Phil Helmuth takes over Booker Nation

Phil Helmuth. Courtesy Photo.

Phil Helmuth. Courtesy Photo.

12/2014
DAVID GAULMAN

After some much needed rest and relaxation, Phil Helmuth returns to the bench as he takes over the Booker High tornadoes as their new head coach this season.

“It was nice to have some time off then sit behind Gary Clark, to see the game from a different angle as an assistant,” Helmuth said.

After 17 years as the head coach and 10 years as the athletic director at Sarasota Christian, Helmuth looks to add another chapter to his polished coaching résumé.

“I’m excited, I look at the situation with a little disbelief,” Helmuth said. “I would have never pictured this situation a few years ago, but God put me in the position and I’m ready.”

Helmuth compiled a 297-170 record at Sarasota Christian, only having two losing seasons in his 17 year stint.

“I had a great run there, I think the year before I took over, the team went 3-22 and we were able to turn that into a solid team in the area,” Helmuth said.

The transition from a small private Christian school to a large public school can be a challenge, but it’s one Helmuth is ready to take on.

“Honestly I didn’t know what to expect when I got here, I was a little cautious because I knew very little about public schools, but Booker is an amazing institution,” Helmuth said.

Following his departure from Sarasota Christian, Helmuth received a phone call from Gary Clark asking him to join his staff, before ultimately taking over.

“Yeah, I mean he (Clark) asked if I was interested and at the time I was a bit reluctant thinking I should just take some time to myself but after praying and speaking to my wife I decided it was a great opportunity,” Helmuth said.

Helmuth takes over a program with great tradition and a culture of winning.

“I think I put more pressure on myself than anyone else can, I challenge myself to be the best and I feel if I can meet that challenge I’ve done my best,” Helmuth added.

It didn’t take long for the 54-year old to see the difference in athleticism between his new and old school.

“I mean I was like WOW, I’ve really got weapons at my disposal,” Helmuth said. “I coach to what my roster looks like, each season the dynamic changes and that’s no different in that way here.”

Book nation isn’t just another community, it’s the community of Sarasota. It’s special, and once you are a part of it, it’s for life.

“The support around here is amazing, and it goes both ways,” Helmuth said. “I root for each team and want us all to win.”

While wins and loses is ultimately how most from the outside determine success, Helmuth says his two goals have always stayed the same for his team.

“Just build great character guys and get them to reach their full potential, winning will take care of itself,” he said.

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