Local coach uses platform to influence players


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Wayne High School’s basketball coach is using his platform and experiences to help and influence the next generation.

Coach Byron Pickens enjoys sharing what he has learned throughout his life with his team.

“I just enjoy watching them grow,” he says.

This is a relationship that is built over time. His players learn to trust him and rely on him both on and off the court.

Coach Pickens says he has to, “listen to them too. It’s all about knowing your players and what makes them tick.”

With the recent death of George Floyd along with the protests that have been going on across the world Pickens feels a sense of responsibility for his predominately Black team.

Pickens wishes for others to give him a chance to like him or dislike him for his character and not a stereotype.

This conversation has been sparked all over the world.

“We’ve heard a lot about the riots and things like that, but the message that everyone is trying to get out about racial injustice and police brutality, I’m all for people getting to understand that, Pickens says. “I think people live in their own world where if it doesn’t happen to me, that means it isn’t happening. I guess that’s the beauty of the protests and having friends of a different backgrounds than yourself because you’re able to tell what you experience.”

Pickens believes that not every person that wears a badge is labeled as the problem.

He says, “we need police in the world.”

As a coach and a father of two, he is constantly worried about those he surrounds himself with and loves.

“You do your best to make sure they know the right things to do and the right places to be. But unfortunately this is their life that they’re going to live. So there’s always going to be some worry when you’re not around them,” he says.

He believes change is on the horizon and protests are pushing the conversation in the right direction.

“Do I know if we are going to change completely? No I don’t know. And it probably won’t happen that way. But we are taking steps forward to a better world,” Pickens says.

Coach Pickens is entering his second year as Wayne’s basketball coach and is looking forward to the upcoming season with his players.

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