To say a stubborn streak runs through the male side of the Showalter clan, is like saying Duke and North Carolina don't get along very well during the basketball season.
It's the simple truth.
However, Germantown boys basketball coach Steve Showalter and his 2010 NOW All-Suburban selection son, Zak, have an agreement. That what's said and done during a practice or a game stays in the gym and does not ride home with them.
Or if it does make it to the car, it does not come out of the garage and into the house.
Because if the latter happens, they both know there will be heck to pay.
"If it does, mom gives both of us a timeout," chuckled Zak.
But for all of its slight contentions (and Zak said there has been a lot less of those in this his second season on varsity), there has been a certain spark of creation in their friction because Zak's talented sophomore class, working with a heady and accommodating upperclassmen group, helped turn what was a certain rebuilding year into a memorable North Shore title-winning campaign.
"We knew we had a lot of work to do going into this year," said Zak, "but we also knew that we had enough skill to win a lot of games (18 it turned out to be). We just had to work hard everyday in practice."
Dad gets on him
And he knew where at least a little of that work ethic would come from.
"It's been easier for us this year than last," Coach Showalter said, "and that's saying something, because he's got a lot of Showalter in him. Sometimes that's not always a good thing because we can both be stubborn and bull-headed.
"But sometimes it's a good thing, and we've come to an understanding that he is going to take the brunt of the coaching because of his talent. I can't get on the 10th man, because it won't do us as much good. He's (Zak) expected to do more and he understands that."
That's not always easy.
"When practice is over, sometimes I don't want to talk about things and he does," Zak said. "We both know what we want and sometimes we butt heads, because we've both played a hundred million games in our lives and have a lot of basketball IQ. Sometimes I think I know more than he does, but in the end I really know that he does. I definitely get my shooting touch from him, but I think I'm a better athlete than he was."
As noted, things did work out in the end.
Zak averaged more than 17 points a game and was a unanimous choice on a deep and talented All-North Shore Conference first team for the co-champion Warhawks.
The expectations started to rise in this rebuilding year after the now legendary 19-point second-half comeback against eventual state semifinalist Marquette in December.
"We knew we could be good," Zak said. "We just needed that boost in confidence. We just didn't want a lot of people saying that this would be a down year. We just had to come out and play like we could."
And a big key to the Warhawks success (15 wins in their last 18 games) was the communication Zak had with long-time friend, classmate and point guard Josh Mongan.
"We've been playing together since fifth grade," he said. "We're both each others toughest defender in practice."
The pair, who had seen mere minutes last year off the bench along with junior Malcolm Bowers, worked together with rapidly improving seniors like Jordan Infield ("A great leader," said Zak) and Jake Keefe to build a real team - a team that made it one of the most enjoyable seasons ever, for both Showalters.
"I'm not going to push it to the point where I ruin the relationship I have with my son," coach Showalter said, "and I'm going to continue to work on that aspect as well as the coach-player relationship. I don't have to put him down to prove that I'm a good coach."
"He (Zak) knows how to play. He makes suggestions and we really need him out there all the time."
He would insist on it.
Like father like son
WHAT: Germantown's Zak Showalter makes NOW All-Suburban team; coach and father, Steve, earned honors in 2007
TOUGHNESS COUNTS: Zak achieved all that he did this year despite having a breathing condition that causes his vocal cords to close more tightly the more stress that he's under. It's an illness that can't be attended to with surgery or with medication. Doctors have told the family, however, that he will likely grow out of it, said his father. Compound the fact that he played the last several games on a painful sprained ankle, including the North Shore Conference title game against Homestead, and the kid's toughness is not to be called into question.
"Like I said, Showalters tend to be stubborn," Steve said with a laugh.
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