Centerville’s Cupps writes book about a coach’s journey of self discovery

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Brook Cupps interview: Jan. 5, 2022

‘Surrender the Outcome’ partly based on Graham’s 2008 final four team

A poster in Brook Cupps’ office at Centerville High School lists team goals for his boys basketball team from the 2014-15 season: “Be tough, be unified, be passionate, be thankful.”

Those were the goals then. They remain the goals now for the defending state champions who are off to a 7-0 start this season and ranked first in the state poll.

The goals are the core values of Cupps’ program and the backbone of a book he self published last fall: “Surrender the Outcome: The Path to an Impactful Life of Coaching, Leading and Living.” It’s available for purchase on Amazon.com.

The book is fictional but also semi-autobiographical, and anyone who knows Cupps will recognize fast Coach Mick is based on him and Coach Mick’s dad, nicknamed the Silver Fox, is based on his dad Ray Cupps, the former Graham baseball coach, and Coach Z is Dave Zeller, who coached Brook at Graham High School. Later on in the book, it becomes clear the West Lake High School team is based on Cupps’ Graham team that reached the state semifinals in 2008. Cupps coached Graham until taking the job at Centerville in 2012.

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That Graham team remains special for Cupps 14 years later. Four players from the team — Josh Schuler, Austin Jones, Ben Rosenberger and Casey Crable — were among the Graham and Centerville players who wrote testimonials in the back of the book.

“A lot of those kids I still talk to, and it was so cool to see the number of those guys that were at our state championship and final four games last year,” said Cupps, who may be more famous these days as the father of Indiana Hoosiers commit Gabe Cupps. “A lot of them come back and watch Gabe play. He was just a little turd running around all the time back then. It’s all really about the relationships that you build. That’s what you figure out in good seasons, bad seasons. Graham getting to the final four, you went through so many challenges, so much adversity getting there that it just forges those relationships so much more.”

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Austin Jones (21) of Graham grabs head coach Brook Cupps while celebrating a 67-61 win over Cincinnati Taft in a Div. II district final game at University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Staff Photo by Barbara J. Perenic

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

Austin Jones (21) of Graham grabs head coach Brook Cupps while celebrating a 67-61 win over Cincinnati Taft in a Div. II district final game at University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday, February 27, 2008.
Staff Photo by Barbara J. Perenic

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

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Austin Jones (21) of Graham grabs head coach Brook Cupps while celebrating a 67-61 win over Cincinnati Taft in a Div. II district final game at University of Dayton Arena on Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Staff Photo by Barbara J. Perenic

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

Credit: Barbara J. Perenic

Cupps said he’s never been a writer and didn’t tell anyone when he started writing this book during the early days of the pandemic when everyone was stuck at home. He started the book to see if he could do it and often got up at 4:30 a.m. to work on it, sometimes pausing for weeks at a time before getting back to it.

Ryan Hawk, of the Learning Leader podcast, helped him along the way and wrote the foreword. Cupps finished the book before his team won the state championship last March and might have changed the ending if he was sure that was going to happen but decided to stick with his original plan.

The book starts with Coach Mick watching his kids, Dax and Rachel, while trying to watch game film. Rachel can’t sleep and starts crying, and Mick gets frustrated and yells at her. He’s ashamed at his own rage but finds an awareness of his own problems.

“The man I was became crystal clear,” Cupps wrote in Coach Mick’s voice. “I was lost. And the man I wanted to be began to come to light. Although this was the bottom for me, it would be another five years before I had the courage to become the person and the coach I wanted to be.”

The book tells the story of Mick’s transformation, which only comes after he faces criticism from his wife and parents and other coaches. Mick deals with parents complaining about their kids’ playing time, players who care more about themselves than the team but most of all his own problems. He goes through a process of self discovery that leads to him settling on the core values and goals for his program.

Coach Mick’s journey is Cupps’ journey. He finds himself in a better place these days than he did early in his career.

“It’s allowed me to continue coaching,” Cupps said, “because I don’t think I could have sustained the rat race for wins. I got over that. I’ve been been 5-16. I’ve been 26-0. It feels little different, but that relationship you have with those kids doesn’t feel any different. Winning the state championship was awesome, but in 48 hours, it wasn’t any different. It was all about that process that we went through together. That’s more of what I’m able to focus on now.”

Cupps does admit good players win championships — not goals detailed in a book or written on a poster. But the process of winning a championship with those good players becomes easier when you have a healthier approach. The title of the book refers to not worrying about the end results — the wins and the losses — as much as what is learned along the way.

“The title of the book, ‘Surrender the Outcome,’ was big because that’s really when I made the switch from trying to appease everybody else and trying to raise my status as a coach and all that stuff,” Cupps said. “That’s not really what it’s about. Just let that go and focus on helping our guys become more tough, passionate and unified and thankful and growing them as men.”

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