Since UIL rules prohibit a team’s coach from leading the squad in summer league activities, Madisonville Basketball Coach Chris Reid needed someone in the community that he could trust with the important task of his players’ offseason development.
“When I first arrived last summer and asked if anyone in the community was working with the kids, Cyrus Byrd’s name kept coming up,” said Reid. “One day this spring, I went to Marion Anderson Park and (Cyrus) was there with an entire group working on fundamentals. I could tell right away that he is knowledgable of the game and that his heart is in the right place with the kids in our program.”
Byrd is a graduate of Madisonville High School’s Class of 1999 and remained dedicated to the Mustang athletic programs after his own effective career on the court. With his experience in coaching and playing the game of basketball as well as his respect for Reid, Byrd did not hesitate when approached for the summer job.
“I was greatly thankful to be offered this position and took it with honor,” said Byrd. “The community needed someone like Coach Reid to come in and do what he has done with the kids. It has been a long time since our youth have had a basketball coach that wants to see these kids succeed not only in school and sports but in the community as well.”
Byrd, who has been playing basketball since he was six years old, credits the sport as his first love. He has worked with the local players for years on his own time and also took over as a Little Dribblers coach about 10 years ago. He led a Little Dribblers team all the way to a National Championship in Levelland, Texas.
“The kids were so excited,” said Byrd as he looked back on the title. “I was happy for them because I would always preach that hard work pays off in the end. I love to see the kids happy.”
After he led the Little Dribblers, Byrd took the next competitive step and began coaching an AAU team. However, the prices to enter the tournaments as well as hotels and food for the players was very expensive.
“This is where my appreciation for the parents and the community comes into play,” said Byrd. “We received very generous donations with our fundraisers in an attempt to get these kind of opportunities.”
With his new summer position, Byrd is not as concerned with the scores of the games as he is with the player development and work ethic. Stats are not recorded in summer league games and the Brazos Valley Summer Basketball League consists of Madisonville, North Zulch, Anderson-Shiro, Centerville, Franklin, Hearne, Iola, Leon and Normangee. The competitions take place on Monday evenings throughout June and alternate home gyms.
“I love teaching basketball to the kids and trying to be a positive role model in their lives to keep them active and motivated in school and sports,” said Byrd. “A motto I like to teach them is, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.’”