Role Models Shape Brian Field's Coaching Journey By Matt Bowling

Providence Day boys basketball coach Brian Field directs his players during a game. Photo courtesy of Brian Field.

Most members of the Providence Day community have heard of, if not personally met, Brian Field. The head coach of the varsity boys basketball team has received a great amount of publicity after leading them to their first state title since 1999 and a berth in the vaunted Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament. While being invited to play for a national championship after winning what named one of America’s five toughest state tournaments indicates a superior level of coaching, Field attributes his success not just to his own abilities but to those who helped shape his journey as a coach.

One of Brian Field’s earliest influences was his father, who played basketball at Georgia Tech and was, in his son’s words, “the best sports parent of all time.”

Brian Field, right, and his father during Field's college career. Photo courtesy of Brian Field.

“He never let me or my brother or my sister have an ego,” Field says. “It was always about team first, not individual first, and he instilled that in me.”

Another person who had a major impact on a young Field was former Providence Day athletic director Gil Murdock, who Field still calls one of his heroes.

"His compassion for other people always stood out for me." --Brian Field

“When I was in second grade, we had to write a paragraph on who we looked up to and what we wanted to be when we grew up,” he recalls. “I put that I wanted to be coach Murdock.”

“His compassion for other people always stood out for me. He cared more about the success of others than he did any personal gain, and I loved that.”

As a rising seventh grader at Providence Day in 1988, Field attended a basketball skill-building camp and began to fall in love with the game. He continued his playing career through the varsity level, where he played for NCHSAA Hall of Fame coach Dave Price, who guided the Chargers to two state championships in his 12 years with the team. During the summer, Field often assisted Price at basketball camps much like the ones he attended when he was younger. It was then that he began to embrace coaching as a potential career path.

Field was a good enough player to land a spot on the team at Division III Sewanee after graduating from Providence Day in 1994, but he made the decision to end his career after knee injuries considerably shortened his first two seasons. Rather than leave basketball for good, however, Field stayed with the Tigers as a student assistant, learning the game at the collegiate level while also working on his education degree. After graduating from Sewanee, Field landed his first job at UMS-Wright Preparatory School in Mobile, Alabama as an assistant to then-head coach Kemper Todd, whom he describes as an “absolutely amazing coach.”

"His detail in a practice was phenomenal." --Brian Field

“I learned a lot about how to organize a practice, [and] about the dedication and time that it took to run a program the right way,” Field says of his time in Mobile.

“[Todd] is one of the best practice coaches I’ve ever seen. His detail in a practice was phenomenal, and it showed me that as a coach you need to go in with a clear-cut plan for every day, have an idea of what you want to accomplish, and then work to get it done.”

Early in Field’s second year at UMS-Wright, his father passed away, and he began looking for a way back home to Charlotte, where his mother still lived. It was around that time that a history position opened at Providence Day, and soon Brian Field found himself back at his alma mater. The year was 2000, and the Chargers had just been denied a third straight state championship by Greensboro Day. Under then-head coach David Carrier (now at Westchester Country Day), Field worked as both the JV head coach and a varsity assistant coach. After the 2005-06 season, Carrier left the program, and Field was given his first, and so far only, head coaching job.

While Kemper Todd taught him some of the important technical aspects of coaching, Field credits David Carrier with teaching him about one of the most intangible yet most critical facets of it: connecting with players.

Brian Field discusses strategy with his team during the 2016 state championship game. Photo courtesy of Gordon Bynum.

“What defines coaching is the relationships that you make with your players and those around you,” Field says. “Coach Carrier really taught me’s not just about Xs and Os, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about hopefully having an impact on high school players’ lives.”

With lessons like these having been instilled in Brian Field from the time he was a boy, as well as an innate passion for teaching and coaching, it almost seems like a given that he would go on to lead some of the greatest teams Providence Day has ever seen. If you ask him about it, though, he won’t say much about himself. He’ll probably talk about his assistants, or his players, or go back to those who he says helped shape his career.

Team first, not individual. Just like his father taught him.

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