Dickinson: MHS will put the ‘student’ back in ‘student athlete’

After several players showed failing grades on midterm progress reports, Montevallo High School boys head basketball coach Gregory Dickinson said he drew the line, pulling the players from the lineup for their next game, which so happened to be against county rival Calera. He used one starter and several reserve players to pull off an improbable win. (Contributed/Amy Pintaro)

After several players showed failing grades on midterm progress reports, Montevallo High School boys head basketball coach Gregory Dickinson said he drew the line, pulling the players from the lineup for their next game, which so happened to be against county rival Calera. He used one starter and several reserve players to pull off an improbable win. (Contributed/Amy Pintaro)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

MONTEVALLO — When several of his star players brought their progress reports to him in mid-November, Montevallo High head basketball coach Gregory Dickinson didn’t like what he saw.

Several players on his squad brought subpar grade reports, including quite a few who were failing in multiple classes.

“When I got the reports (I saw) a lot of ‘F’s,” he said. “It blew my mind what I witnessed. With that, they went into a study hall.”

Dickinson said he drew the line, pulling the players from the lineup for their next game, which so happened to be against county rival Calera.

It was a tough decision, Dickinson said. The rivalry has been one-sided in favor of Calera in recent years, and Dickinson said he felt like he had a team that could finally give the Eagles a good fight.

“They haven’t beaten Calera years,” he said. “I went back and forth on it.”

Ultimately, he said he decided to stick by his decision.

“The Calera game, they had to sit on the bench,” he said. “They had to dress up like business men while sitting on the bench during our game. Everybody on the JV or varsity team had to do all their missing assignments in their classroom on the bench during the game.”

With the lineup decimated due to the punishments, Dickinson had to look elsewhere for players. With only one starter able to play, the Bulldogs had to rely on non-starters and even pulled up two junior varsity players to fill out the roster.

“Our JV team normally has 15 guys but only six played that game,” he said. “Varsity normally has 14 but only five dressed out, and I moved two JV freshman kids up to make seven (on the varsity). Only one guy that played that had varsity playing experience. The other four were just role-players.”

In addition to having to sit, the players were made to write a three-page paper on the importance of education, Dickinson said.

With only seven players, the Dawgs came out and stunned the Eagles, taking a 65-59 win. Dickinson said he felt the players understood the importance of putting priority on grades.

“They’re students first, and I think they got that twisted,” he said. “My main thing is to let them know education is way more important. I’m a competitor, but at the end of the day, (this) is better in the long run.”