Gator News

Coach Godfrey Drake nets 100th win with Green River College basketball

By Philip Denman, February 9, 2024

Godfrey Drake, GRC's mens basketball head coach, and players

Green River College’s Godfrey Drake reached a career milestone after earning his 100th victory as the Gator’s head men’s basketball coach, making him the fastest coach in GRC’s men’s basketball history to reach 100 wins.

But as the shot clock ran down in GRC’s recent 87-58 victory over Centralia College on Jan. 27, 2024, Coach Drake’s focus was on his team’s performance rather than any records.

“I honestly wasn’t paying attention to that record until a parent brought it up to my attention,” Coach Drake said. “It caught me off guard and took me back to the beginning and just how much the team had to buy in to get here.”

In his six seasons leading the Gators, Coach Drake has guided the team to three NWAC Championships and is on their way to a fourth, an impressive turnaround from his first season at GRC in 2017 when the program finished 4-10 in the Northwest Athletic Conference and 6-22 overall. But for Coach Drake, victory on the court wasn’t the only way to win as a team.

“We knew we were going to be a young team and needed to build a winning culture amongst our student athletes and a brand to rally around,” Coach Drake recalled. “People told me this was a dead-end job, but I knew it was a diamond in the rough.”

Their answer to the pressure? The moniker “Swamp Boys” and a call for “5G strength and connectivity” on and off the court.

According to Coach Drake, the team adopted the name “Swamp Boys” after seeing a “Welcome to the Swamp” sign outside of the gymnasium and realizing "the Swamp” represented the challenges they faced. Rather than running from adversity, the team doubled down.

Godfrey Drake, GRC's mens basketball head coach, and playersThis is exemplified by the team’s Five Gs. A play of 5G cellular technology, the exercise underscores the teams need for strength and connectivity. Each year the team picks words or phrases that start with the letter G that they feel represent their commitment to the team and each other. This year the team picked: Gator > Me, Great Health, Game Changer, Gallant, Gratitude.

The success did not come easy or overnight, but by the end of his second year, Coach Drake had led the Gators to a historic 20-win season, finishing second place in the NWAC West Region and making it to the Elite 8 of the NWAC Championship.

That 2018-2019 season set the tone and the Swamp Boys never looked back, finishing each season since with winning records, and returning to the NWAC Championship during 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons.

With 17 wins already under their belt and 7 games left in the 2023-2024 season, Coach Drake hopes to continue that trend of competitive post-season play. Those interested in rooting for the Gators in their final games can find game times and locations at GRC Men's Basketball Schedule.

While the winning is great, Coach Drake emphasized it’s not what he takes most pride in. That comes from watching his players grow up and take the lessons they learned on the court into the real world.

Coach Drake points to former GRC guard Alex Sommerfield as an example of such success. Following his career in Gator Green, Alex was recruited by and saw success with for the University of Alaska Fairbanks before being named head coach of Whatcom Community College men’s basketball. Later this year, Coach Drake will officiate Alex’s wedding.

“These are special guys, they’re family, they’re grown men doing real world stuff like getting married, starting families, and starting their own careers,” he said.

Outside of Green River College, Coach Drake is very familiar with the Kent and Auburn area having spent four seasons (2012-2016) as the head coach at Kentlake HS and four seasons (2008-2012) as an assistant at Green River under head coach Tim Malroy.

Off the court, Coach Drake serves as the Dean of Students for the Auburn School District, a role he believes coaching helped prepare him for.

“There’s a lot of similarities, honestly. There's not a lot of difference between the kid in the back of the class struggling and a hesitant player who hasn’t found their confidence. It’s finding the way to connect so the kids feel heard and supported.”

An outstanding player in his own right, Coach Drake was a member of the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles team where he graduated with a B.S. in Sports Administration. Most recently he finished his master's degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Univ of Concordia, Irvine.

Coach Drakes resides in Bonney Lake, WA with his wife Michelle and his three children Alayah, Dakari and Malia.

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