Blanding
Blanding
Coach's Corner is a weekly 'Q' and 'A' featuring the coaches of Hamilton County high schools. This week's volunteer is University varsity girls basketball head coach Justin Blanding.

Q: You were an assistant coach on several University boys team who won sectional championships before you became the head coach of the girls program? What was the feeling like to win a sectional championship this year as a head coach as opposed to an assistant?

A: I was with the boys program from 2010-15. I became the girls coach in 2015. Winning a sectional as a head coach was the biggest accomplishment on my career to date. It was fun and gratifying as an assistant, but nothing is better than winning one as a head coach.

Q: What made you feel you were ready to take that next step from being an assistant to running your own team? What aspect of being a head coach is more difficult than you expected?

A: I was ready for a very long time, but not being from Indiana I didn't truly understand how much you have to pay your dues. I had to start from middle school and work my way up year after year. You have to earn respect here and prove you belong. I come from a coaching family so I was around head coaches in my family all my life, and I knew at an early age this was what I wanted to do. The most difficult thing for me as a head coach is probably knowing when to back off and give the kids a break. Sometimes we, as head coaches, can give a little and ease up at times. Not too much though. Coaching is all I have ever known so not a lot is difficult, but I am always learning daily.

Q: What is some advice that you'd would give to aspiring coaches?

A: I would advise them to not give up. There are going to be bumps in the road, but if you truly want it, you have to just keep proving yourself. I have been told "no" by so many schools I can't even count. You also have to stay humble and listen to people who are trying to help you, and always give maximum effort in everything you do from practice, games, film, anything just give it everything you have.

Q: How do high school coaches spend their offseason? How soon do you start prepping for next season?

A: I would say we are always planning. There really is no offseason for us. For me, I had our spring/summer planned out in late December. We got eliminated from the regional last week so some of our kids will start working out next week doing light workouts and getting shots up. In the spring, we will have individual workouts, and position workouts during the week. In June, we will have open gyms and play in a couple of shootouts max. We mainly want to focus on fundamental skill work and enhance their skill sets the best we can.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?

A: I would say speed like The Flash. I am an urgent guy so the faster I can get things done the better. I would also use the superpower to shoot down to the beaches in Florida faster. This weather is killing me.

Q: If you could play or coach one game in any professional athletic arena, which one would you want to experience?

A: Well I can't play a lick anymore so I would love to coach Duke against UNC in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Competing at a level like that would be amazing — two prestigious programs going at it is always fun. I cannot stand UNC but respect them. I would also love to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Ravens, but if I was the Steelers coach I wouldn't go for two so much like Coach (Mike) Tomlin. But he's still the man.