By KEVIN HARRIS
As far as Amy Gilbert is concerned, she is just a regular basketball coach.
But it is hard for basketball fans of the Jeffersonville High School boys’ basketball team and its opponents to notice that Gilbert is one of a kind when she sits on the bench during a game as an assistant coach for the Red Devil boys’ squad.
Gilbert, formerly Amy Austin, is the only female assistant coach in the state of Indiana on a high school boys’ basketball team’s coaching staff.
But Gilbert does not give much thought to being a part of a rare situation in the Hoosier State.
“Honestly, nothing,” Gilbert said about her thoughts when the subject of her being a female coach for a high school boys’ hoops team is brought up. “To me, basketball is basketball. I’ve been around it my whole life.”
Gilbert has been coaching basketball at Jeff, her alma mater, since she ended her collegiate playing career at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in the middle part of the last decade.
Gilbert started out as an assistant for the Red Devil girls’ team, which was coached at the time by current Jeff boys’ coach and her husband, Chad Gilbert. In their final season coaching the Red Devil girls, the Gilberts guided the Jeff females to the 2011 Class 4A state championship.
A couple of months later, the boys’ head coaching post at Jeff opened up and Chad Gilbert got the job. He wanted to bring his entire coaching staff from the girls’ team over to the boys’ squad, including Amy.
When Chad asked Amy if she wanted to be an assistant on the Jeff boys’ team, she did not hesitate and quickly accepted the offer.
“I loved it,” Amy said about her instant reaction when Chad asked her to be a boys’ assistant.
Amy Gilbert has enjoyed every minute of being a part of the boys’ coaching staff and never second-guessed her decision to coach the Red Devil males. The boys’ players have given her the utmost respect since she became one of their mentors.
“I love it. With the boys, basketball is basketball and you coach them the same,” Amy said. “I had reservations of how they would react having a woman as a coach because I know probably some of them had never had one. But from Day 1, they have always been respectful and always treated me like one of the other coaches.”
Chad Gilbert says his wife brings a lot to the table to the Jeff boys’ program.
“She’s very knowledgeable. She brings a lot of leadership and is extremely organized,” he said. “She can easily run her own team or be an administrator that runs a building. She’s very conscientious in everything she does and pays close attention to detail. She’s got a great work ethic. She’s a tireless worker and a competitor.”
Amy Gilbert played a critical role in helping the Red Devils win last weekend’s Class 4A Seymour Regional. She formulated the scouting report for the regional semifinal against Class 4A No. 4 Evansville Harrison, which the Red Devils defeated 73-62.
“She understands our system. She knows what were trying to do,” Chad Gilbert said. “Her knowledge of basketball and her ability to motivate kids is just as good as any coach on the team.”
Along with Amy Gilbert being the only female assistant boys’ coach in Indiana, her coaching situation at Jeff is even more unique due to the fact she coaches alongside her husband. But Amy, who is expecting the couple’s first child — a boy — on June 19, says the love of basketball she shares with Chad has formed a special bond between them.
“It’s interesting, for sure,” Amy said. “A lot of people in the community get our relationship. They always say that I just don’t think I can ever work with my husband. But from Day 1, it just clicks with us. I make sure he doesn’t have to take care of any of the office work. I just try to make sure that he can concentrate on coaching the basketball team, and I’ll try to help out in any way I can.
“We’ll go home and talk about practice and things we can do different. We love to watch basketball together. We like to get plays off TV and from other teams.”
When Amy started coaching, she wanted to be a head coach of her own high school program one day. But her goals have changed since then and she is happy where she is at right now. Amy, who is the interim dean of students at Jeff High, has her sights set on being a school administrator in the future.
“I tinkered around with [the idea of being a head coach] in the first couple of years coaching, just trying to learn how to run a program. I thought about it when Chad moved over to the boys,” she said. “But I like the position that I’m in. Right now, I’m in the process of getting my administrator’s license, so I’m heading down that route. It just works for the both of us to be in the same program.”