Trust The Process.
There were a lot of standout coaches this past season in the CBL, so awarding just one coach the Performance Coach Of The Year wasn’t easy. Coach Rotimi and the Southwark Legends coaches all had stellar seasons in their bounce back into the CBL and should be recognised. Also the coaching staff at Zoo Crew (U12 & U14’s) were simply outstanding all season long. Coach Daniel (London Elite) and Coach Mike Kwentoh (Chiswick Gators) both worked tirelessly in guiding competitive squads across multiple divisions – no easy feat.
However, our Performance Coach Of The Year goes to COHENEL’s AJ Roberts, who lead his Warriors to a back-to-back U18’s championship while surprising everyone in also bagging the Men’s Division title with his kids from COHENEL amidst a league of fully-grown (and proven) men.
AJ has been steadily building something special up in Enfield, with the core of his CBL team also representing his academy team up at COHENEL. In addition to CBL glory, his Warriors finished as the 3rd ranked team in the nation in the ABL finishing with an ABL record of 19-3, while making the AoC Cup Finals, which they unfortunately didn’t get to play, due to covid-19.
In the CBL, COHENEL have set the standard. Hungry, hard-working, respectful and super-talented. In many ways, the team embody their coach. They just get it done. Developing a ‘program’ doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time to really develop a culture and identity players, spectators and opposition can identify as your own. Late nights and early mornings being part teacher, guardian, confidante, disciplinarian and that friendly shoulder a player knows he or she can trust to come through for them, sometimes when nobody else will. AJ has been all of that, in building the Warriors up to the lofty heights they now maintain. When people talk about COHENEL, it carries weight (and expectation) now. There is a real feeling of family, unity, commitment, hard work and competitiveness that drives the culture of the program, carefully put together by AJ, piece by piece.
His players will tell you, he’s a ‘players coach’ – because he understands what it takes to bring the best out of them and always has a drill or new skill to share with them, just when they think they’ve seen it all. Opposing coaches will tell you, he’s one of the most respectful competitors you’ll find on the sidelines – always positive, whatever the outcome of the game may be. To be liked or to be respected? When it comes to AJ, you get the best of both worlds. A coach who genuinely cares for his players, which is why they will run through a wall for him in competition, but who has the rare ability to develop talent at a premium level and understands the process – because he has lived through it himself. He’s the type of coach who will never ask his players to do something he hasn’t done, (or can’t still do himself) as a top-level hooper himself, his words carry weight and his attention to detail is clear for all to see. Best of all? He’s just getting started…
In a league increasingly full of bright coaches, AJ shone the brightest this season and deservedly wins the 2019/20 CBL Performance Coach Of The Year. Salute. #earnednevergiven #trusttheprocess #dogmentality #hungrynhumble #yescoach