It’s been a busy few months for the Fields family.
First, Kevin Fields, the head coach of the Sarasota High boys basketball team, left the program for the chance to start the men’s basketball program at Florida Gateway College in Lake City from scratch. Then Kaleb Fields, a senior on the basketball team and Kevin’s son, committed to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. On April 17, the school announced its replacement for Kevin, and it’s someone with intimate knowledge of both the school and how Kevin ran the program.
It’s Kevin’s younger brother, Mike Fields, 39, who coached the junior varsity team last season. On the surface, this was a no-brainer, but digging deeper … yeah, still a no-brainer. Kevin led the Sailors to 21-56 record over three seasons, but he took over a program that went 1-21 the year prior, and as Mike pointed out, he did everything “the right way.” That means making sure players learn to be on time, and that they’re held accountable for things they do on and off the court.
Mike plans on continuing that legacy while putting his own spin on things. He led the JV team to a 20-2 record, the first time in school history the team has reached 20 wins, and many of those players will be on the varsity squad next season. He himself played basketball in his youth, but he admittedly wasn’t the best at it. He was taller than a lot of kids, so he could get the ball in the post, turn around and shoot at will, but football was his sport. He received a scholarship to Virginia Union University, and since then, it has been his mission to give kids the same feeling he had upon receiving his. Once you prove you can help kids in that way, respect levels climb ever higher.
“Classwork is first,” Mike said. “It’s about hard work and sacrifice, and I’ll address that with the kids. It’s not just about wins, not just about basketball. I want to get them to the next level. It’s about who you are as a person.”
Mike said he and Kevin still talk about the program every day. Kevin had “keen eyes” for kids with good character, and Mike hopes to retain that skill. Kevin has also taught Mike how important the little things are when running a program, like when Mike would run late JV practices and forget to turn off the lights in the gym afterwards. Or set the alarm.
“He would jump down my throat for that,” Mike said, laughing.
Mike said he feels comfortable taking over for his brother, who he knows is going to do big things in Lake City, and Kevin feels similarly. Morale is high, as Mike said. The culture created within the Sailors will remain, and that means only good things for kids who pass through the program.
“He studies the game daily,” Kevin said. “Coach Mike is a learner. He never thinks he knows it all. He is in a great situation as he is walking into a empty nest. He can rebuild and recreate the same success he had last year.”