harris to try her hand at organized basketball.
“I started watching her play at lunchtime and she was better than most of the boys out there on the blacktop,” said Smith, now an assistant principal at Springfield High School. “She’d go in for a layup and wasn’t scared and she’d do a crossover, back up, then take a nice little jumper, and it would throw the boys off. I said to her, ‘Why aren’t you out for the basketball team?’ She kind of shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘I just play street ball.’ I said, ‘Not anymore.’”
Harris joined the team and the relationship between Harris and Margaret became much more than player and coach. Margaret stepped in and provided Harris with support and a place to live while her adopted mother dealt with health issues.
Margaret has a huge heart especially when it comes to youth. A former foster child herself, the mother of five has adopted and fostered children.
“Living with her and knowing Alliyah and Terrance, it changed my life,” Harris said. “It made me a better person. I was always in trouble in elementary school. Basketball was always my dream, but I didn’t believe in myself. Living with Margaret, she told me I could be anything I wanted to be and I could do anything I want to do.
“My dream is to play Division I basketball and play in the WNBA. I want to be in sports management or sports medicine. I want to keep with sports because I love sports.”
She also plays for the Saints’ softball and volleyball teams.
Whereas Harris has only played organized basketball since middle school, Turner has played since she was around age four.
“Alliyah’s biggest weapon is her 3-point shot and she’s a really good free-throw shooter, too,” Margaret said. “Aryanna has a NBA 3-point shot. She’s also a good driver.”
Turner is an all-around teenager. She is a member of the National Honor Society. She also plays volleyball and competes in track for Calvary. She’s interested in acting and performing arts. She wants to study theatre and psychology.
Turner wears No. 15 because that used to be her mother’s number.
“It’s a family thing,” she said.
In the near future, Terrance will have the chance to coach another sister. Meishell Roberson, who’s currently in fourth grade at Calvary, is eligible next school year to play for the seventh-grade basketball team. Terrance coaches both the seventh and eighth grade girls teams. Margaret is also part of the junior high staff.
With just one more year of high school left for Turner and Harris, Terrance is thinking about life for his sisters after graduation. He expects them to play at the college level. Terrance and another brother, Malik Turner, both were college athletes. Terrance was on the track team at Greenville College. Malik was a star football player at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School and just wrapped his career at the University of Illinois.
“Aryanna is probably one of the most naturally gifted players I’ve ever coached,” Terrance said. “She has a really good work ethic and is our floor leader. She can shoot from anywhere on the court.
“Alliyah is more of a spot-up shooter. She has a high basketball IQ. She has had to run point guard because Aryanna has been hurt. It makes her a lot better player being able to do that.”
As both coach and older brother, Terrance wears both of his titles proudly. He’s willing do anything for them and that includes sometimes watching from the stands instead of the sidelines.
“I coached them over the summer for three or four years, but last summer they played with the Predators which I loved,” he said. “I thought it was good for them to have someone else’s voice in their ear instead of mine all the time. And it’s nice to go just watch them play.”
Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com