Emmett Rouse, 39, is in his first year as head basketball coach at South Gwinnett. Rouse has been a basketball coach in Georgia for 16 years, coaching at his alma mater Josey High in Augusta and Southwest Macon before coming to Snellville. He played college basketball at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga.
In this installment of "Getting to Know..." staff writer Ben Beitzel talks to Rouse about choosing coaching at his alma mater, high school athletes focusing on one sport and if he could beat his wife in a game of one-on-one.
BB: How did you get involved in coaching basketball?
ER: I got into coaching because of my high school coach. When I came back home (after college) he asked me to be an assistant coach one year and the bug bit me and I wanted to give back. I wanted the players to know the things that I didn't know when I was in high school.
BB: Why make the move to South Gwinnett?
ER: A friend of mine told me that the coach has resigned in the middle of the year last year. The year he was hired, I was going to apply but I felt like they had won a state championship so they were probably going to keep a coach from within so I didn't apply for it. When I heard that he had resigned in the middle of the year, I just felt like it was a AAAAA school, Atlanta, I wanted to prove that I could coach on that level.
BB: You were a center in high school and a small forward in college. What position was more fun to play?
ER: Small forward, because you can handle the ball and you can shoot. You get to get on the wing and post up. It's just more fun.
BB: You're a pretty big guy, I bet you were a physical player.
ER: I was a very physical player. I was like Anthony Mason. My thing was banging and pushing and shoving.
BB: Your wife played basketball at Brewton-Parker, too. Who was better?
ER: She probably was. She was more of a transitional player. She ran the wing. She averaged 28 a game. I only averaged 24 so...
BB: If I was there to keep you from knocking her down, who would win if you two played?
ER: She would win. She was a better shooter. Not now. She hasn't been playing in a while.
BB: Is basketball the only sport you ever played?
ER: I played football. I was a defensive end and outside linebacker. I was recruited more in football than I was in basketball.
BB: Why did you choose basketball then?
ER: A love for it. I just enjoyed the game of basketball more than I did football.
BB: You've got to be the only Georgia guy to ever pick basketball over football.
ER: You know, it probably would be kind of odd, but I got more gratitude out of basketball. Football came more natural to me cause, like I said, I was aggressive so it was just like having fun out there. Basketball, I didn't know off-hand, so I had to work hard to get it. I practiced more at it. I worked at it. The more I worked at it, the better I got and that bug caught me and I just wanted to get better every time I got on the court.
BB: What's it like coaching at the school you went to?
ER: It's almost like a dream. You still have all the guys that you knew when you played and their family and friends. The teachers that taught you, you are back working with them. It is almost like a dream.
BB: What's your least favorite part of coaching? Recruiting? Players switching schools?
ER: I really didn't have to deal with (the kids switching schools) as much until I got here ... It probably would be the recruiting and the players playing at other schools. You get one school and they might have five people from somebody else's school. I have heard of one or two kids transferring in a district in a year, but (some schools) have seven people on your roster from somebody else's school and Georgia High School (Association) wants to say that we don't have recruiting. That is kind of strange. But my least favorite thing is trying to satisfy everybody. When you have 15 guys on a team everybody can't play the amount of minutes they want to play and everybody's mom and dad wants them to. ... I am a parent. I can understand that I want my son to do good. I want my son to play. As a coach I understand that my son isn't working as hard as that kid or he is not on that same level yet.
BB: Are you a lifelong coach? Is college coaching a goal or a consideration?
ER: College would be an option. Right now, I haven't been thinking about it. Right now, I am so geared into getting the team that I have now to be successful. ... College would be an option. I have turned down a couple of college jobs ... when I was at Josey because I felt like I didn't want to move. But now that I have been to two other schools it is like just a challenge. Something else. College would be an option.
BB: What makes Atlanta stand out from the rest of Georgia? Is it the weirdest part?
ER: I don't think it is the weirdest part. But basketball-wise, if you are from Georgia and you go further down south and other areas they don't care about basketball. All they are worried about is the football program. ... I enjoyed the Augusta area and the Atlanta area because it is geared to every sport. It is not geared to where football has to succeed and they don't care about the other sports. It's more diverse. We want a good football, we want a good basketball, we want a good baseball team, we want a good track team.
BB: Does football get too much attention from fans and parents and the media? Can it wear on you as a basketball coach?
ER: No. Because I played. No. If I had never played it probably would (wear on me). But because I played football, basketball, track, tennis and I even tried soccer because the coach made us play. We ran cross country because the coach made us. ... Honestly it made me a better player because I played football. It made me rougher. I preferred to play football and to play basketball.
BB: Should kids today play more than one sport? It seems like they focus, earlier and earlier, on just one sport.
ER: For me that is sad. If you talk to a college coach right now, they are going to pick an athlete over somebody who prefers one sport because he is an athlete, he can do a little bit of it all. Look at the guys in the pros. They might have been a quarterback and they converted to a cornerback or a wide receiver. But he played football, he played basketball, he played baseball. They know he is an athlete so he can make that transition. I encourage my kids to play every sport if they can.