The Anatomy of a State Champion

"Walk, talk and act like a champion everyday," says Minneapolis South Head Coach Ahmil Jihad.



The Minneapolis South Tigers, 2008-09 class 4A champions, will return to the court this fall. While Head Coach Ahmil Jihad says he feels no pressure to repeat, the Lady Tigers will need to stay healthy and work hard to return to the Target Center in March. Tyisha Smith's return should aid South in its quest for back to back titles.

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gPrep Q&A

gPrep: What’s the hardest part about being a defending state champion, and the easiest part?

Coach Ahmil: "The hardest part is trying to get my young players to embrace the tradition of hard work and follow the example that the older players have laid down before them. The easiest part is selling parents on my philosophy now"work hard - get paid". Many parents opposed me when I told them five years
ago that we will practice at 6am everyday and play the toughest schedule possible all in effort of winning a championship and restoring pride to South Minneapolis. Now players and parents get upset when we have to change to afternoon workouts because of scheduling conflicts."

gPrep: What will it take to repeat in March?

Coach Ahmil: "All of our returning players must stay healthy and really carry the load of doing whatever we ask them to do as a team player. On
the other hand, all of our younger players need to pick up the pace and work very hard to bring their level of play up. Avoid my wrath. Last year I had to
suspend three starters for breaking team rules, and I will NOT hesitate to do it again if the situation comes up again. After many meetings with parents and
administrators, many firmly agree that my firm stance on discipline and academics help show our kids how to win big."

gPrep: Talk about the components of a championship team.

Coach Ahmil: "Chemistry is always huge in the sense that they MUST want each other to be successful and really care about each other.
HARD work - working out with the guys, running around the lakes during the off season, extra shooting, aerobics, pilates, kettle ball workouts, yoga,
swimming, weight lifting and injury prevention training where they show you how to stretch properly and take care of your body as an athlete."

gPrep: Who is your toughest team to play?

Coach Ahmil: "No brainier- HOPKINS, Coach Cos and I are good friends, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his staff. They have the ideal facility, great support and state of the art equipment that we can only dream about having. Not to mention, Hannah Potter & Brianna Williams are two major Division One players who will have the opportunity to play professional someday."

gPrep: What’s the single most important skill/talent a team needs to get to the Target Center in March?

Coach Ahmil: : "Shooting the ball, getting kids to buy in on shooting the ball during their down time is HUGE. We don't have a shooting machine (Gun, rebounder etc.) so kids would pair up on Sunday morning or Friday night and go shoot at a recreation center. Tayler Hill was big on weekend shooting and pretty soon I found my own daughter and every other kid committing to 2000 shots every weekend."

gPrep: Describe the “perfect” team.

Coach Ahmil: "Ty Smith, Sadiqah Jihad, Kaneesha Green, Wanda Carter, Ameshia Kearney."


gPrep: Describe the “total” player.

Coach Ahmil: : "Tayler Hill- She was a very good high school player but even a better person, as many people who really know her will tell you, and
she's the best female I've ever coached."

gPrep: Is there pressure on you to win again?

Coach Ahmil: "Absolutely NOT, we've been blessed to be recognized as one of the top teams in the nation, and we've won many games over the years. Pressure to me is providing a safe, comfortable environment for a student athlete, who's homeless with very little parental support. So, I'm forced to serve as a surrogate father to many disadvantaged kids, who come from unstable homes that want to be a part of something positive."

gPrep: What’s the best basketball advice you’ve ever been given?

Coach Ahmil: "The greater part of our happiness depends on our disposition and not our circumstances. Walk, talk & act like a Champion everyday. You must want to be successful, just like you want to breathe. That's our attitude & mindset at South."

gPrep: Who’s your mentor?

Coach Ahmil: "My mother, hands down with Vivian Stringer as a close second. Both have unbelievable stories that bring tears to my eyes every time I sit and talk war stories with them."








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