Welcome ‘coach Carter’: team adjusts to acting coach

Volunteer coach Zachary Remis has stepped in during the search for an interim.

Matt Perkins

On a mid-February team trip to Winston-Salem, N.C., Minnesota’s men’s tennis team enjoyed a trip to the movies.

Team members saw “Coach Carter,” starring Samuel L. Jackson as a controversial high school basketball coach who benches his players for failing to keep their grades up.

Volunteer coach Zachary Remis was on that trip.

Two and a half weeks later, Athletics Director Joel Maturi named Remis acting coach following the suspension of coach David Geatz and assistant coach Adam Cohen for possible NCAA rules violations.

As for the players, they like to call Remis, a former assistant basketball coach at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., “coach Carter.”

“The team likes to joke around about how I’m not short-tempered,” Remis said.

So while the movie coach benched his players, Remis got his position while others were benched.

During the NCAA investigation, the team will look to Remis and senior captain Avery Ticer for support until an interim coach can be found.

“He’s done a fantastic job of letting us continue our roles we had with coach Geatz,” Ticer said. “He’s trying to allow us to just play tennis.”

Remis, who also coached tennis at St. John’s and the College of St. Benedict, said Ticer has been an immense help in his transition to greater coaching responsibilities.

“Before all of this, he worked more on individual goals,” Remis said. “Afterwards, he really stepped back and became a vocal leader while leading by example in a mature, not-in-your-face manner.”

Remis said Ticer’s leadership abilities have really helped the team focus because the Gophers have had a tough-enough time playing tennis without having to deal with the off-court distractions.

Trouble winning the doubles point has plagued the Gophers along with inconsistent performances at Nos. 2 and 3 singles.

“The No. 2 singles is such an elite spot,” Remis said. “As for doubles, we just aren’t any good at all right now.”

The 49th-ranked Gophers are 2-7 on the season, including a pair of losses during the weekend in their first duals without Geatz and Cohen.

But like the movie coach, Remis refuses to give up on his team’s abilities on and off the court.

“We are one of the more mentally tough teams in the NCAA right now,” he said.

Mental toughness is a hot commodity for Minnesota as it heads into Big Ten play in the coming weeks while juggling the off-court commotion.

Remis said he and the Gophers are remaining optimistic about the investigation, which is scheduled to have preliminary results sometime in the next few weeks.

“It’s not just wishful thinking at this point,” Remis said. “I’m fully confident in (Geatz and Cohen) coming back to the program.”

But in the meantime, “coach Carter” will try to help the team move forward.