Gabbard looks to build solid foundation at Eminence

Brandon Gabbard was named the new Eminence boys varsity basketball coach. He is pictured with his wife, Laura, and two children, Russell and Millie.

Brandon Gabbard is no stranger to Eminence. He has served as an assistant coach with the Eminence boys basketball team for three years and currently teaches middle school social studies at Eminence Independent School. Now, he has taken the reins in his first high school head-coaching role.

Gabbard replaces Gary Tuell, who led the team for the past three seasons.

“I’m just real excited for the opportunity. I’ve coached a long time but I’ve never been a high school head coach and that’s always been a big goal of mine. So I’m just really excited,” said Gabbard.

Coaching has been part of Gabbard’s life since college. He volunteered to coach youth leagues in Lexington while studying education at Eastern Kentucky University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in middle grade education from EKU in 2000 and earned his Master of Arts in Education: Literacy from EKU in 2009.

Gabbard’s coaching and teaching careers have gone hand-in-hand. He began at Spencer County and coached for eight years before heading to Shelby County for seven years. Throughout his years leading teams, he has directed boys and girls middle school, boys junior varsity and boys freshman teams.

According to Gabbard, the differences between competition levels, from a coaching standpoint, is not as drastic as one may think.

“I think fundamentals of basketball are always the same, trying to get that good, strong fundamental base. As far as the Xs and Os, you have to be a little more detailed and a little more rigorous in high school, but if you can play good fundamental basketball, you know, you can throw the Xs and Os out. Do good fundamentals, I feel like you’re going to improve and have success,” said Gabbard.

The transition from assistant to head coach can be difficult for some coaches, but Gabbard’s familiarity with the school and its students has played to his advantage.

“It’s unique because I’ve been here three years so I already know the players, most of ‘em, and I’m familiar with the school and what’s going on here and I teach here. So I’m really just looking forward to getting going and trying to put my own spin on things,” said Gabbard. “It’s been really helpful.”

At the helm, Gabbard hopes to build a solid foundation for the program. To create his culture, he is focusing on summer basketball.

“The biggest thing I’m trying to get going is our summer basketball program. We’ve done a little bit in the summer, but with COVID and what not, it was not quite what I wanted it to be so getting us more involved in summer, playing games in the summer so we can improve in the offseason,” said Gabbard.

With a small school population and multi-sport athletes trying to divide their time amongst their chosen sports, summer practices and scrimmages are crucial to molding a team.

“The more we can kind of get done and get organized in June, I’m hoping pays off for us in November and December when we start,” said Gabbard.

The varsity and JV squads will play a couple games at Collins this summer, and Gabbard wants to get a few freshman games on the schedule as well.

“Right now, just trying to make this the normal. This is the standard. We do this in June and getting everybody on board and kind of developing our culture with the summer,” said Gabbard.

Gabbard will kick off his first season in November, but he is using the summer months to ready his team for competition and establish routines.

“We’re in here, we’re working hard this summer and we’re going to continue to work hard and try to build something here where we have a solid foundation. That’s what I really want to start with. Let’s get solid. Let’s get some standard things that we’re doing and go from there,” said Gabbard.