By Monique Bowman, Digital Media
“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
Those are the words from the protagonist in the finale in the Broadway musical, “Hamilton.”
Ben Waterman was an assistant men’s basketball coach under Fred Taylor, and the first African American to coach basketball in the Big Ten Conference. Ben spent six decades “planting seeds” of social significance and personal impact on the players on his high school and college teams.
Ben apparently made the same impact at home, as his son Mitchell also took up coaching and now so will his granddaughter, Makayla.
If you are a follower of Ohio State athletics, Makayla Waterman may be a familiar name. She is heading into her final playing season for the Buckeye women’s basketball program and is planning to walk in the coaching footsteps of her grandfather and father.
“I definitely had a lot more education about basketball than most. We were forced to watch videos of drills and read books about drills,” Makayla recalled. “It’s interesting because my dad is still to this day the toughest coach I’ve had, even coming to college. But I also think that was to my advantage.”
Being on Ohio State’s campus was nothing new to Makayla when she arrived as a freshman. As a member of the Fairmont High School girls basketball team near Dayton, Ohio, she played an essential role in the Firebirds winning the 2013 Division I Girls Basketball State Championship in Columbus. She recorded 24 points and 11 rebounds in the title game.
Makayla had offers from Duke and Purdue, but it was the convergence of family and personal history that factored into her becoming a Buckeye student-athlete.
“Ohio State has been on our whole family’s heart for a long time, so coming back here in high school and now playing here in college is an honor,” Makayla said. “My grandfather passed away before I got to college, but my dad would always put in my ear, ‘he would love to see you play here.’
“We have history here and hopefully I can continue that history. It’s cool to be able to say that he coached here and now I’m playing here.”
There were a lot of unknowns waiting for Makayla and the Buckeye women’s basketball program heading into this season. Fans are seeing many new faces on the court, as just four players from last year return to the team. With these new challenges, there is opportunity for Makayla to further develop her leadership skills and coaching prowess.
“I’ve learned a lot of patience. The past four years, it’s been veteran teams that already knew the stuff,” Makayla explained. “I expected people to get it because I got it. We have a different team this year, so I’m focusing on my patience and understanding.”
Being a coach’s daughter and granddaughter, Makayla says she’s “always had that coach’s mindset,” but adding in what she’s learning in her coaching master’s program, she notes that it’s all coming together for her. She’s also reflecting on the different coaching styles she’s experiences to incorporate in her own style.
“My dad is very knowledgeable and always wants to know why that person doing what they’re doing. I try to do that a lot, because sometimes they don’t know or just do what they’re told. I think that helps if you know why. I think that’s a big thing that I picked up from him—always asking questions and wanting to know from people that are higher up than me.”
Another coaching style Makayla observes is that of Buckeye head coach Kevin McGuff.
“Coach McGuff is a really laid back kind of coach. He expects us to get work done on the court and in the classroom. Certain tactics—like continuous yelling and criticizing—sometimes that doesn’t work, especially for young women. I think he’s really good about finding that medium and that’s something I’ll take with me.”
Makayla is already earning positive reviews from Coach McGuff, saying, “She has a great feel for the game and she has the right temperament and personality. She’s also a good communicator, which is a big part of coaching. I think she has a really bright future in coaching.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Makayla wants to coach at Ohio State when her time as a student-athlete is done. It was a seed planted by her grandfather and a dream tended by her father.
Soon, it’ll be Makayla’s turn to tend to the Waterman coaching legacy.