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Twitter/IG: @RyanHawk12  https://twitter.com/RyanHawk12

Brook Cupps is a leadership teacher and the coach of the Centerville High School basketball team. In 2021, he led his team to the first state championship in school history. He is best known as a leader who truly lives his core values. They are: Tough, Passionate, Unified, & Thankful.


  • Brook’s personal mantras:
    • Wolf – Wolves travel in packs. They are not good by themselves. They need the pack. BC needs people around him. Loves teams. “Wolves are more badass than lions or tigers. You don’t see a wolf in a circus.”
    • Chop Wood – “I’ve never viewed myself as talented, but I’m willing to work. We say chop chop. When things are going well, get to work. When things are bad, get to work. The connection is always back to work.”
    • The Man In The Arena – “I had to develop this over time. The critics used to bother me and I would listen to them. It affected my confidence. I learned that the most important opinions are the people in the arena with me.” Brene Brown – “A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”
  • Purpose – “My purpose is to inspire others to strive for excellence over success.”
  • Self awareness leads to self confidence – Know who you are. Be comfortable with who you are. “You can’t be tough alone. You need others.”
  • Foxhole Friends – It takes time to build foxhole friend relationships. “With my foxhole friends, I can be completely open. They tell me the truth. They have the freedom to criticize me.”
  • Coach Z — Dave Zeller. “He never won a District. He’s the best coach I’ve ever been around. A state championship isn’t success. It’s the impact you have on the kids because nobody’s going to tell me that those guys that won state championships are better coaches than Z was.”
  • Core Values: Values become real when you define the behaviors that exemplify the value…
    • Tough – Positive body language leads you to be fight ready
    • Passionate – Choosing extra work leads you to steal inches
    • Unified – Speaking and acting with urgency leads you to not flinching in big moments
    • Thankful – Showing love for one another through touches (help someone off the floor, give them a five after they make a mistake)
  • Unified —  You must speak and act with urgency. “If you choose to remain silent when someone has done something wrong, then that is selfish.” Choosing the easier path of not saying anything is selfish. The selfless act is having the guts to speak up when it’s needed.
  • Patch Adams – “Indifference is the greatest disease of all.”
  • You need to stand for something or you stand for nothing…
  • “Your behaviors are the crux to your values.” Do your behaviors match the values you claim to be yours?
  • Gabe Cupps (Brook’s son) entered the conversation for a few minutes…
    • Gabe sent a text to each player on the team before tournament games that simply said, “We’re gonna win.”
    • Where does that confidence come from? “It’s the work put in leading up to the big moments.”
    • Gabe originally tried out for the North Coast Blue Chips AAU team… The same team that Bronny James (LeBron James Jr) played on… During a break in the action, he asked Bronny to play 1 on 1… “I didn’t know how good I was. I wanted to see.”
    • Gabe earned their respect and made the team… Later LeBron noticed Brook’s coaching ability when he was helping out at practice and determined he was the best coach to lead the team moving forward.
    • LeBron’s superpower as a leader is “gassing up his guys.” He has the ability to create more belief in others through his belief in them. A critical leadership action where LeBron excels…
  • What did Brook and Gabe say to each other during their long embrace after winning the state championship? “I just told him how much I loved him.”
  • Goal setting process — Brook does not set results oriented goals. He sets process oriented goals. They had no goals to win their conference, or regionals, or the state championship (they won all of those this year). Their goal for this season was:
    • Attack every opportunity with purpose
    • Process based versus Results based? In the world of coaching basketball, there is a clear scoreboard. You have a record. If you lose too many games, you get fired. How does Brook manage that? “If I have a group of guys that are tough, passionate, unified, and thankful… And they attack every opportunity with purpose, we’ll probably be pretty good and win a lot. The results usually take care of themselves.”
  • Honoring those who have come before you: “Drink the water, but remember who dug the well.”
  • Will you take a charge?
    • This is what he looks for in a teammate. Someone who looks for opportunities to sacrifice for the team.
    • There is a physical sacrifice. “It’s gonna hurt. It’s an unselfish act to take a charge.”
    • “To be all in, you need to take charges.”
  • High Standards – There was a moment in a game earlier in the season when Centerville was winning 60-24 in the third quarter. Brook’s team started playing a little sloppy. Turned the ball over a few times. It was uncharacteristic of their usual play. Brook called a time out and yelled at his team. It was obvious they were going to win (by a lot), but that moment showed me that Brook holds his team to higher standards and won’t allow them to lower even when the opponent isn’t posing a challenge…
    • “You get what you accept. That’s my standard. If I ignore that, then I’m not living to my values, and that’s not ok with me.”
  • Creating your values — “I think as the leader, they need to be your values.”
    • “If you go to work for someone else, you need to be bought into their values. If you’re not, then you probably shouldn’t work there.”
    • When interviewing for a job to work for a leader, ask them: “What are your values and how do you live them?
  • I noticed after big wins that Brook doesn’t join in the pictures with his players… Why?
    • “That’s their moment. It’s about them. I love watching them enjoy those moments.”
  • Common traits of foxhole friends: “They may not communicate them the same way I do, but we have a shared appreciation for our values.”
  • It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” — Teddy Roosevelt

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