In His Glory Days: Anthony Poullard

DBHS history teacher has over ten years of experience with basketball.

Ryan Chae, Sports Editor

Overweight at age 13 and having no prior experience of any sports, Diamond Bar High School history teacher Anthony Poullard made a single decision that would change his life forever: trying out for Suzanne Middle School’s basketball team.

Fast forward over ten years and countless basketball games later, Poullard is now revisiting his high school basketball roots, but this time as the head coach for the junior varsity basketball team.

Photo Courtesy of ANTHONY POULLARD
Anthony Poullard spent four years playing for Walnut’s basketball teams.

As an eighth grader, Poullard never played any recreational sports, only utilizing  recess as an outlet for  his love of basketball.

“Growing up, I was very much into recess, and one thing I always liked was basketball,” Poullard said. “At the time, the one player I wanted to be like was Shaquille O’Neal.” 

Despite his limited time  playing the sport, Poullard made the team,  though he claims that he wasn’t as athletic as some of his teammates.

“I was surprised I made the team because I wasn’t as in shape as some of the other guys and not necessarily as athletic either,” Poullard said.

Poullard struggled to keep up with his teammates as he was still getting accustomed  to playing for a team while also trying to shed weight. Yet no matter how much he struggled, Poullard said he kept working hard, believing that his efforts would soon pay off.

By high school, his determination would be rewarded as Poullard made the freshmen basketball team for DBHS’s rival, Walnut High School. However, his hopes of playing high school ball were nearly derailed when his doctor diagnosed him with Osgood-Schlatter disease, a condition in which the knee grinds against other  bones during high intensity exercise.

“My doctor told me that if I want this pain to go away, I have to stop exercising and should definitely not play basketball,” Poullard said. “I really did like the game and I didn’t want something like [the disease] get in my way. When you see these other professionals go through what they go through, it was inspiring.”

But Poullard was willing to go through any pain if he meant he could play the sport he loves. And for the next four years, Poullard spent his time in Walnut’s basketball program, playing for all three levels of high school basketball. As a Mustang, Poullard was primarily a big, guarding down low and boxing out, but as he got older, the competition got bigger. By his senior year, Poullard had to defend shifty wings and guards while he spent his time at the post. He has countless  memories at Walnut, from dropping a career high 30 points and earning the praise of the opponent’s coach to dunking as a sophomore in front of the varsity team. One memory that he  most fondly remembers was not one of individual success, but that of a team when the Mustangs won the Arroyo Tournament in his senior year, the first during his time on the varsity team. Poullard saw it as a culmination of the hard work he had put in as a player.

“After all the work you put in for four years, you get rewarded. You actually come out triumphant and victorious. Whatever contributions it was, whether as a starter or guy coming off the bench, it was great,” Poullard said.

After graduating in 2008, Poullard attended UCI and continued playing basketball in intramural leagues. During his six years as an undergraduate and a graduate, Poullard continued his involvement in basketball, winning two tournaments while also personally training others.

This year  Poullard switched from the role of the player to the position of a coach as he was named the JV head coach for the boys’ team. As a coach, Poullard hopes he can use the sport as a way to positively influence the lives of his players.

“I believe basketball and sports in general should be used as a tool where you can be competitive but also grow as a person, learn to mature and build character. You can learn all these skills that translate to the real world and real life.”