2009-10 all-area boys basketball team
COACH OF THE YEAR
By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- All the lights in the school were off, except for the ones in the Central gym. There were no teammates, no coaches, no referees, no students sitting in "The Nest." It was just Aaron Heishman and a basketball.
Heishman's team had just lost in the Shenandoah District tournament semifinals, and at 2 a.m. the senior guard had stayed late to work on his shooting. Heishman had a sub-par performance against Luray, scoring only five points in the loss. The Falcons still qualified for the Region B, Division 2 quarterfinals, but Heishman wanted to get the bad taste of a tough night out of his mouth.
"I was upset with myself," Heishman said. "I don't do well with losing. I'm super-competitive. When something happens I always see what I could have done better to help the team. I just go in the gym and I figure if nothing else, I can work a little bit harder so maybe it won't happen again.
"Just prove to myself that I could make a shot. I can't stand it when I don't make shots."
Central coach Roger Wilkins said he wasn't surprised when he noticed the light on in the gym as he left for the night. Heishman, The Northern Virginia Daily's 2009-10 Boys Basketball Player of the Year, has always been a hard worker and done everything he could to improve and help make himself and his teammates better.
"He puts his mind to it and he works harder than anybody I've ever seen to reach the goals that he's set for himself in life," Wilkins said. "That's the biggest thing about Aaron that sets him apart from really anybody I've coached in the past. He doesn't let anything interfere with his goals."
When Heishman started out as a freshman, he mostly just tried to shoot 3-pointers. Over the last three years, he's learned to develop more parts of his game and become a well-rounded player.
By his junior season, Heishman started driving to the basket more and drawing fouls. In the off-season, Heishman worked with Central assistant coach Stuart Leake in the weight room, and the results paid off this year.
Heishman bulked up and was able to drive to the basket more than he had in the past and take even more fouls. Heishman took 122 foul shots, making 80.3 percent of them.
"In a lot of games a big part of his points came from the free-throw line," Wilkins said. "That's a big part of the game. His overall game, and it's because of his strength and conditioning, really, really improved."
Heishman's improved play made a difference in Central's final game of the season. The Falcons started off slowly against Clarke County in the regional quarterfinals. Heishman was struggling with his jumper, as were his teammates. So, Heishman began driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line. He helped Central erase an early 15-point deficit.
The Falcons came back and took the lead in the game, but ultimately fell short in a 66-60 loss. Central finished 13-6 and made regionals for the first time in a number of years.
The program had struggled when Heishman started there as a freshman, and even though losing in the first round of regionals was disappointing, he said he was proud of the Falcons' season.
"I usually don't settle for moral victories, but that was a good moral victory for us and our school," Heishman said of making regionals. "Hopefully for the guys that get to play next year, the juniors and the sophomores, that will be a goal for them to continue to make Central basketball good and get it going again."
Heishman, who finished the season with 17.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, also went over 1,000 points for his career during the season. He said that was one of the highlights of his career.
Heishman, who is undecided on where he wants to play in college, said he was very happy with the career he had with Central.
Wilkins said Heishman is a special player and one who will be greatly missed.
"His character is just outstanding," Wilkins said. "You couldn't find a better man. He just has his head on straight. Aaron is probably one of the few high school basketball players that really has his road set. His future, he has it mapped out. I'll tell you what, he doesn't veer from the map much at all.
"He gives up a lot. He has that road set and he works constantly toward meeting that goal."
After college, Heishman's next goal is to go into the education field. Heishman's mother is an agriculture teacher at Central, and he hopes to follow in her footsteps. He also wants to follow in Wilkins' footsteps and become a basketball coach someday.
"If I know half about basketball that [assistant] coach [Mickey] Clinedinst and coach Wilkins do, then I'll be all right," Heishman said. "I don't think there's any coach in the state that knows more about basketball or cares more about basketball than coach Clinedinst and coach Wilkins. That's one thing that I feel blessed for is that I got to play for them."