Marianna coach helps turn things around for players on, off the court

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MARIANNA, Ark. — There are many ways to describe Marianna coach Emmanuel Wade. He’s vocal, knowledgeable and he’s transformed a team that just last season were nicknamed “the bad news bears.”

“Talent is there. It needs to be cultivated and nourished in order for it to grow properly,” said Wade.

“To get them from using extreme profanity on the floor and just arguing with each other every day. They come from tough backgrounds, some of them.”

From apps to keeps his boys engaged to constant communication with their parents and a father-like love, Wade has sparked a fire in his players.

Just last season, this boys team ended the year with just three wins to their name. With Wade’s push and unique tactics, the team has reversed that. They’re now 23 and three this year.

“For the community it just boosts the community’s spirit because we haven’t had this in a long time, and for the team it lets the boys know that it is something they can do and they are winners,” said fan Valarie Westbrook.

“I want to give these guys an opportunity to get a chance to go to college or just have a chance to win. If you can win here, you can win in life,” said Wade.

Although Wade just made his way to the Marianna court he isn’t new to this gym. Years ago he helped bring in several championship wins racking up 2,000 points in high school.

As an alumnus and a case manager focusing on mental health, he knows all too well the struggle of being a teenager and athlete, which is what makes his push for success that much stronger.

“It’s really tough on kids that don’t have an outlet and don’t have that support system that’s in place for them. It takes like a village to really raise a kid.”

The village is comprised of everyone in Marianna who have found hope and inspiration through Wade and his players.

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