Sporting their second championship title within the last three seasons, it looks like Coach Joseph's prayers have indeed been answered. Gilbert Christian cruised through the playoffs to beat Thatcher in a convincing victory that served as the ultimate triumph for Coach of the Year, Coach Joseph and his talented players.
With the controversy that took place during the departure of previous winning head coach, Steve Currier, the Gilbert Christian boys basketball program's winning ways appeared at that time to be on the brink of dismantling.
Enter Coach Jerome Joseph.
A California transplant from the Los Angeles area, Coach Joseph played high school varsity basketball for 4 straight years and acquired an "All-American" designation as a player along the way. He played for Azusa Pacific University where he also acquired the "All-American" titled by averaging 22 points per game.
After college, he had opportunities to play professionally in Europe but chose to go the "business" route instead. Recently relocated to Arizona, Coach Joseph coached local club teams "Attitude Dreams" and "Blue Chip Players" before being tapped as the head coach of the Gilbert Christian high school boys basketball program.
When asked why Gilbert Christian high school is so consistently successful in basketball, Coach Joseph replied, "The school emphasizes God, academics and sports with God being first and foremost."
But Coach Joseph believes that God helps those who help themselves so he does not leave anything to chance. If you visit the basketball team's workouts you will quickly discover that "strenuous" is the best way to describe his practices.
Coach Joseph does not allow the boys to bask in past glory or future expectations of more championship banners. "There is always room for improvement, close out meetings on what to improve upon are the norm with us. We continue to add stuff to our game to include better footwork, handles, variety of shots and basketball IQ improvement in order to be prepared to handle all kinds of game situations", states Coach Joseph.
When asked about the court "swagger" that Gilbert Christian is becoming known for, Coach Joseph responds, "I am OK with swagger and confidence but it must be balanced with being humble. It is OK to receive accolades but what matters is what happens at the end of the season."
What leaves a lot of folks scratching their heads is that Gilbert Christian is a school of 175 students and yet has managed to become one of the top basketball programs in Arizona. Already, college coaches throughout the country are gravitating to Gilbert Christian in search of talent. The small school that has just been around for 7 years is no longer a secret and its basketball pedigree is rising and the word on the street is that great basketball coaching and talented players are to be found at this school.
"We don't recruit at all", states Coach Joseph. "The environment of being a Christian school, low student to teacher ratio and a strong academics emphasis simply attracts great students and excellent basketball players", adds Coach Joseph.
Already the school is being sought out for participation by high exposure boys basketball tournaments with offers that are usually reserved for schools that are much larger and have been around for much longer which reflects the high regard that the school boys basketball program has achieved.
When asked his prediction about a championship repeat for the 2012-13 season, Coach Joseph stated, "I do not make a prediction to repeat. We are hoping that we will have continued success. We are just a small school with a great facility, a focused on academics and a non-negotiable emphasis on competing for God. We pursue success the right way by focusing on developing better basketball players and, more importantly, better young men. We do things the right way at Gilbert Christian high school."
When asked to address the criticism that Gilbert Christian plays in a Division that does not have the most competitive players, Coach Joseph responded with, "We played Division IV teams throughout the year in the area's tournaments and we were very competitive. We won games and lost games and the games we did loose where by a few points. We have proven that we are a top performing team regardless of the division or tournament that we participate in. There is lot of truth in the high competitive level that exists in the larger divisions and all our respect goes out to the schools in those divisions, however, depending on the game and the day, anybody can win and we have proven that to be the case with us."
As enrollment increases at Gilbert Christian high school expect the school to continue to move up to the more competitive divisions and, make no mistake about it, Gilbert Christian is not hesitant or shy about doing so.
To date, Division I college coaches are calling and Coach Joseph is very active in positioning his players before them. "We do all the necessary things to get the boys known", states Coach Joseph. "It is a responsibility that we take very seriously and we do our diligence to get the boys and their families a next level opportunity."
With a winning record that is evidence of an excellent basketball program and talented players that have already proven themselves in both the high school and club basketball hardwood, Gilbert Christian is poised to continue its dominance and sky high trajectory of success.
A school with 175 students and such a history of success, one cannot help but wonder if there is a higher power behind this success. If you ask Gilbert Christian, they will tell you that there is no doubt about it......hard work and divine intervention are definitely at play.