By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Cody Apthorpe may be in his first season as the head coach of the Windham boys basketball team, but his connection with the program has roots to even before he was born.
The Apthorpes and Bombers basketball date back decades together and Cody’s opportunity to lead the program is now just another chapter.
A fitting one, too.
For as long as Apthorpe can remember, his life has been spent inside a gym.
Starting all the way back when he was young and would walk from his last class at Katherine Thomas Elementary School straight to the gym, where his dad, Dave, was coaching his practices.
Cody would watch and listen.
And, of course, participate in as many drills as his dad would allow him.
As time moved on, Apthorpe enjoyed a successful high-school career as a 1,000-point scorer and played four years of college baseball at Bowling Green.
In a sense, things have come full circle.
Apthorpe, who spent five years teaching at Rootstown Elementary, is back home in Windham. His father Dave is on his coaching staff and for the first time in 48 years, someone other than Marty Hill is coaching the Bombers.
It is an opportunity that Apthorpe does not take lightly, and he has approached his new role with enthusiasm and an appreciation for what he is taking over.
“I am extremely proud and honored to carry on the legacy the Coach Hill devoted countless hours cherishing,”said Apthorpe, who is now in his second year teaching fifth- and sixth-grade math at Windham. “Basketball has been a longstanding tradtion in Windham that has brought our small town together many times over the years. Many players from the past can vividly remember their team’s record, how far they made it in the state tournament, personal and team statistics, which are all examples of the pride people have developed for our basketball program.”
Apthorpe, who began his teaching and coaching career at Rootstown, where he first coached the seventh-grade girls basketball team. A year later, he took over the seventh grade boys, then spent three years guiding the eighth grade boys.
“My experience coaching at the junior-high level was a very valuable time in my coaching journey,” Apthorpe said. “The largest takeaway was realizing that the Xs and Os of basketball come second to relationships. My first year or two, I spent so much time trying to research and teach different defenses and offenses only to realize that until you have strong relationships with your players, those things really aren’t effective. Until you have formed a bond where your players believe in you, and they know you believe in them, having success on the floor is hard to achieve.”
The mindset correlates to Apthorpe’s belief of doing things the right way.
What that exactly means, Apthorpe admits can be a “loaded phrase,” but is something that can be define dby the culture of a program.
“We have worked hard up to this point of the season to maintain and grow the culture within our program to make sure everyone involved understands our defition of the ‘right way.’ Honest, loyalty, dedication and hard work are staples of many successful teams, families and businesses and are qualities, in my opinion, that should be universal across all parts of life. Sometimes holding each other accountable to them is a painful process, but we discuss the importance of remembering that every individual is important, but not one individual is more important than us.”
Ideas and concepts that Cody probably heard his dad sharing with his teams all those years ago as an elementary-aged kid in the gym.
Job titles may have changed, but a son going to his father for advice never changes.
“I lean on my dad for words of advice, direction and support,” Cody Apthorpe said. “As a kid playing, I would ask him after games what he thought and what I could’ve done better. As a coach, I still find myself asking him the same questions.”
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