The Legend of Coach Pitts


Pearson Georges

Coach Pitts yells out instructions to his JV boys basketball team.

For the past six years, Chris Pitts has served the Westminster boys basketball program by sacrificing his time and effort to coach various different teams and players. He started out coaching the seventh grade team, and now, this year, in his seventh season, he is coaching JV.

Throughout the years, Coach Pitts has gained a reputation for being a tough coach because when Pitts coaches a team, he doesn’t allow any of his players to give anything less than their best effort in practice or games.

“I don’t coach effort, I demand it, which is one reason so many kids have a problem with me when they make my team. I ask them to do the best they can on and off the court, pay attention to the details, practice and play hard and to be unselfish. I demand so much because I want them to be successful in our program and when they get out of Westminster.,” said Coach Pitts.

Practices with Coach Pitts are especially difficult. He trains his team to be completely locked in on the drill at hand or otherwise, the players will find themselves suffering through an assortment of sprints such as “10 down and backs”, “17’s”, or “suicides.”

“Coach Pitts always had hard practices and worked to make us a better team. We always did a lot of conditioning to make sure that we were in good shape, so we could out hustle and outplay our opponents,” said senior Jack Martin, who played for Pitts during his sophomore year.

Not only does Coach Pitts demand that his players give their best effort, but he always works hard himself. He’s constantly going from one job to the next and never gets a break.

“I’m in healthcare at St. Luke’s Hospital. I’m also the director of athletics and aftercare at Kirk Day School, and I do individual basketball training as well,” said Pitts.

Considering the legend that is Coach Pitts, nothing is quite as amazing as his toughness. Incredibly, Coach Pitts currently walks, runs, and even plays basketball on a torn ACL.

“I tore it playing full-court 1-on-1 with someone in order to get a good cardio workout in. I heard something pop and had to stop for the night because my knee was weak and I couldn’t stand. It swelled that night, so I iced it and elevated it until the swelling went down. I kept it wrapped, but I was able to run a few weeks later so I thought it was just a bad sprain. I played a pick-up game again a few weeks later and went up for a rebound. When I landed, my knee gave out and that’s when I knew something was wrong. I finally got an MRI and that’s when I found out I had an ACL and meniscus tear. I didn’t believe the doctor because I told him I was still able to run. He explained that because the muscles in my upper leg, such as my quads and hamstrings, were so strong that they compensated for the tear in the ACL and meniscus,” said Coach Pitts.

However, he plans on pushing off surgery until next year.

“Because you don’t need your ACL, and I’m not as active as I used to be, I’ve pushed the surgery off. I plan on getting the surgery before basketball season 2020.”

In order to instill into his players the kind of work ethic and toughness that Coach Pitts exhibits every day, he often repeats a variety of phrases and motivational sayings to encourage, correct, or point out an aspect of basketball or of life.

For example, here are a few of Chris Pitts’ favorite sayings:
“Tough times don’t last but tough people do”
“So much goes into what it takes besides seeing a score on the scoreboard”
“I never want good enough to be good enough”
“Character, merit, grit, and plain hard work is more important than anything”
“Do you tell yourself the truth?”

Certainly, Coach Pitts constantly seeks to get the best out of his players, but he also does what a lot of other coaches wouldn’t do. When needed, he joins in on the team scrimmages and will even play one-on-one with players. When he does so, he doesn’t just fill in a spot on the court. He runs the point, whipping passes to players cutting to the basket and occasionally pulling up from deep, all the while participating in a joking war of banter with his players.

Sophomore Luke Beachy played for Coach Pitts last year on the JV team, and when asked about what makes playing for Pitts unique, he said, “Coach Pitts is different from other coaches in the relationships he makes with his players. He loves to joke with us while keeping a serious environment. He would challenge me and others to one-on-one games while the rest of the team got water to push us into becoming the best we could be.

Through it all, Coach Pitts helps his players reach their full potential in the game of basketball. To some, basketball may be nothing more than a winter sport where you put a ball in a hoop, but to Coach Pitts, the game is much more than that. Ever since he fell in love with it as a little kid, basketball has been a blessing in more ways than one.

“I’ve been into basketball ever since my grandfather took me to 297 Park in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn and taught me how to shoot a basketball. This was in 1995 and I was 7 years old. I like basketball because I like the flow of the game- the movement, the teamwork, and the skill level that it takes to play it,” said Coach Pitts.

Certainly, basketball is an exciting sport, but there is more to it than just playing. Through basketball, priceless life lessons of grit and hard work can be learned. Coach Pitts has benefitted from the game ever since he went to 297 Park when he was 7 years old, and now, to give back to the next generation, he uses his knowledge and expertise in coaching to help many Westminster basketball teams reach their full potential. More importantly, through some hard practices as well as genuine laughs, he is able to build strong relationships with his players, instill in them a work ethic and toughness like no other, and ensure that not only will the boys become better basketball players but better men. If that’s not legendary, then I don’t know what is.