Blossom Building Champions – Part 1
(St. Louis, MO) – When you listen to Webster Groves basketball coach Jay Blossom talk you realize he loves what he does and is proud of his former players. Winning state titles, coaching the US National Team and collecting conference championships are important to this self described ‘type A’ personality, but not more important than his players, community and his family.
We sat down with the 18-year veteran of Statesmen basketball to find out about this experiences both at the prep and national level. He has faced health scares, coached against future NBA players and believes in building championship people as much as championship teams.
Coaching a defending state champion with two, top-100 players on the current roster, prospects are good that Blossom’s Webster Groves team is the odds on favorite to win back-to-back titles. Courtney Ramey (Louisville) and Carte’Are Gordon (Saint Louis) are two of the nation’s best players. Blossom won his first state championship in 2008 and his second last season.
He says the first title was special, partially because of the on-going success of his former players. He goes on to say that his multiple conference championships can be just as gratifying, even though in basketball’s current climate, many people only care about championship rings.
Blossom has won over 78% of his games, over 400 career games and yes, sixteen straight conference titles. He admits he didn’t know the special nature of the Webster community when he was hired almost two decades ago.
The 53-year-old tells us the community is like a small college town tucked into suburban St. Louis, and that he loves coaching in historic Roberts Gymnasium. His highly successful coaching record has played a part in building the Webster mystique. Some of the special things about his program and the Webster community involve the annual honoring of the community’s last African American High School. Statesmen fans (‘Roberts’ Rowdies’) are rabid, there is an on-going rivalry with nearby Kirkwood High and the old-timers keep coming around.
One member of the 2008 team, Drew Hanlen, went on to play at Belmont University and has been wildly successful at training individual basketball players through his company ‘Pure Sweat Basketball‘. Blossom says coaching Hanlen and watching his success has been very gratifying. He calls Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards) the best player he’s coached against, and he’s excited about the NBA future in store for fellow St. Louisan and Hanlen protege Jayson Tatum.
Our next conversation with Blossom will include a his time with USA U18 team, what it is like to coach two elite level players and what he wishes was different about prep basketball.