Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day of 2010!

Happy New Year! It's been a terrific year. 2010 saw the Alberts with 2 kids in high school again, one in college and another in 8th grade. I took classes at MSU Northern in Havre this summer to earn my driver's education endorsement. Later that summer I taught my first 15 of which was Easton! I survived, enjoyed it and am looking forward to this summer's class. Though I am not looking forward to all of the sitting! Carla is still working at Catalyst Physical Therapy here in Hamilton. She loves her work and only gets frustarted when her patients don't show up:) She got some extra work this June when her dad was bucked off his new horse and broke his pelvis. She drove to Seattle to transport him home...I know Don was very appreciative. He is doing well but it was a very difficult injury and it hampered his efforts to win a state house seat in the last election. He ran as a republican, which if you know anything about Missoula politics and especially the lower Rattlesnake area, the task was Herculian! (He only lost by 80 votes). We are very proud of "Grandpa Harby" and how he cares about the future of your kids and mine. Last winter was my last as the varsity girls coach. I resigned to have the freedom to watch my kids this winter. For example, the last few months of 2010 has been filled with basketball! I am coaching Jaylee's AAU team again, Easton has started freshmen basketball and Kaurie is a senior on her team. It has been quite eventful thus far. My team is 10-3 so far...beating several AA all star teams along the way. Easton is 3-1 and starting at the point guard and loving it! Kaurie's team is 3-2...a season highlighted so far by a win against Columbia Falls and 33 points by Kaurie! (I am also back reffing when it doesn't conflict with kids' games.)
Last season was Ashley's first as a member of the Montana State Women's basketball team. It was very successful for both her and her team. She played about 15 minutes per game. It was a season in which they beat the Lady Griz in Missoula for the first time since 1976 and also saw the Cats play in the tournament championship game. (They lost by 4 to Portland State). Of course we are very dissappointed that we don't get watch Ashley play this year. She started at the point guard position for two exhibition games and then tore her ACL at practice the following Monday. She will redshirt this season and have 3 remaining years of could always be worse. She had surgery and is doing quite well. She is traveling with the team and acting as a student coach:)

It was a special fall as I got to coach Easton for the first time as a member of our vasity cross country team. He was our number one runner all season and ran a personal best 16:39 for 3 miles. He also placed 11th at state...not bad for a little freshman:) See the previous blog for more information.

We all wish you a blessed 2011. Remember how good God is and we wish you His best! Hope to see you soon.

With love,

Mark, Carla and the kids

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All - State Easton!

Congrats to this year's Hamilton Cross country teams as we made a strong showing at last weekend's Montana State Cross Country Championships. We're very young this year so placing high at the meet was not a priority, but finishing strong was. We wanted it to be a beginning, not an end. Our boys team returns all 7 runners and also a very strong group of JV kids. Look out next season!

Our top 4 girls are all sophomores and have a love for running. With the addition of some incoming freshmen next fall, we could really make a big jump.

Sara Amish, our top runner this season placed 17th at the state meet! She was only two places from making the podium. Way to go Sara!

Easton was able to accomplish his personal goal of making all state by placing 11th out of 136 runners! In fact, he was the second fastest freshman in the state that any classification. Congratulations Son!

It was a special season and we're all really excited about the potential for excellence next season. With quality summer dedication, the future is very bright.

Go Broncs!

P.S. A special congrats go out to Chris Jessop and the Corvallis Blue Devils for their indivdual and team State championships...they were very deserving.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It was a P.R. day!!

Frenchtown. Wednesday. September 22. 3:00 pm. The Broncs came and the Broncs excelled!!

95% of our runners ran personal best times for their high school cross country career. The day was perfect. The course was ideal and the time of the season was suited for a day of personal records (P.R.). We had kids drop not just multiple seconds but multiple minutes!

Both boys and girls teams were outstanding. I was so proud of them all. Their hard work has really begun to pay off. Most of our kids are underclassmen, so the future is very bright for Hamilton Cross Country! Since most of you who read this blog are friends and family, you'll be happy to know that Easton set the all-time fastest freshman record at 16:39...beating the current record by 24 seconds! Not bad for a little bug like E:)

Congrats Broncs. Let's go cut some more time on Saturday!

Run fast.

Coach Albert

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And they're off...

Tuesday, August 31st was the beginning of the 2010 cross country season. We competed at the Butte Central Invitation held on the golf course at Fairmont Hotsprings Resort. It was a pretty good day. Our top 5 boys were only seperated by 1:10. This is good for a team with no blazing fast runner. It shows our strength in TEAM. As we improve our times and even lower our seperation time...look out!

Both our girls and boys teams are young but enthusiastic with some real potential for excellence. We had 3 kids in the top 20. We are already hungry for tomorrow's meet in Ronan.

Remember runners to get a lot of sleep, water and good calories. The sky is the limit if we remember two things this up everyday and work hard, and compete in every meet.

Go Broncs!!

Coach Albert

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vegas Champs Again!

The "Super 7!" What a great week in Las Vegas for the AAU West Coast Championships July 22-25. Big Sky Hoops once again won the event as they had done in 2008. The difference this year was no one came close to challenging these Montana girls. This was truly the finest team I have ever coached!

We beat 4 metropolitan teams by sharing the ball and puting on a defensive clinic. We kept people out of the lane, talked and helped. We were relentless rebounders, hustled and executed. I was so proud of our unselfishness on the offensive end. This team didn't care who got the glory...for a group of girls made up of kids from across the state and with only four practices under their belt, this was truly a TEAM in every sense of the word. I received more compliments from people, many complete strangers on how hard our team played and shared the ball. This was encouraged by me but embraced by the players. What a terrific group of young ladies...players and people!

I truly enjoyed my time with these girls during our three tournaments together. Great basketball, great people and some solid, Vegas shows and LeBron James:)

Good luck and God bless you girls during your senior year and into your college career...I'll be watching!!

Coach Albert

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2nd At EOT!

Congratulations to Big Sky Hoops for placing 2nd at the prestigious End of the Oregon Trail Tournament in Portland last week. I was very proud of the intensity and teamwork showed by our team during their 6 games. We beat a team from the Minneapolis area in the semi-final that was a tremendous upset. It may be one of the best games I have been a part of. It has really been a blessing for me to coach this team. (As you can see the team was coached and managed by two handsome devils!)

We head to Vegas tomorrow for our last tournament. We won it in 2008 and hope to do the same this week:) Go Big Sky!

Coach Albert

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cross Country: Did you know?

7 reasons to come out for the Team...

1. Did you know cross country races are 3 miles long? Most races are run on scenic golf courses and historic parks. The best weather in Montana is consistently in the fall – coincidently the same time as cross country. Think about it.

2. Did you know that seniors who complete the cross country season automatically letter whether or not they’re on varsity? There is a place on our team for students of all shapes, sizes and abilities. Think about it.

3. Did you know the cross country season is only 2 months long? This short 2 months could help you control your weight, get in shape for other sports and teach you a great lifetime activity. Think about it.

4. Did you know cross country is fun? Doing something you never thought was possible is very rewarding. Being supported and encouraged by teammates and opponents alike is an event experienced by few high school athletes. Think about it.

5. Did you know if you’re not out for a fall sport like football, volleyball, cheerleading, or golf that there is a place for you on our cross country team? Take a challenge and do something to keep fit next school year. It’s important you participate in something next fall. Think about it.

6. Did you know the cross country team has gone from 17 kids Coach Albert’s first season to as many as 54 in 2007? Come out next fall and help us be the biggest and best team in the state. Let’s break 60. Think about it.

7. Did you know all who come out for cross country get to participate in every event? It’s not just a select few that get to compete. If we have 60 kids out, then 60 kids get to participate in each race. Think about it.

2010 Cross country season starts on August 16th
Happy running!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

AZ Elite Spring Classic

We're back from Phoenix. Last weekend we played 4 games against some very good club teams from around the nation and by the end of it all it was clear to me we were a top team at the tournament. With a little better scheduling luck we could have won it all. We went 3-1 only losing to eventual champion AZ Elite (the home team) by 4 points. It was our first game and only game on Friday…at 9:00 pm no less!
We beat Oregon Elite, New Mexico Select and NBA Select (don't know where they are from) in our last three games. Our team plays terrific defense, we are scrappy and play well together. Our kids are very unselfish and appear to enjoy playing together. I was sure pleased with how far we came in just 3 practices and 4 games. By the end of July…look out!
The girls were very coachable and made my experience a pleasant one. I wish the games would have been longer so we could have gotten them all a little more playing time. It’s difficult for players who are used to playing every minute of every game, to accept a new role with a new team. I guess this was their first taste of college basketball where all teammates are good and suddenly they have to accept a role they may be unaccustomed to. I thought our team did this with class and understanding.

We head to the Portland area in July to compete in the largest girls basketball tournament in the U.S., the End of the Trail Tournament. We'll have to drive to this one but it should be a great experience with our 9 Montana kids. I know we will once again make Montana proud! Have a great spring ladies.

Coach Albert

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Big Sky Hoops

This is a picture of our Big Sky Hoops team from 2008. This team traveled to Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas seeking the exposure necessary to earn a college scholarship. We had a great time and every player did receive at least one offer to play basketball at the next level. Two of these young ladies currently play in the Big Sky Conference and two or three others will join the league next year. Two of these girls play at schools not in the Big Sky and are having a blast playing the sport they love all the while earning a college degree at a reduced expense...this is the part most parents appreciate!

This week I will be meeting the 2010 version of Big Sky Hoops. We have 8 girls right now from both ends of the state...Miles City to Hamilton. I am very excited about coaching this group. Like the 2008 team, I am confident these players will represent Montana with class and competitiveness. We have practice at Manhattan High School this Saturday and Sunday and then fly to Phoenix next Thursday for the AZ Elite Girls Basketball Tournament. The basketball is great and the weather isn't too bad either:) This is the tournament where our girls will get their first look by coaches and hopefully calls will follow.

Coaching an elite group of players is a real treat for me. The best part is getting to know quality young ladies and their parents from around Montana. I know the transition to a new coach and a new set of teammates can be tough, but it can also be very rewarding. Friendships will be formed and memories will be made. Shots will be made and charges will be taken. We will play hard, play smart and play together. Isn't this a great game?!

See you soon ladies.

Coach Albert

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

End of an era...

Dear girls,

Over the past four years, we have really seen the Hamilton Lady Broncs program excel and become one of excellence and tradition…the highlight being our appearance in last year’s state championship game. During this four year period, our teams won a combined fifty games and competed with class and character in every contest. I feel our teams have done a superb job in representing our school and the community of Hamilton. It has been an absolute privilege to be your coach.

Unfortunately, I will have to watch future Lady Broncs from the stands and not from the bench. I have decided to step down as head coach. I will have both a son and daughter in high school over the next five years and another daughter playing college basketball. I’m going to be pulled in too many directions and will be unable to devote the kind of time necessary to help next year's team be their best and support my four kids in their activities. In short, I need the freedom to be a better dad.

I have coached basketball at some level for the past 22 years…stepping away from a program and students I love is very difficult. Perhaps the most difficult part is the loss of potential relationships I could have with future players. I do want to stay involved somehow, but I simply need to concentrate on being a good parent, husband and teacher right now. This decision is a tough one for me and may be tough for some to understand, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

Coaching high school basketball is a tough job, tougher than most realize. It is my part time job that consumes me on a full time basis. That being said, being a coach is also one of the most rewarding positions one can hold. I was truly blessed by players, parents and fans these past four years and hope to one day return in some capacity to help the program continue its winning ways.

I look forward to supporting next year’s version of the Lady Broncs. I have no doubt they will carry on our core covenants of Sportsmanship, Tradition, Unity and Competitiveness. Go Broncs!


Coach Albert

P.S. I want to especially thank Coach Faris for his unwavering support and wisdom over the past four years. I have never worked with a finer assistant or a better man. If he chooses to apply for the head coaching position, I know our players will be blessed and our program will be in excellent hands.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The best of days...the worst of days.

Last Saturday, February 27, 2010 was like the title suggests, the best of days the worst of days. No, nothing tragic or serious happened. However, the 2010 Lady Broncs' season ended with a heartbreaking loss to Dillon. I was sure proud of my girls. We battled back from 10 down at the start of the 4th to take a one point lead with a minute left. Unfortunately, we were unable to make free throws to secure the win. Our kids had a solid tournament but were again plagued by shooting woes. We missed at least 8 lay ups against Frenchtown on Thursday and despite a solid shooting performance from Cookie on Saturday, or team percentage was still less than 25%.

If I could point to a couple of skills we missed most from previous seasons it was our ability to shoot the basketball, make free throws and last year's team really had a "feel" for the game. That being said, this year's team could have taught previous teams a thing or two about taking charges and offensive rebounding. Boy was I proud of our effort in these categories over the weekend. We took 9 charges between the two games and out rebounded both opponents.

Sorry it didn't work out ladies, but again I was very proud of your effort and progress this season. I had fun and enjoyed coaching you. As most of you know, there are no guarantees in basketball or life. I was bummed for us last week but it could have been worse. We could have been like Livingston, ranked #1 in the state only to lose Saturday night and Monday night by a combined 2 points and have our season end in extreme disappointment. Thank you. It was a very successful season in many ways!

Saturday was also one of the best days for our family...especially for our new Bobcat family. The Lady Cats defeated the Lady Griz in Dahlberg Arena for the first time since 1977! Ashley played 16 of the first 20 minutes as Sarah was in foul trouble and held her own in front of what might be considered her home least it was her parents' home town:) Sarah dominated the second half and Katie Bussey was amazing hitting two clutch threes in the last 2 minutes to secure the win. Katie was 6-10 on that's what I call a shooter! (I wonder how many hours Katie has put in to become that type of shooter?)

Good luck this week Lady Cats and good luck in the Big Sky Tournament. Unfortunately the Lady Broncs won't be participating in the State A Tournament here in Hamilton, but now I'll be able to watch Ashley and the Cats make a run at getting into the NCAA Tournament...WOW!

Coach Albert

P.S. Saturday also marked the 42nd birthday of my best friend Carla. Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tourney Time!!

Well, tomorrow at 2:00 the new season begins. The Lady Broncs take on Frenchtown in the 4 vs 5 game. The winner will advance to the semi-final vs Anaconda, the #1 seed for the 6th year in a row.

There are numerous routes for our team to take and make it to state (in Hamilton)...however, we'd sure like to take the 3-0 route! Remember girls, it's not over until we've lost two games. Don't ever give up. Fight to the wire. Play with courage, have fun and play with composure.

Even though we're the number 5 seed, our best basketball is ahead of us. We're at home and we'll have an awesome crowd. Embrace this moment in time and play with confidence. Be your best when your best is required.

Go Broncs!

Coach Albert

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How productive are you?'s an interesting word. It can apply to so many areas of our life. How much homework can you get done in a two hour period? Can you stay focused or are you like I was in college, always wandering around, trying to find anything to do but school work?

Do you get your chores done in a timely manner or do you put them off until "later" and don't really start them until after mom has to nag you about it? How long does it take for you to write thank you cards after Christmas or a birthday?

What is your productivity like as a player? Do you make the most of your minutes or do you spend most of your time complaining about your lack of playing time? What are you doing with your minutes? Are you scoring, rebounding, playing solid defense or are you turning the ball over, soft on defense and making poor decisions? Are you helping or hurting? Are you productive?

This past game against Stevensville, my team was very productive despite not shooting the ball very well. We got key contributions from all players and our team "managed" the game very well. Our points per possession needs to increase but we are taking care of the ball and limiting our turnovers.

On a related note, I am especially proud of Ashley for her most recent "productivity" for the Montana State Women's basketball team. The Cats beat Portland State last weekend in perhaps their most complete game of the season. "Bert" was especially solid in her fifteen minutes of play...16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, an assist and no turnovers. Her field goal percentage has needed improvement, so her 6 for 8 performance was especially encouraging.

Yes, I'm bragging about my kid again. But my point is really how impressed I have been with Ashley's production as an 18 year old reserve player. Against Weber she only played 5 minutes but had 6 points and was in at the end to finish out a fairly close game. I am especially proud of her attitude and her willingness to embrace the role the coaches have laid out for her.

Like I always tell my team, every game is different. You need to be ready when you are called on. Make the most of your time. There are a lot of people out there who'd love to be in your shoes. Be productive.

Coach Albert

P.S. Check out Bert on the MSU website in a short interview after the PSU game.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Unique Challenges

One of the unique challenges coaching presents is to make all members of a team FEEL valued while at the same time making sure the top 8 players or so get most of the reps. At the college level this means about 6 to 8 kids don't see much time...though there still is 40 minutes to find some time for kids. At the high school level (32 minute games), we practice with about 18 kids between our varsity/JV teams...this means about 8-10 kids see limited or no varsity time. Unlike college, we do a have a JV team for kids to participate on, but it's not uncommon for kids to feel "left out" during the week as the head coach is trying to prepare for the upcoming opponents.

Being a JV player may be one of the most trying positions to be in...I know, I too was a JV player. What I didn't realize at the time was what a privilege it was for me to simply be healthy enough to play at all. I made a team in the program...there were kids who got cut, who are injured, disabled or not skilled enough to be on the team. It's so easy to take our teammates, coaches, parents and just health in general for granted. We all need to keep an attitude of gratitude as we walk through this life.

In high school basketball, there are 160 minutes of playing time to distribute between our players. By comparison, soccer has 1320 minutes available to spread around. Again, basketball presents unique challenges. I am thankful our girls are so understanding and accommodating. It's tough being on varsity but not really playing much. Our coaching staff truly appreciates your commitment ladies. Just like my own experience, your turn will come. We need you now and especially the next couple of years. Stay positive, have fun and keep getting better. You are very much a valued part of the Lady Broncs!! Good luck this week vs the Beavers.

Coach Albert

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Life is Precious.

This weekend I attended my Grandma Betty's funeral. She passed away on Thursday from a massive stroke she experienced two days before. Despite the loss of such a special lady, the time spent with family and friends recounting her life and her influence on all of us, it really became a weekend of joy. Life is short. I didn't get to know Grandma Betty as well as I would have liked but I know she loved me like all of her grandkids. She lived by a pretty simple motto: Be good, do good and live good. This is very "good" advice.

God is good...and life is good despite all of its challenges. Embrace where you are at and who you are with. Smile. Love those nice enough to put up with you:) Stop by your grandma/grandpa's house, "just because." Call your parents today just to say "hi." Remind your friends that you are thinking about them. Pray for them all. It was good to reflect this weekend on what's important. I'm sure I will slip back into my old selfish habits soon enough, but for today and tomorrow, I choose to reconnect with as many as I can. Thanks for helping me remember what's truly important Grandma Betty. "Fly to Jesus Betty go girl."



Monday, January 11, 2010

Free Throws, Rebounds and Turnovers

Of all the statistics in basketball there are perhaps none carrying more significance than the three listed in the title. In every loss, teams need only look as far as one, two or all three of these areas to see why their team fell short for that game.

In order to win, a team must get to the line and make a high percentage of free throw attempts. Be confident at the line. This is the one time we like our players to be's time to "get a point for you."

The Lady Cats gave up 19 and 18 offensive rebounds to their opponents this past weekend. Both games were close and had the Ladies been more successful in this area, they would have won both conference games. Rebound "the first one" and you'll win nearly every game...yes, rebounding is that critical!

Rebounding (locating, locking up and blocking out) is simply a commitment. Good rebounders are great team players. They are committed to doing the dirty work, the little things that in the end are huge. Good rebounders block out EVERY time and are committed to the technique necessary to get the ball, secure it and to keep the opponent from getting it back. There is no such thing as a good defensive team that doesn't finish the possession with the ball. The rebound finishes the defense.

Finally, take care of the ball. Possession is everything. You can't score without the ball. Don't be careless with it, protect it with your life. How many points are we getting per possession? If it's over one point per possession we'll more than likely win the game. Turnovers limit our possessions and give our opponent more opportunities to score. Nothing changes the momentum of a game more than a turnover that leads to points.

This week as we prepare for our opponents, let's commit to making our free throws, rebounding the first one, and taking care of the ball. These we can control...the winning will take care of itself.

Coach Albert