Home for the summer from Stephen F. Austin State University, Campbell, 19, discovered that the best place for a penny-pinching college student to shoot hoops was the COM Gym. Coming for an inexpensive gym membership, the former Santa Fe High School basketball player didn’t expect to find impromptu coaching as well.
While she shot hoops with her sister one day, COM employee Michael Richardson, former University of Texas basketball player, spied her. His coaching instincts kicked in as he suggested, “Put more arc on your shot.”
Campbell adjusted her technique and found it improved her shot’s accuracy and increased the distance from which she could make a shot. She returned often over the next several weeks, and as Richardson had time and on lunch breaks he stopped by to offer suggestions – move around before you take the shot instead of standing still to simulate a game’s frenetic pace, try the play again.
“Whenever I would miss, I’d get frustrated,” Campbell said. “(Richardson would) say, ‘That’s OK. Just say, “I’m going to make the next shot.”’ I think that helped me the most.”
As her game improved, Campbell made the three-hour trip to Nacogdoches to test her skills in tryouts for the women’s basketball team at Stephen F. Austin State. After days of observation and practice with the team, she scored a spot as point guard.
“I was nervous, but with all the practice with Coach Mike I felt confident,” Campbell said. “He improved my game 100 percent over high school.”
While playing professionally overseas in 1994, Richardson began coaching when friends working with youth teams requested he fill in for them. After returning to Texas, he began coaching young players in the Houston area in 1995. His first player blossomed under his direction, and his six friends clamored for coaching. He’s since guided players who play professional basketball overseas and those on college, high school, junior high and elementary teams. He recently taught a weeklong basketball camp at COM for 8 to 13-year-olds.
“I enjoy taking what I’ve learned and passing it on. It’s a good feeling, especially when they love basketball like I do,” said Richardson.
Campbell was an easy student to coach, he said. “She’s a very hard worker and focused. She had potential and desire, and when you have those things, it’s a good combination.”
Campbell is excited to head off to college and add basketball practice to her schedule already filled with softball and academics – she’s pursuing a career as a speech pathologist.
“I feel extremely blessed to have chance to work with Coach Mike,” said Campbell. “I feel like God placed him in my life. I’m always going to be grateful.”