At some point in their lives, Gwinnett County's basketball coaches were actually basketball players. It may be hard for their players to believe, but they used to have game.
Some still do.
Collins Hill assistant boys coach Josh Chase can now boast that his skills are still sharper than most of his colleagues. Chase won the inaugural Shots from the Heart: Gwinnett Coaches Against Childhood Cancer free-throw fundraiser, a friendly yet competitive way for Gwinnett's coaches to bond and raise money for the Amanda Riley Foundation at the same time.
Chase, a 2007 Collins Hill grad, was an 85 percent free throw shooter as a high school player and was a three-year varsity player for the Eagles. He was nearly perfect in the final round, making 24 of 25 free throws, and it almost wasn't enough.
Parkview girls assistant Aaron Schuck also made 24 of 25, but Chase won a tiebreaker because he made 23 straight --he missed his second shot.
"I thought I had to hit them all really (to win)," said Chase, who has aspirations to be a varsity head coach. "I wasn't sure (24) was enough. When I didn't hear back for a little bit, I thought I might have lost."
Chase gets bragging rights for a year and a presentation at this year's Gwinnett Tipoff Club from Riley's family, whose foundation (amandarileyfoundation.org) supports families who have a child fighting cancer. Amanda Riley was a Brookwood athlete who passed away in 2010 from cancer.
Brookwood girls coach Scott Terry coached Riley and it was his idea for the free-throw competition, which was well-received by the county's coaches.
"It's always great to do something for a great cause," Chase said. "Something like this is nice to help out people in the community."
Chase also had a close battle in the semifinals against Mill Creek girls coach Ashley Phillips, one of the event's top shooters, and had to make 24 or 25 free throws each round to move on. Some coaches had easier road in the bracket. Not to name names or anything (Brad Hayes of Collins Hill).
"Oh man, he had it easy," Chase joked.
More than 40 coaches entered this year's event and paid a $25 entry free, bringing in more than $1,000 for the Rileys' foundation. The first year was such a success, it wouldn't be surprising for more coaches to join in the fun next year.
"It was a really good, fun competition," Chase said. "It brings coaches together for a great cause. I'm looking forward to next year."
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.