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Eastern resource officer steps up for middle school athletes

Josh Myers gives back to youth sports in his community

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LEADER — Eastern Head Coach Josh Myers rallies his eighth-graders during a timeout in their game against St. Joan of Arc last Thursday. He has coached them since they were in seventh grade and wanted to grow alongside them. Although the game didn't go the way they wanted, he liked the fight from his players.

For the last year-and-a-half, one resource officer at Eastern Middle School has transitioned into a major role in the school’s athletics program, a role where he said he can have a deeper impact on the kids’ lives.

Josh Myers, an Eastern grad himself, stepped up to coach the seventh- and eighth-grade boys’ basketball and football teams for the past two seasons. He credited his own father’s love for and involvement in youth sports for wanting to get involved himself.

“[My father] used to volunteer his time, and I used to just watch at how much of an impact that makes and how much effect he had on the reach of the community through sports, something he was very passionate about. And that kind of passion rubbed off on me,” Myers said.

Being a school resource officer and coach, Myers said, is an extremely rewarding experience.

As a younger resource officer, Myers is able to relate to the kids through his stories and perspectives, but in a disciplinary role. But through sports, he said he’s making even more personal relationships with the kids and their families. Now, it’s not “deputy” or “officer;” it’s “coach” first.

He loves working with the middle school age group as well and said it can be a tough and transitional time. The impact he’s able to have on them now, he said, is likely greater than if it were another age group.

“I’m getting to reach them before they start getting to that point where they are making decisions that will last forever. We talk about how much people will remember you for the last time they saw you, no matter whether that was middle school age or high school age,” he said. “And so now’s a pivotal point where you, going through puberty, decide who you are and the friend groups you have.”

As much as Myers loves basketball and football, his favorite sports, his number-one goal is to teach the kids to be good young men. With his brother, Kameron Myers, as his assistant coach, Myers said they’ve worked to instill discipline and respect into the program.

The players wear dress clothes to school on game days and to and from the games, something Myers said teaches the kids an early sense of professionalism.

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“We want to present ourselves as professionals every day and to make sure that when we show up, people look at us and think differently. We’re not coming in dressed in sweatpants and stuff like that. We really harp on that, respect, making sure we tell the bus driver ‘thank you’ every day when we go home, just the little things,” Myers said. “So, it’s a unique opportunity to get them at this level now, and I jokingly say a lot, ‘If I can teach you now, if I can instruct you or mentor you now, then I won’t have to deal with you later in my real job.’”

Myers joined the military in 2009. When he was discharged, he told himself he wouldn’t return to Howard County. However, it didn’t take long for him to realize how much the community meant to him and helped shape his life. So, in 2015, he moved back to the City of Firsts and began working for the Howard County Sheriff’s Office.

Returning to Eastern was an easy choice. The school system holds the same beliefs Myers does, he said, and he wanted to give back.

“They just have similar values, the Eastern School Corporation does. They allow their teachers to be teachers. They encourage them. They’re very positive. And the athletics, we’re in a building stage. We’re not the best, don’t have the best facilities. We’re always playing from behind. We’re a smaller school,” Myers said. “But that doesn’t stop them. They encourage their coaches and students to be unique, and I just like that. I think we align really well with that.”

Myers has taken on an underdog mentality, and it’s contagious within his team. He said he tells his team to give it their all because everyone is sleeping on them, not believing they can win against bigger schools. He said the coaching staff teaches that respect is earned, not given.

“These kids that I have, it was hard for them. It took a full year. It was toward the end of last year’s season. We went into a double-overtime with Delphi, and it really was a pivotal turning point for them to realize that if they play at their highest expectation, they will earn teams’ respect, whether they win or lose,” Myers said. “Unfortunately we lost by one point, but when we walked off that court, they weren’t talking the same trash they were talking when we started. This year has been a much better team when it comes to their mentality.”

Myers said his ultimate goal is to move on to coach at the high school level and is looking forward to that challenge should it come.

But for now, he’ll continue to mentor middle school students and try to shape them into professionals before they ever take a high school court.