You had to know she wasn’t going away. You don’t put as much work into a passion — in this case coaching — just to simply walk away.
So when Ladreda Akins left Warner University as head coach in the spring, it was just a question of where and when she would show up again as she figured to have a number of coaching opportunities at the high school and college levels. Compiling a 313-99 record in 14 years of high school coaching, including three trips to the state tournament, will open a lot of doors.
Akins had opportunities, but instead she has decided to focus her coaching energies on teaching and developing players, rather than coaching a team. Still a teacher at Haines City High school, Akins has started her own company, Basketball Unlimited. She hosts camps and individual training sessions.
“I always wanted to build girls in Polk County all together because this is where I’m from,” Akins said. “Just giving kids knowledge of the game. Because it’s more than just having the kids do drills, but actually teaching the game of basketball because that’s lost with girls basketball.”
Akins said when she was at Haines City, she felt limited to just helping Haines City players because she didn’t want to people to think she was trying to recruit those players.
“Now that I’m by myself and with my own business, I’m not affiliated with any school or college, you have coaches outside of Polk County or within Polk County saying, ‘I’ll listen to her,’ or ‘I’ll help her out, I like what she’s trying to do.’?”
Akins had plenty of help at her first camp under the company banner last weekend at Kathleen High School. Among those helping her at the camp were Kathleen head coach Terrence Cobb, Haines City assistant Derrick Spillman, former Haines City player LaDerricka Spillman and former Lake Gibson stars Eunisha Proctor and Antonia Bennett. From outside Polk County was Ben Bromley, an AAU coach and an assistant coach at Seffner Armwood. There were about 20 players at the camp from the fourth through 12th grades, including Bromley’s 9-year-old, Keyara, who might have been the best player on court. She goes to school in Tampa.
Akins said she sets up the drills in her camp to help teach players what to do in game situations, part of her effort to teach the overall game of basketball. She said too many coaches focus on drills without giving players the understanding of what to do in game situations.
Akins, a 1989 graduate of Haines City and a 1993 graduate of Florida Southern, said she learned a lot about running camps by working at camps run by Florida Gators coach Amanda Butler.
Akins also credited former WNBA star Nadine Domond, who was just hired as coach at Grambling, and Kim Davis-Powell, who coaches Essence Girls Basketball AAU, with giving her the inspiration to start her business, giving her valuable advice and guidance.
Akins also remains active in AAU basketball as the director of Florida’s Finest. This past year, she left the coaching of the three Florida’s Finest teams to others and said like her camps, she wants to open up the teams to Polk County players beyond Haines City.
Akins hasn’t ruled out returning to coaching at the high school or college level and isn’t sure how long she’ll simply run camps and individual teaching sessions.
“It’s not like this is a job, a money-making job,” Akins said. “It’s something I really enjoy doing.”