Culbreath: lending a hand to a rebuild projectWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A few years back, I lended a hand to a rebuild project.
In an effort to upgrade the porch on the back of my mom’s house into an actual usable room, we undertook a weekend nearly tearing the porch apart, and building it back up. The original walls were thin and leaky, the original windows were small and inefficient. Long ago, they had replaced the sliding door to the porch with some French doors, but the time had come to make the room match its entryway.
So with a couple of massive picture windows at the ready, we set about taking apart the walls. Tearing out old, failing insulation. Knocking out 2x4s. Everything was out except the load-bearing planks, and then after propping the roof up, we took those out too. Everyone destroyed what was their at their own pace. It was done in a half-day.
The hard part was building back up. Plotting out the layout for the new lumber. Figuring out which pieces went where, so we can accommodate the upgrades. Measuring and cutting drywall for the new, cathedral-style ceiling took planning and brainpower. Putting it into place took manpower and teamwork. Comparatively speaking, it too much longer than the teardown: about 3 days of heavy work to get everything up, with smaller things like siding coming later in the year. But the finished product is far and away better than what we started with: that room is now where the Christmas tree stands each year.
That’s an awfully long set up to draw a metaphor to what’s occurred at Savage Arena this year, but any of you that’s done any remodel project knows the self-satisfaction of a job well done, and you’ve got to think Coach Tod Kowalcyk is brimming with it this season.
With the team winning it’s tenth game in a row on Wednesday night, the Rockets have matched a start to the season that they haven’t had in 15 years. A phenomenal start for a team that was picked to win their division in the preseason. All five starters are averaging double-digit scoring, and players are getting national recognition.
It’s quite a leap from when Coach Kowalcyk came to Toledo in 2010. Try not to think about the 2 seasons under He Who Shall Not Be Named, notching 7 wins in year 1, and 4 wins in year 2 before being chased out of town. Yeah, he didn’t inherit anything great, but boy was the program brought down quickly. Academic issues, team culture issues… it was going to be a long term process building the team back up better than it was before.
And yes, he brought some help with in in Rian Pearon, Julius Brown, and Matt Smith, all transferring in from his old program. The coaching team he assembled picked out the pieces, planned out the rehab, and bit-by-bit, rebuilt the team.
It wasn’t easy, particularly trying to get out from under the APR restrictions. It particularly burned them last year, when the team had tied for the top in the MAC West, but because of postseason ineligibility, were not allowed to progress any further.
This year, however, the final pieces of the puzzle clicked into place, and we’re now seeing the finished product. Upperclassmen leaders, talented underclassmen, a higher educational standard, and an expectation of winning. This is a team that plays smart ball, can adjust when it needs, and doesn’t collapse down the stretch. It’s a group of guys that doesn’t require one superstar, but rather used heavy lifting and teamwork to rebuild the walls and install the windows. And now, their Christmas gift to you, Toledo, is a team that’s already doing great things this year, and will keep doing them the rest of the way.