10 Questions: Matt King

Posted By on January 28, 2021
Matt King

Executive director of the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association

  1. Tell us about yourself. Do you have a background in basketball?

I walked on as a basketball player at the University of New Mexico. I was a three-time all-state player in high school but was a Division II basketball player masquerading on a Division I team. My passion, even while I was playing, was to be a coach. I was a high school coach for 12 years — eight in New Mexico and four at Sandra Day O’Connor High School in North Phoenix.

  • How did you start working with the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association?

The ABCA has been around a lot longer than I have been involved. About five years ago, I was coaching and, though the organization had dissolved, two of my colleagues, Todd Fazio and Mark Wood, called and asked if we could get together to chat. During that conversation, we decided that simply out of a desire to solve some basic problems for coaches in our state, we could try to revive the organization. We never expected or planned for it to get where it is today.

  • How does the organization serve the community? 

We do a variety of things, but all of them fall into three buckets. Coach development, where we work to provide platforms that help develop coaches. Youth development, where we provide affordable and safe places for youth basketball to grow in our communities. And elite development, where we provide events where the best of the best can have a platform to be seen and gain exposure to play at the collegiate or even the professional level potentially. We serve about 10,000 kids per year.

  • How does ABCA help coaches, and why is this help so critical? 

We believe that putting a good coach with every kid that picks up a basketball in Arizona might be one of the most critical things we can do. A good coach in a community impacts lives in ways that almost no one else can. We exist to help make good coaches’ lives easier.

  • Partnerships are key to making this work. Tell us how you’re working with local organizations. 

For us to survive, we must partner with like-minded organizations like BHHS Legacy Foundation, the Police Activities League, and the Boys & Girls Clubs. The ABCA is an organization of organizations and at our core is a desire for every organization that provides basketball programming to be successful. We are not the heroes; every coach in every organization in Arizona is the hero. We want to come alongside them and the organizations they are coaching and try to make the environments they operate in as productive as possible.

  • What are some of the biggest challenges you face? 

Bad coaches. When I say bad coaches, I mean people doing things to get something from a kid rather than doing things to give something to a kid. Our goal is to make the Arizona environment incredibly appealing for good people to work with kids and terribly difficult for bad people to be around kids.

  • How can basketball help kids? 

Basketball is a permission slip for connection, and connection always helps kids. Connection to others, opportunity, education and healthy lifestyles are just some of the things that this little ball can provide.

  • How has the pandemic affected young players?

During this last year, it has become so evident how important activity is for kids. The ability for them to connect with others is vital from a physical and mental-health standpoint.

  • What has ABCA been doing during these days of COVID? 

We have done various things to try to stay engaged and promote a healthy and safe environment. We have provided dozens of virtual clinics. Right now, our biggest priority is our work in the Maryvale community alongside BHHS Legacy Foundation, the Police Activities League, and the Boys & Girls Clubs. We have done a clinic for kids at the Jerry Colangelo Boys & Girls Club and are preparing to give away 5,000 brand-new basketballs in a program partnering with the Phoenix Jr. Suns to mentor kids in the community.

  1. What are your goals for ABCA?

Our goal is straightforward. We won’t stop until there is a good coach with every kid that plays the game in the state of Arizona. We invite people to follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @azbballcoaches.

To learn more, go to azbasketballcoaches.com.

About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.