By Angel Verdejo
The Cove Herald
Most, if not all, head coaches use trust as a big determining factor in picking assistants.
So why not pick the person you trust most?
Like your significant other.
That's what Copperas Cove head girls basketball coach Richard Herbst did two years ago.
His wife, Michele, started her Bulldawg career as a sub-varsity coach after the two came to Cove from Boerne. There, Michele had first coached daughters Becca and Jessica in junior high while Richard, a long-time boys coach who switched to girls to spend more time with his family, led the Lady Greyhounds to a 220-60 record over eight seasons and had the chance to coach both daughters.
"Then when we came here, I was his freshman coach the first year," Michele said. "Then when coach (Marsha) Hammond left, he said, 'Okay, how about it?'"
Having worked in the same programs for a number of years, as well as simply helping each other, Michele said there wasn't any hesitation about the move.
"All during my career she's been involved," said Richard, who's also had coaching stops at Mary Hardin-Baylor (men), Schreiner (men and women), Colorado State (men's assistant), Rogers High School and Austwell-Tivoli High School.
"For me, it's just really enjoyable because I get to be around her and do all the things to I want to do, and she gets to experience all that."
Their husband-wife relationship isn't meant to be a big secret on the court, but the two don't broadcast it either. Most opponents who haven't faced the Lady Dawgs before don't even know.
"I think it's not until they do the introductions at the beginning," Michele said. "Every once in a while you'll hear the announcer go, 'Oh, well okay.' And you'll see they're a little surprised by that."
Those interactions are also noticed by their own players.
"They work really good together," junior Jasmine Baskin said. "You can't tell. They don't bring it on the court. They don't bring husband and wife (stuff) on the court. They're just coaches."
Being able to separate personal and professional lives is a challenge Richard and Michele both said they feel they've done a good job tackling. Basketball is discussed off the court, of course, but for the most part, Michele said, it's kept in perspective or in some cases, forgotten about.
"He'll say something on the bench during a game and later, I'll ask, 'what did you mean by that?'" she said. "And he's probably forgotten it already. So I can't be hurt by that because he doesn't even remember that he told me to do something."
Said Richard: "We've really tried to do a pretty good job of separating the two. Once it goes home, that's home, and once it's goes basketball, that's basketball."
But what's helped the two strengthen their coaching relationship is taking a page from "relationship" experts.
"She knows me and knows all my weaknesses," Richard said.
According to Michele, her husband is "the basketball mind behind everything and he just sees everything."
She said while she can see details here and there, Richard sees the entire picture.
"So I have to help in other ways," Michele said.
That includes communication, an area Richard admitted isn't a strong suit with him. If he's trying to explain something to a player and the message isn't conveyed clearly, Michele normally "translates" for the players.
The two also play off each other's emotions, balancing the other when one is upset during a workout or goofing off.
"You're always looking for an assistant that you can trust and we have that situation," Richard said. "I don't have to say, 'okay, your turn to be the bad cop.' She recognizes when it happens, and that makes things so much easier."
Contact Angel Verdejo at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7564.