It takes a special breed to serve as an assistant high-school basketball coach for 11 years.
Though Roy Peake falls into that "special" category, he's a cut above your average assistant.
Just ask Evans Knights coach Kevin Kenny.
"He's a valuable tool to have at my disposal," Kenny says. "He contributes to game strategy and coaching decisions. The players respect him. They know he's knowledgable about basketball."
Those attributes could be applied to plenty of assistant coaches. There's something else that separates the longtime Evans assistant from the rest of the crowd.
Evans coaches Roy Peake (left) and Kevin Kenny watch the action at a recent game. Peake was an unpaid
assistant for nine of his 11 seasons with Kenny.
Photo by Mike Howell
For nine of his 11 seasons under Kenny, Peake was never paid a dime. He is driven by his devotion to the game, and in this case "driven" has a double meaning.
Peake lives in Hephzibah, but he makes countless trips to Columbia County to help with the Knights. He real job is in security at Savannah River Site, and he swaps schedules with fellow employees to be on the sideline when Evans hits the court.
His sick time and vacation leave are coordinated so he can be there at tip-off time. He rarely misses a practice or game, which is noteworthy considering the Knights have competed in an Atlanta-area region for four straight seasons.
"Whenever I'm off work I spend my time out here," Peake said before a recent game at Evans. "When I started out, I didn't intend it to be full time."
For Peake, it all started in 1992 when Kenny was basketball coach at Hephzibah High School.
"I didn't have an assistant coach, and he asked if I needed some help," Kenny recalled. "He played basketball with my brother at Hephzibah, so I knew him. He was a really great athlete, a serious competitor and he played very hard."
Peake has been Kenny's right-hand man ever since. When Kenny took over as head coach at Evans in 1997, Peake came along.
The assistant's specialty is working with the big men, and he provides input on defensive schemes. His philosophy is substance over style.
"I like the game to be simple, and just want them to execute and play with intensity," Peake said. "That's kind of an extension of the way I played. I wasn't fancy. I had to play hard for whatever I got."
Kenny gives Peake the freedom to voice his opinion, and the two coaches always seem to be on the same page.
"We rarely disagree. We think alike when it comes to basketball," Kenny said. "It's to the point now where we can read each other's mind, as far as what play we'll call or what defense we'll use. We're pretty much in sync."
They have something else in common. Kenny is known for his competitive nature, and though Peake is not a demonstrative coach, the fire is always there.
"I take it personally when we lose," Peake said. "I think about the mistakes, and what we could have done differently. That's what drives us."
He's certainly not in it for the money. For the past two season, Peake has received a supplement from the Evans Athletic Booster Club, but that doesn't make up for the personal sacrifices.
Peake has a wife and Children; the Peakes' third child was born last week. It's not possible to recover lost time with your children, so Peake tries to be home when he can.
"The thing that's hard is coming home late at night," the 37-year-old said. "A couple of years ago, I put some serious thought into giving it up. But when the time came, I just couldn't peel myself away from coaching."
Soon, that rationale could change. With family obligations calling, Peake doesn't know how much longer he'll be Kenny's assistant coach.
But when Peake does ride off into the sunset, he'll have no regrets.
"To me, in the beginning, it was purely basketball. Now I see the other side," he said. "You come to appreciate the kids and how hard they work. You take pride in seeing them become excellent students and productive citizens."
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