Brian Cosgriff wants to make one thing crystal clear: "What people don't understand is that players make coaches."
That said, coaches have a lot to do with making players and during his 20 years at Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minn.)
, Cosgriff has not only developed elite talent, he's also won 539 games and seven state titles. This year, Hopkins finished 32-0 with a Minnesota Class AAAA title and the No. 13 ranking in the MaxPreps Top 25.
The combination of all of the above has led Cosgriff to be named the MaxPreps 2018-19 National Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
Video: Final Top 25 girls basketball ranking
See who landed where after last weekend's girls GEICO Nationals.
Past MaxPreps National Coaches of the Year
It didn't take long for Cosgriff to realize that winning wasn't what really mattered. In his third year as head coach — after nine years as an assistant with the boys program — Hopkins won a Minnesota championship, but he realized something was missing.
As he thought about it, it became clear that the final score wasn't as important as the experience that his players had during the season.
"The thing I now emphasize more than anything is that coaching is about relationships," he says. "This isn't about collecting championships."
Cosgriff recalls his own high school experience just down the road in now-closed Golden Valley.
"I can still remember the pasta parties and hanging out with my buddies," Cosgriff said — but he can't remember the team's final record.
One thing, though, that sticks out in his mind during his time at Hopkins is the impact that Leslie Knight had on his team.
"She was the player who established our culture," Cosgriff said. "I remember one playoff game that we played poorly in the first half, and I was hot. My assistants and I talked outside the locker room while the girls were inside, and I was ready to let them know how I felt.
"We walked in and Leslie was in front of them and getting after them, and I turned to my assistants and said "We don't need to say anything.' "
Knight became an All-Big Ten player at Minnesota, and Cosgriff has also coached some other elite talent.
"Nia Coffey (who went to Northwestern and plays in the WNBA) was the best athlete we've ever had, and Paige Bueckers (a junior this year who just committed to UConn) makes everybody around her better," he said, adding he didn't win those 500-plus games just because he had top-shelf Division I talent.
He's still making adjustments ("We did a lot more five-out this year") and the latest state title came with a team that not only had just two seniors, but featured two eighth-graders in the rotation. Though Hopkins will lose two Division I-level players in Angie Hammond and Raena Suggs, his full-court, man press and halfcourt Buzz will be even better with Bueckers and five other rotation players returning.
Unfortunately, Minnesota rules prevent Hopkins from traveling to elite events such as the Nike TOC in Phoenix or the Title IX in D.C., so Cosgriff and his team won't get the national exposure many other coaches and players get — but his success speaks for itself, and now so does the MaxPreps Coach of the Year award.