Soldiers To Sidelines is proud to honor U.S. Navy Veteran Dontele Pinder as Soldier Coach of the Month September 2023. Coach Pinder served 11 years in the Navy as a hospital corpsman and now serves his country as a Varsity Assistant Girls Basketball Coach, Head Boys Basketball Coach for a 16U AAU Basketball Team, and as Assistant Athletic Director for his AAU league.
He caught the coaching bug when his daughter implored him to coach her basketball team. Often coaches begin their coaching journey for their own children, only to realize their purpose to positively affect many other young athletes. Dontele has always answered the call to serve, and now he is serving his community as a basketball coach on several levels. His impact creates a ripple effect far and wide. He is committed to constant improvement, and it shows in his engagement with STS and his community. Below, Coach Pinder reflects on his experience as a coach.
STS: Tell your story about how and why you go into coaching. Discuss how coaching has impacted you as a person.
Coach Pinder: My daughter looked at me and she said dad you can you coach my basketball team? At the time I had only coached boys’ basketball, and I was wondering if I could really do it. My daughter persisted that she believed in me. I wanted to be part of her basketball story as I knew how much basketball meant to me when I was younger and played. So, I agreed that I would reach out to her school to see if I could get a coaching position. I reached out and they had an opening for an assistant JV coach. The rest is history from there. Today I am the girl’s assistant varsity coach.
Coaching had a huge impact on my life. Coaching made me so happy. It made me feel fulfilled that I was able to give back to the community and help youth connect to their purpose and possibly a way to make it in life. It filled a void that was left after leaving the military. I felt like it was giving me purpose in life again.
STS: How has your military experience influenced you as a coach?
Coach Pinder: My military experience provided the blueprint for structure, discipline, and motivation that I would later incorporate into my basketball programs.
STS: How has Soldiers To Sidelines impacted your life?
Coach Pinder: Soldiers To Sidelines (STS) has helped me become a better coach. I have gained so much knowledge and confidence due to the training I received from STS. The seminar and training have been top notch. I have been able to integrate the trainings with my youth and improve their basketball IQ and development.
STS: Describe a coaching interaction with a player, or group of players, that has a special place in your heart?
Coach Pinder: I started when my daughter was a freshman, and I was able to see that entire cycle through all the way to their varsity year. Those young ladies and those yearly seasons hold a special place in my heart because I was able to see their growth as directly affected by my coaching and their hard work. As a result, I was able to help one of my senior players get recruited to the next level.
STS: What are your aspirations in coaching?
Coach Pinder: My aspiration is to become a Head Coach for a college team. I want to help student-athletes to live out the dreams to become college players while receiving their education.
STS: What was the most difficult challenge you have experienced in coaching and what have you learned from that experience?
Coach Pinder: The most challenging part of coaching for me is development. Many of our players come from programs where fundamentals are not high priority. Once we identify this problem, we deployed resource to correct the challenges.