VANDALIA — In high school basketball, change in assistant coaches is nothing out of the ordinary. Coaches leave for a higher levels, take jobs in different districts, and some simply decide the long hours aren’t worth the meager pay.
What is unusual, however, is having an assistant coach whose resume includes a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Enter Dee Capers, the Butler freshman coach and assistant varsity coach.
Capers, who played at Trotwood-Madison, spent three years touring with the Globetrotters and hopes that his experience can inspire others to live their dream.
From as early as age three he told his mother he wanted to play professional basketball. That journey began after he graduated high school and spent two years at Allan Hancock College in California. He then transferred to Heidelberg University in Tiffin where he played and earned a degree in sports management.
Then came the phone call.
While working at a shoe store, Capers got a call asking if he had a passport and, after replying no, a second phone call asking if he would expedite an application for one.
Two days later, he was on a plane beginning a three-year journey
“I was shocked more than anything to just get the phone call from them,” said Capers. “I grew up on the Harlem Globetrotters every year when they came to the Nutter Center. Then, 10 years later to get that call to go on tour with them was like a dream. I had told my mom I wanted to sign a professional contract since I was three years old and my dream came true.”
Capers spent three seasons with the Globetrotters and played in some of biggest venues in basketball including Madison Square Garden, the Staples Center, and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
“I think the coolest was Madison Square Garden due to the history and it looks exactly like you see on TV,” he said. “I’m also a little biased toward Cleveland because I’m a Cavs fan. It gave me the chance to play in those big arenas but also travel the world.”
Capers also traveled internationally with the team including trips to China, New Zealand, and Australia.
“I never thought a kid from Dayton, Ohio would travel the world and play basketball,” said Capers. “I enjoy being a person who lived his dream and I want to take that and be a motivation to the kids who are our future.”
Last season Capers coached the Morton Middle School seventh grade team. He was elevated to the freshman team this year by coach DJ Wyrick.
“DJ is a good guy,” said Capers. “He knows the game really well from coaching at the collegiate level. I’m blessed that he gave me an opportunity to join his staff.”
Wyrick said Capers brings experiences and talent to coaching that earns him immediate respect with players.
“The ability to play, and play at a high level, gives him immediate respect and credibility with the kids,” Wyrick said. “He worked with our seventh grade last year and did a phenomenal job with them.
“I tell the kids that if they respect the game, take care of business, and do things the way they are supposed to – the game has done a lot for a lot of people. Dee has been all over the world, I’ve been to Germany and all over the United States because of basketball – experiences I would never have gotten. The game can take you a lot of places and do a lot for you if you respect it and take care of business.”
Capers is currently a teacher in the Huber Heights school district and hopes to continue coaching.
“I feel like I have wisdom and knowledge at some level to possibly help make someone better or maybe just have a kid look at me and think ‘Maybe I can do it.’”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.