Meet the Coaches: Gary Edwards


Photo by: Contributed Photo

Gary Edwards is committed to returning to his roots leading the FMU men’s basketball team to victory.

From a fateful state game his freshman year of high school, Gary Edwards, head men’s basketball coach at FMU, knew he wanted to be a coach. With a legacy of 14 previous seasons at FMU, 37 years as a head coach in college and 42 years of coaching in total, he truly embodied the coach he always wanted to be.

“From that moment on, I said, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Edwards said. “I think I get a feeling, 27 or 28 nights a year, that not many people get, and I’m not ashamed to say that I am addicted to winning.”

Since his FMU debut in 2006, Edwards has worked to guide his players and lead them to victory. 

“I try to coach as I try to be a father; I think sometimes you have to be tough and sometimes you have to be whatever, you know?” Edwards said. “I have a lot of interests and try to teach my players different things other than basketball. I never wanted to be a coach with just a whistle in the gym and wearing sweatpants.”

He has certainly worked for it, with a legacy of winning at FMU and several tournament appearances in his lengthy career. Even after a disappointing finish last year, Edwards is staying positive and optimistic about the current year and the future of the program.

“After last year, we had, record-wise, the worst season of my career and one I never thought we would have,” Edwards said. “I decided, ‘I’m going back to my roots.’ We are doing exactly what we were doing way back when – my first season as a head coach, back in 1984. And it’s a lot of fun; we are having a lot of success with it. I think the guys are really starting to embrace it.”

Through the years, Edwards adapted to the evolution of basketball and to his countless teams. COVID-19 and the previous season reminded him of the basics, the fundamentals he worked on tirelessly. He changed his coaching style to fit the style of current players, but he has reverted back to old-school tactics to find more success.

“I really enjoy the team that we have this year—it is kind of odd to say that since this has been such an unusual year, and it has been such a challenging year, for everyone,” Edwards said. “But I’m really enjoying working with the guys this year—they respond really well to coaching. I think they want to learn about the game of basketball. I am doing more teaching than I have in the past few years, I think, and I am really enjoying it.”

The fundamentals are a passion for Edwards: he genuinely cares about the foundational skills that make or break a team. This season and the upcoming seasons will focus on basketball basics and the “universal truths” of the game.

Edwards and the players are learning to love the process and embrace the learning experience found in practice and the games.

“I think we have a good attitude about it,” Edwards said. “Every game is like icing on the cake and we feel so fortunate [about] the games we are able to play.”

The basketball team is not the only activity Edwards participates in, however. During the basketball season, Edwards runs a column every Saturday in a Florence newspaper, “The Morning News.”

“Writing and literature have always been a love of mine,” Edwards said. “If I had not gone into coaching, I would have tried to go into journalism.”

His weekly article talks about anything, even though it is located in the sports section. He occasionally talks about the program or his family. Sometimes, he will incorporate humor and discuss life lessons. Edward’s uses his column as a literary outlet, as writing is one of his passions.

“It has been good to let people know me and let people know our programs,” Edwards said. “It has been a blessing, as well.”

The men’s basketball team will continue their season over the next couple of months as they fight for a tournament bid. Catch Edwards and his team at a home game or on a live stream to see them—and the re-established old-school playing—in action.