By Gary Lloyd
It’s a rare thing for a high school to have a coach in his late 60s or younger than 30.
Hewitt-Trussville has both.
First-year varsity boys basketball coach Mike Dutton is 68. Second-year varsity girls basketball coach Stu Stuedeman is 28.
Their coaching styles are as different as their tastes in music — though both appreciate Frank Sinatra — as unalike as Dutton’s plain white Nike shoes and Stuedeman’s bright yellow pair.
Dutton runs a disciplined practice with ample stretching time, leading Stuedeman to peg his players as “soldiers.” Stuedeman’s practices are loose, though he does require shirttails to be tucked in.
“I admire that so much, because I could never do that,” Stuedeman said of Dutton’s practices. “I think he’s doing a great service to these kids.”
Dutton said he has a “great relationship” with Stuedeman.
“Our philosophies are different, the way we go about things,” Dutton said. “He couldn’t do things like I could, I couldn’t do things like he could.”
Stuedeman wants to impress more experienced colleagues by running all types of technical offenses, to show that he is worthy. Then, he watches Dutton’s team run its fast break offense, a blink-and-you-missed-it style, a template Dutton has followed for years.
“It’s unbelievable,” Stuedeman said.
Growing up, Dutton emulated Boston Celtics great Bob Cousy, a guard who could pass, handle and score. Cousy retired from basketball more than two decades before Stuedeman was born. Stuedeman’s favorite player growing up was Squeaky Johnson, a point guard at UAB from 2003 to 2006.
Dutton credits his basketball success to four people: former Banks High School coach Albert Morton; junior college coach Willard Tate; former Montevallo coach Leon Davis; and former Lewis M. Smith Elementary School Principal Bill Anderson, who gave him his first job. Stuedeman credits several: his sisters Les Stuedeman and Vann Stuedeman, who are head softball coaches at the University of Alabama-Huntsville and Mississippi State University, respectively; Vestavia Hills boys basketball coach George Hatchett; University of Alabama-Huntsville coach Lennie Acuff; and former Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried.
Despite contrasting philosophies, the coaches share a high level of passion for the game. Dutton said he likes people who do things they’re passionate about.
“It’s obvious with Coach Stu here, how much he loves it,” Dutton said. “He’s dedicated to those girls and they’re improving like crazy.”
Dutton said Stuedeman has all the qualities a young coach should have, qualities that fire him up for the 2013-2014 season, which begins Thursday for the girls and next week for the boys.
Stuedeman said Dutton is the “epitome of the way to be,” a relentless worker who takes the road less traveled.
“His passion is unbelievable,” Stuedeman said. “He talks about my passion. I see his passion and it’s unbelievable. He’s always trying to learn. He goes to clinics and he works. It encourages me because I see him and I see I’m not going to lose this passion because I love to do it. He hasn’t lost it, and he’s 68.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.