Strafford Summer league offers early experience to new college coaches

Sports

STRAFFORD, Mo. — This Summer, the new Strafford Sports Center is finally getting its chance to host the local college Pro-Am League.

“It’s two things,” Evangel Men’s Basketball Head Coach said. “First of all, it gives our guys a chance to play like those other guys get to play. But it also gives the fans a chance to see who’s going to be there and how the rosters have changed and who’s new.”

The four court facility was supposed to host the league last year, until the COVID-19 pandemic ended that plan.

“That’s the first time they’ve played in front of fans in a year,” Drury Men’s Basketball Head Coach Chris Foster said. “I’m sure they’re really enjoying it too. It’s great to be getting back to a little bit of normal.”

For first year Head Coach Capel, it brings back memories of playing in the league himself for Evangel at The Courts in Springfield.

“You know, I miss that,” Capel said. “I played at The Courts and then I coached there a little bit with Coach Jenkins back in the day.”

Now experiencing it for the first time as a head coach, it provides some much needed early experience in the role.

“It’s been fun,” Capel said. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind a little bit. Just finished up camps last week. That’s always kind of a big thing. But I’m excited.”

Though it helps when you have the program’s legendary coach in Steve Jenkins still by your side.

“I told him I want him to be around and he wants to be around the guys,” Capel said. “You know, it’s tough when you’ve been doing something for so long – as long as he has. He needs to be around the guys. He helps me a lot with scheduling, recruiting, telling me what I should and shouldn’t do with the guys.”

But Jenkins isn’t alone alongside Capel.

A little further down the sideline you’ll find a fellow first year head coach in Drury’s Chris Foster.

“Yeah, it’s huge,” Foster said. “I think especially this first year getting to come out here and learn them a little bit more. I think it’s even more important to them. They get to spend some time together. They get to play together. It kind of allows you to fast track a little bit when you get to into the fall because there’s some familiarity there that normally wouldn’t be if there wasn’t something like this for them to play in.”

Both first year head coaches, both taking over for program legends and both now on the same court.

“I’ve met him,” Foster said about Capel. “We’ve talked just briefly. I know Coach Fisher, one of our assistants, knows him a little bit. It’s really unique in Springfield with Evangel and Missouri State.”

“You know, you’re looking at everybody and seeing who they got and it’s been fun,” Capel said.

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