TAYLOR COUNTY—Most coaches, players, and parents know that to excel in athletics, extra time must be put in the gym, on the field, or in the weight room during the offseason.
Since coaches are not allowed to work with their players during this time except for the three-week summer live period in July, athletes must look elsewhere for additional training. Fortunately for the residents of Taylor County, that extra time is being provided by a local training specialist.
Nick Bonnett, a 2009 East Fairmont graduate and former Fairmont State basketball player, has dedicated his past two summers and falls to training girls of various ages in our county on advanced basketball skills and proper conditioning. His journey has led him from playing basketball, first at East Fairmont High School and then at Fairmont State University in 2011 and 2012 under former head coach Tim Murphy, to assisting with various camps, academies, and schools.
In 2015 and 2016, Bonnett started working individually with players at Nate Smith’s Basketball School in Morgantown. Nate Smith, after a stellar career at Morgantown High School and then again at the Division 1 level at American University, eventually opened up his school in Morgantown to provide advanced instruction for aspiring players.
After working at Nate Smith’s Basketball School for two years, Bonnett then found himself as the next head coach of the St. Francis (Morgantown) Middle School boys’ basketball team, a position he currently still holds. While coaching that team, Bonnett has still made time to come to Grafton and establish the Friends of Taylor County Basketball, his program for girls entering grades 5-12.
Bonnett provides training four days a week for two hours each day. Girls from grades 5-8 grade will train for two days while girls in grades 9-12 will train on the other two days. Multiple gymnasiums in the county have been utilized as well. Bonnett said that he loves what he does and he can already see the results that his program is yielding.
“Over the past two summers the girls in our program have improved tremendously,” Bonnett stated. “They come into the gym every day ready to work. Last year we had 20 girls come out and this year we have 28. The high school staff and myself are working together to create an enthusiastic culture for girls’ basketball in Taylor County.”
Andrew Moore, the head coach of the Grafton Lady Cats’ varsity basketball team, has been a beneficiary of Bonnett’s offseason regimen and had nothing but positives to say about Bonnett and the Friends of Taylor County program. “Nick has done a great job of providing offseason training for our girls,” Moore said. “He is helping change the culture of girls’ basketball in Taylor County. He is a great teacher of the game and an overall asset for us.”
Moore’s assistant at the high school, Becky Kittle, endorsed Moore’s praise and added some of her own.
“Nick has helped us grow our program by providing an offseason skill development program,” explained Kittle. “He has invested a lot of time evaluating players’ skills sets and creating drills and individual workouts to strengthen each player’s weakness areas. His dedication has allowed Taylor County’s basketball players to improve significantly and will help them compete at a higher level when the season rolls around.”