At Manteo Middle School, it’s a family affair

By on February 15, 2024

2024 Manteo Middle School Championship Team from left: Coach Eddie Simmons, Jalaunis Banks, Logan Larose, Kai McGilberry. Trevor Dobson, LJ Berry, Zaiyden Wheeler, Cardell Battle, Marley Battle, Jeremiah Gibbs, Duvale Banks, Josh Brody, Devon Simmons, Coach Deshawn Banks, Kingzley Banks (Hydration Specialist) (Photo credit: Joel Sutton)
Deshawn Banks and father Eddie Simmons.
Kai McGilberry warming up for the first round of the tournament versus Currituck at MMS. (Photo credit: Andrian Tillett)
Duvale Banks taking a shot at the first round of the tournament versus Currituck at MMS. (Photo credit: Andrian Tillett)
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2024 Manteo Middle School Championship Team from left: Coach Eddie Simmons, Jalaunis Banks, Logan Larose, Kai McGilberry. Trevor Dobson, LJ Berry, Zaiyden Wheeler, Cardell Battle, Marley Battle, Jeremiah Gibbs, Duvale Banks, Josh Brody, Devon Simmons, Coach Deshawn Banks, Kingzley Banks (Hydration Specialist) (Photo credit: Joel Sutton)
Deshawn Banks and father Eddie Simmons.
Kai McGilberry warming up for the first round of the tournament versus Currituck at MMS. (Photo credit: Andrian Tillett)
Duvale Banks taking a shot at the first round of the tournament versus Currituck at MMS. (Photo credit: Andrian Tillett)
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Deshawn Banks is the fourth member of his family to coach an undefeated basketball team

The Manteo Middle School Braves basketball team won its conference tournament on Feb. 7 in Moyock, ending up not only as Athletic Albemarle Conference (AAC) champions, but also sporting an undefeated season record of 14-0.

The team was led by Coach Deshawn Banks and his assistant coach and father Eddie Simmons, and it’s not the first time the Simmons family has taken a Manteo Middle School basketball team to the heights. In fact, every undefeated season in Manteo Middle School was coached by a member of their family.

Banks’ cousin Johnny Tillett began the family legacy in the early 1990s, followed by Banks’ father and older brother Deon Simmons in 2000. Now with the Feb. 7 win over Elizabeth City Middle School, Banks, in his first year as head coach, becomes the fourth member of the family to achieve this accomplishment.

“You know, it’s very exciting that three separate generations have done it. My dad was really excited,” says Coach Banks, adding that it made it even more special having his dad by his side during this team’s run.

“It was a pure joy to have the opportunity to coach along with both of my sons and having the opportunity to coach them, and now having the opportunity to coach my grandchildren,” says Coach Simmons, noting that he has one grandson in each grade—sixth, seventh and eighth—playing on the team while a granddaughter in elementary school is their hydration specialist.

Last year, the Braves won the conference title as well, but finished the season with one blemish—at 13-1. Speaking of this year’s squad, he says, “I knew we had a really good team. But it was just exciting to see how happy the kids were. And the joy on their faces, and the fact that all the work that they had put in and how hard I’ve pushed them, to actually see the results from the work that they put in to get there.”  To instill teamwork, the team’s motto this year has been “run as one.”

With so many undefeated seasons in one family, it begs the question: What’s the secret?

“Very good players and very good assistant coaches,” says Tillett.

Humility runs in the family as Banks agrees that the credit goes to the team. With 13 players, including seven eighth graders and two sixth graders, Banks notes that every member of the team got to play during the season.

“The kids, they’re the ones that put in the work to do it. I gave them the tools and pushed them to get to their goals. But they’re the ones that showed up and put out and practiced and practiced,” he adds.

“Because being a student athlete…they gotta maintain their grades, they gotta go to school, they can’t get in trouble in school. So the kids work extremely hard,” Banks continues, explaining that at the beginning of the season, the team set goals each team member to improve as much as he could. “Each kid set their own individual goal on how they wanted to get better and what they wanted to improve on. And all the kids, they all reached those goals.

Deon Simmons, Banks’ older brother who coached the undefeated season in 1999/2000 with their father, says he’s proud of his brother, noting that an undefeated season is no small feat.

“It was great to watch him doing something that we’ve done in our family before,” he says. “Anytime the team goes undefeated, it’s tougher than what it seems. Because you got to keep the kids focused. And you always have a target on your back when you’re undefeated, so it was a really joyful season to watch and watch him succeed in his quest.”

“Who would have thought,” asks Tillett, “that so many of our family members would go on to do this? I’m so proud of Deshawn and everything he has done.”

And as for what coaching means to their family Tillet says, “Not only is it something we do because we’re passionate about it, but it’s a way to give back to the community. I love Manteo. I grew up there. I think that’s something good we can do, get out there and coach these young kids, and be positive role models, because that’s what kids need.”



See what people are saying:

  • Bob Woodard

    This is “Awesome”, Congratulations Manteo Middle School and Coach Eddie! Very proud of you guys.

    Thursday, Feb 15 @ 1:03 pm