Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 13, 2013
GRANITE QUARRY — Allison Dupree Adams’ whistle punctuates the air.
“Look at me!” she shouts to her seventh-grade girls team at Erwin Middle School.
The players dribble toward her at game speed until the whistle makes them stop. They’re wearing goggles that prevent them from looking down at the ball as they dribble.
Ed Dupree, Allison’s 71-year-old father and assistant coach, stands nearby with a yellow legal pad in hand.
“We still do some fundamental work with these girls,” Dupree explains. “They’re behind a little bit.”
Through much of the practice, the players work on things such as pivoting, faking, crossovers, dribble hesitation and jump stops. They’re constantly running full-court passing and dribbling drills that end in layups. They work on outlet passes, defensive stances and shooting from different spots in the gym.
Later during a half-court strategy session, Adams explains how they will employ a trick defense on the Erwin Eagles’ next opponent, North Rowan. It’s a 1-1 zone in the middle with three of the girls playing man-to-man — a box-and-three, if you will.
The game plan didn’t completely work the next day as the Eagles struggled offensively and lost the game.
But that’s hardly the norm for Erwin Middle since Adams took over as girls coach 12 years ago — and gladly accepted assistance from her stats-crazy father.
Since then, Adams has posted 279 wins and a 77.2 winning percentage in a grueling winter basketball schedule that sees the eighth-grade season and tournament spill over into the seventh-grade’s season.
Adams coaches them both, and out of 22 previous teams, 14 have made the tournament finals. With her father by her side, Adams has coached nine first-place regular season teams and five tournament champions.
“She absolutely hates to lose,” says Adams’ mother, Bitsy Dupree.
Adams’ coaching success story may be coming to an end.
Married last fall, the 34-year-old coach says she’s 99 percent sure she will give up basketball after the current season and devote more time to her husband, golfing professional Frank Adams.
Her 10- to 12-hour days at school don’t mesh with Frank’s schedule, especially in the winter when he’s home the most.
If Adams follows through on her decision, it will end one of the great father-daughter coaching stories in Rowan County.
“When she gives it up, I’ll miss it,” says Dupree, retired sports editor of the Salisbury Post. “I’ll miss the girls, but I’ll especially miss her.”
Fresh out of Catawba College, Adams started teaching physical education and coaching at Erwin Middle during the 2001-2002 school year.
She was only 22 and began with seventh-graders only.
“I don’t think I knew exactly what to expect then,” Dupree says. “But I knew how I wanted to treat the kids — and set high expectations.”
The following winter started her 11 straight years of coaching both teams — and she thinks it has helped her program and her players.
She ended up being their coach for a solid two-and-a-half years, starting with team camps when they were in sixth grade, and continuing until they were ready for high school.
One of her biggest coaching rewards, she says, is seeing the players’ improvement over the two years in school. Former East Rowan High Coach Jesse Watson, the all-time winningest girls coach in Rowan County, says it’s an important part of Adams’ success.
“I see evidence as a former coach,” Watson says, “of her teams getting better from the beginning of the season to the end of the season.”
Watson appreciates how well Adams seems to relate to her players, her emphasis on fundamentals, her willingness to coach set offenses and defenses and the dedication.
“You can tell she loves the game,” Watson says. “Ed, too.”
Watson and Dupree, Allison’s father, know each other from all the years Dupree reported on games for the Salisbury Post. Over the years, Watson says, Dupree saw a lot more basketball games than most coaches, and he understood the importance of certain statistics.
Knowing who the team’s best rebounders are, the best foul shooters and the most turnover-prone players represent the kind of information coaches can use.
It’s all on the yellow legal pad Dupree keeps with him at games and practices. In all, not counting summer camps, the father-daughter team has now coached more than 370 games together.
“I’m sure Ed has been a tremendous help to her,” Watson says. “Ed is a very knowledgeable person about basketball.”
At practices, Dupree often helps players with their shooting forms or encourages them to get lower on defense.
During games, he might suggest changes on offense or certain substitutions.
“It’s nice to have a different opinion,” his daughter says.
Adams believes in having her players elect team captains.
“They usually choose the right person,” she says.
Adams holds a parents meeting at the beginning of each season to lay out rules and expectations. She refuses to talk with parents about their children’s playing time, but her coaching style leads to plenty of substitutions.
Over the years, Adams has driven some players home and picked them up for practice so they could be part of the team.
She acknowledges the distractions that sometimes comes with having such young players, who might be worried about boyfriends or what to do with their hair.
But through a season, the team focus deepens. She and her father have set offenses for every situation, and they teach the Roy Williams fastbreak.
“We have developed a system, and you stick with what works,” Adams says.
And they’ll employ defenses designed to stop, if their players can, the other team’s best players.
“The one thing I believe in,” Dupree says, “is trick defenses.”
Allison calls her assistant coach “Ed” as often as she does “Dad.”
“He’s the stat man,” Bitsy Dupree says of the coaching relationship, “and he calls her ‘Boss.’”
After they kiss each other goodbye on game days, Adams usually calls her father at home the same night, just to go over what happened.
“I like to see that they’re doing something together,” Bitsy Dupree says, “but they always have.”
Ed Dupree says his little girl always was an athlete.
When she was 10 — and only a proud Dupree would remember this — Allison reached base safely in every at-bat during an entire slow-pitch softball season.
She played basketball and ran cross country for East Rowan High School. Adams, who is only 5 feet, 5 inches tall, became an all-conference cross country runner at Catawba College.
Adams took up golf rather late in her school life. Still, she was one of the first four women to play golf at Catawba.
Adams and her playing partner, Grace Yatawara, have won the women’s championship in the past two Labor Day Golf championships at Salisbury Country Club.
She also has run two marathons, six half-marathons and six triathlons.
For lack of a better description, Ed Dupree is an obsessive type. He has coached in some capacity for 35 years, whether it was the Faith Flyers running club he founded, youth basketball and baseball with his son’s teams or with Allison’s squads.
He has played in the same fantasy baseball leagues for more than 20 years. He golfs and runs way more than most people.
Dupree has played at 285 different N.C. golf courses through the years and roughly 325 total, he says.
If he makes it to June 23, Dupree adds, he will have run at least a mile a day without missing for 20 consecutive years.
Allison Adams’ teams have put a lot of hardware in the Erwin Middle School trophy case — 23 different trophies in 12 years.
Watson, who coached at East Rowan High for 19 years, says he has kept hoping Adams would be asked to take over a high school team some day.
“She has paid her dues,” Watson adds. “She has been successful her whole career and has earned the right.”
Meanwhile, Adams and her father keep on winning.
They employed the “Indiana” offense Monday night and turned back Knox Middle School.
During the game, Adams exhorted her team from various positions — hunkered down, standing and sitting next to her dad, who penciled in every shot, foul and turnover.
“I expect to win when I go out there,” Adams says. “There haven’t been many nights when I go home dissatisfied because we lost.”
Her dad’s stats back her up.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263,or firstname.lastname@example.org.