Coaching Culture at Westminster

John Brinkmann, ’12 (center), played baseball for Westminster College and is now the varsity baseball coach at Fulton High School. He is pictured here with two of his players, future Blue Jays Alec Fleetwood, ’21 (left), and Devin Masek, ’21 (right). Fleetwood and Masek are also Westminster legacies. PHOTO BY JOHN TUTHILL, FULTON HIGH SCHOOL, ’18.

BY BRITTANY MORRIS 
STAFF WRITER

While attending a sporting event at William Woods University or Fulton High School, you might notice some familiar faces. Many of the coaches in the area, such as John Brinkmann, ’12, varsity baseball coach at the high school, and James Hays, head basketball coach at William Woods, are graduates of Westminster. The alumni revealed that it was their Westminster coaches who inspired them to pursue their career paths.


John Brinkmann is a 2012 graduate of Westminster. He currently works for Fulton High School as the baseball coach and a social studies teacher. During his years at Westminster, Brinkmann played baseball for Scott Pritchard and then coached alongside Pritchard after graduating.

While under Pritchard’s wing, Brinkmann watched and learned.

“Pritchard taught me how to prepare for a game as a coach,” Brinkmann said.

Not only did Pritchard teach Brinkmann, but he also inspired Brinkmann with his passion.

“Being around baseball every day with Pritchard, who loved the game as much as I did, really made me want to continue in the sport by being a coach,” Brinkmann said.

“Coach Mitchell showed me how to lead. My basketball experience at Westminster really helped me to mature.” –James Hays, ’12

james hays

Former Blue Jay basketball player James Hays, ’12. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM WOODS ATHLETICS

James Hays is currently the head men’s basketball coach at William Woods. He graduated from Westminster in 2012 and played basketball under current coach, Matt Mitchell. In addition to coaching, Mitchell is also a professor and taught a few of Hays’s classes, as he earned a coaching minor from the college.

Hays said, “He [Mitchell] was one of the professors I had who absolutely prepared me.”

Coach Mitchell served as Hays’ mentor on the floor as well as in the classroom.

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Matt Mitchell is the head men’s basketball coach at Westminster. PHOTO BY BRITTANY MORRIS

Thanks to Mitchell, Hays was ready to be a mentor to other students by the time he walked across the graduation stage.

“Coach Mitchell showed me how to lead. My basketball experience at Westminster really helped me to mature,” Hays said.

Kasey Gatson played basketball for Westminster’s former coach, Tracey Braden. She graduated in 2016 and is currently working for William Woods, serving as the graduate assistant coach for the women’s basketball team.

kasey Gatson

Former Blue Jay basketball player Kasey Gatson, ’16. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIAM WOODS ATHLETICS

For Gatson, it was the appreciation Braden showed for people that inspired her to coach.

“Coach Braden cared about us as people first, and players second,” she said.

Gatson learned that it isn’t all about talent; morals are just as vital.

“Like her [Braden], I wanted to coach character as well as basketball skills.”

While Brinkmann, Hays and Gatson have taken different paths and don’t coach the same sports, one thing remains the same: their inspiration for coaching. Whether it was preparing them to coach or teaching them how to grow as a person, Pritchard, Mitchell and Braden exemplified how to lead, while inspiring their players to do the same. Westminster coaches have a lasting impact on their players, guiding them both on and off the floor.

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