Callaway’s full-court press on life paces Mundy’s Mill success on court and in classroom

Dec 05 2018 Top Story  Basketball  Features 

By: Rob Grubbs — sportalspace contributor

IMG_3967.jpg

The phrase “32 Minutes of Havoc” is not a gimmick or fancy motto for tee-shirts, it is a way of life for Mundy’s Mill Head Basketball Coach Dwight Callaway. Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas during the heyday of Razorback Head Coach Nolan Richardson’s career made lasting impressions in all facets of Callaway’s life and coaching style. When you spend time around him, his infectious personality jumps out and grabs your attention. Although the phrase in its basic form means full court pressure defense for all 32 minutes of a high school basketball game, to Callaway and his Mundy’s Mill Tigers, it is so much more.

Now in his third season at the school, Callaway has a deep and talented roster that plays his style up and down the court. The Tigers have star power in seniors Rayquan Brown and Jordan Black and junior Jalen Thrash, but the story is much richer than just wins on the court. It is about a man who took over an up-and-down program with a vision and plan to execute. While X’s and Os’ are important on game day, more important is the attitude that Callaway instills into his young men that goes beyond basketball.

Whatever it Takes Philosophy

While he is a coach, he is an educator first, he teaches Advanced Placement classes, the highest-level Mundy’s Mill offer, in Psychology and Government and he is also Gifted certified. He pushes his players to take those classes because there is a direct correlation between academic success and athletic success.

During the season, he wears multiple hats, he often DJs games played before his game starts, he washes uniforms, films the 9th grade boys’ game and constantly promotes Mundy’s Mill basketball. He currently has a full program, including the varsity, junior varsity and ninth grade teams, along with a coaching staff that he mentors. Last Thursday night he was in the top row filming and encouraging the ninth-grade team while coaching at the same time. “They recognize my voice even from up here,” he mentions as he offers encouragement to the point guard who nods back at him. Minutes later, one of his game day assistants comes to him with an issue about a fan who didn’t want to pay to enter the game. The challenges never stop, and Callaway would have it no other way.

A Man and His Families  

While coaching takes up a lot of time and the team becomes an extended family, Callaway has a homelife to be envious of. He lives only minutes from the school and spends a lot of time at the gym, especially in season, but he also has a family and his face brightens when he talks about his wife, Martina and their two daughters, Layla and Calliope. They met while both were teaching at Riverdale High School and then were reintroduced while at Lovejoy.

Of his wife, Callaway shared, “She where I get a lot of my foundation from. She is my backbone. She comes to all the games, she loves the kids, she backs what I do and supports it, which makes it easier for me to do what I do. She helps me be a smarter and better person.” She was even at the game Friday night with a fractured foot, there to cheer for her husband and her team, “She is my biggest fan,” is how Callaway summed it up.

His daughters are also athletes, Layla a softball player at MD Roberts Middle School and Calliope a soccer player. They enjoy competition, it is their family thing.

Leadership by Example

“I am basically just a Coach Carter here at Mundy’s Mill,” Callaway said, in reference to the movie character played Samuel L. Jackson. Coach Carter got the most of his basketball players by expecting more from them than just being basketball players. A key principle in leadership is to set a high level of expectation, create an environment where that level can be attained and then let the players excel in that environment.

In Clayton County, he has coached track (he won two region titles at Lovejoy High School), swimming and softball in addition to basketball. Always looking for an edge, he coached Cross Country this fall and encouraged his basketball players to join.  “I think playing good defense is contagious, I think we score a lot of points of defense and transition and you got to be in shape to do that. Cross Country helped our guys get a jump start on conditioning that we needed.”

When asked what his initial vision for success included, he offered, “The first step was to get academically sound. Make sure they were going to class, make sure they were respectful. We wanted them to be leaders. Then we moved to skill development on the court. That gave us the foundation that we are building from today.”

Star Power Doesn’t Hurt

In Callaway’s first season, he had two sophomores that he knew had a chance to be special. Rayquan Brown and Jordan Black played a lot during that initial season and suffered growing pains but are grown up now for their senior season. Callaway calls them “Our dynamic duo, they have bought into our system early.”

Georgia High School basketball expert Kyle Sandy and renowned author at Sandysspiel.com says of the two, “Jordan really picked up a lot of steam this summer and saw his recruitment pick up. He’s a 6-7 combo forward that’s comfortable playing on the wing and attacking off the bounce. He’s grown his game a ton and has his best basketball ahead of him. Rayquan is one of my favorite sleeper prospects in the state of Georgia. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a 6-5 wing as bouncy as he is. I’m shocked that he doesn’t have a handful of offers already in hand. He can score at all three levels and his long wiry frame makes him an ideal candidate to impact games on both sides of the ball. Most notably, his shot blocking prowess is elite for his position. He will be a great get late in the recruiting process.”

Callaway credited the duo for helping advance the program, “They are both ranked in the top 100 players in the state and they help sell the program, everyone is watching them to see how they develop.”

Their play has increased expectations this year, the coach said of the season, “Our goal is to win 20 games (they are already off to a 5-1 start), get to the state playoffs, and continue to bust our tails and do what we have to do to maintain a level where they can go to the next level and play.”

Building a Brand

A buzz phrase in today’s business world is “building your brand,” it is identifying who you are, why you do what you do and the go out and do it. Large corporations with huge marketing budgets spend millions in defining their brand. At Mundy’s Mill, like all schools in the county where resources are tight, the brand has been built with the sweat equity of the coach, cooperation and buy in from school leadership and young men who are up for the challenge.

The high school students of today are going to be our leaders tomorrow, and we all are going to benefit from the work that coaches like Callaway have invested in the young men in his program. You eventually come to the realization that we all need to pick up a little bit of the “32 Minutes of Havoc” philosophy and apply it to our own lives. We were built and designed to excel, not just exist. It all starts with expectations, so let’s set the bar high, adopt the whatever it takes mentality and see how this improves our quality of life and those around us. That is the essence of what Coach Callaway believes and he has the results to back it up.