By Thomas Sellers Jr.
There are a few new faces involved with Millington Trojans Athletics coming into the 2016-17 school year.
One of those new coaches will be Jewell Gates. Although he will be the leader of the boys’ basketball team, he can be seen inspiring the likes of football players, baseball players, volleyball athletes and cheerleaders as well.
“I have to be in a great interaction with every sport and program in this school,” Gates said. “That’s football with Coach Michaels, baseball with Coach Adams, and with soccer and volleyball with the new coaches we just hired. I’m going to be in close interaction with those programs.”
But Gates knows his first priority in athletics is guiding the Trojans on the hardwood. With a new floor under their feet, Millington Basketball players have been getting to know their new coach.
“They have seem to have bought in,” he said. “There will always be anxiety with change. I’m a different guy from what they had before. I will be very demanding and that’s a little bit different for them.
“I’m trying to convince them if you stick to what we’re doing, working your behind off every single day, buy into what I’m telling you, we will get the end result,” Gates continued. “The end results will be competing to the best of our abilities every night. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re win 25 games. But that means everybody we play will know we were on the court with them. That’s important to me.”
Gates is known across the Shelby-Metro area from his days as a middle school head coach and lead assistant in high school. His coaching career started at Munford Middle School. Then after 5 years at Brighton, Gates into Shelby County to join the coaching staff of the newly formed Southwind Jaguars.
Gates helped built the new school into a powerhouse and to a State Tournament level. Players from the Jaguars like Jonathan Williams III (Gonzaga), JaJuan Johnson (Marquette), Payton Husley (College of Charleston) and Deckie Johnson (North Texas) are current Division I players.
“I’m going to pull all that — the Southwind tradition,” Gates said. “They hear it all the time. Everyday I bring up a Southwind story. They heard one this morning. The reason why they hear those stories all the time because it’s about how you go from starting off a program from nothing to a State championship level. We got national recognition and put guys into college.”
Southwind became a part of the basketball crazy Memphis fabric. Up the road in Millington and Tipton County, the sporting culture leans toward football and baseball.
“To me there’s not a difference,” Gates said. “I know that, I’m from this area. If I had been in Memphis my entire life then come out here, it would be a different story. I know basketball is kind of third. I know that, but we’re going to do it the right way, be successful and win basketball games. I think that will put people in that gym — a good product.”
Gates, a Munford product, said he understands coaches have to support all athletics on a campus even if that means him wearing a black and gold T-Shirt at this year’s M&M Bowl in Tipton County.
The new Trojan Basketball leader said he knows his peers will be there to encourage his players as well. And he wants to make sure they see a quality product on the floor.
“When you see a Coach Gates team, you’re going to see a team that plays as hard as it can, for as long as they can,” he said. “And they will also be a group that fights. That’s all I’m expecting. We’ve got to play and be tough. They hear about that all day — the mental toughness along with the physical toughness. I’m preaching that day in and day out.
“Three things that will be a Coach Gates team, hard work, determination and a mindset,” Gates concluded. “Those are the three things that I carried with me. If we do those three things, the results will come.”