A Winning Mindset

Coach Ed Corporal of the Frederick Flying Cows Models How Perseverance and Determination Can Help to Overcome Any Obstacle

Article by Kristen Wojdan

Photography by Chris Martin of Convoy Creatives

Originally published in Frederick Lifestyle

During his growing-up years in Kansas City, Kansas, Ed Corporal first fell in love with basketball as the ball boy for the Kansas City Kings. He managed the locker room and bench for the visiting teams and made sure the players and coaches had everything they needed.

His older brother played for the NBA team, so Ed had the chance to sit around some of his "childhood idols." He recalled, "I actually had the chance to be around Dr. J, Magic Johnson and George Gervin—those old-school athletes. They used to come to my house because my mom cooked dinner for them when they were in town. To me, they were just regular people."

Ed played basketball in high school and college; but, it wasn't until years later when he was living in Maryland that he earned the title, "Coach." with a team of fifth graders through a Parks & Recreation league. What started out as a fun way to serve the community became his passion and calling.

An impressive 38 years later, Coach Ed Corporal is the winningest coach in The Basketball League (TBL), a professional Men's basketball league that launched in the U.S. in 2018, and has expanded to over 49 teams as of 2023. He has been with TBL since its inception and has led his teams to a winning season each year. 

In 2021, Coach Ed led the Enid Outlaws to win the TBL National Championship. That team holds the TBL record for the most wins in a season (30-3) and the most wins in the regular season (22-2). "Hopefully we will do that same thing here in Frederick. That’s the plan," Coach Ed explained.

Coach Ed will lead the Frederick Flying Cows in their inaugural year in TBL. During the process of bringing the team to Frederick, owners Michael Witt and Tony Mazlish met Coach Ed when they were accidentally sitting at his table. When Coach Ed discovered the aspiring TBL owners were from Maryland, they had an instant connection, because his five children and six grandchildren all live there. He wanted to live closer to his family.

After a few phone calls, "They came to Oklahoma to see me coach; then we talked and the rest is history," he recalled. "For years I drove by Frederick...In my wildest dreams, I never realized I would end up here. It has come full circle. I started my coaching career in Maryland...My kids and grandkids are here. It’s the perfect fit." 

"I love Frederick! It reminds me of Kansas...Frederick has a Midwest feel. People are very nice and hospitable...I love the City of Frederick…I love the shops and restaurants...The people are great!" Coach Ed exclaimed. "And, the energy level for the team coming here is wonderful. People are opening their arms...I’ve been doing this for seven years and this has been the most receptive city that I’ve experienced. I’m really looking forward to it!"

In this season of celebration and excitement, Coach Ed is also celebrating his ten-year anniversary as a stroke survivor. He feels that perseverance and determination (what he calls a "winning mindset") were never more important than when we suffered two massive strokes in September 2013. 

"I’m a walking miracle. I’m not even supposed to be here," Coach began. "Ten years ago, I suffered two massive entire left side was paralyzed. I couldn’t walk or use my left arm...Everything went wrong...The doctors didn’t think I was going to make it."

At the time, Coach Ed was coaching a high school team; he realized he had to lead by example, "because everything I had ever talked to my players—and my own kids—about was perseverance, fighting through adversity, being mentally tough, etc. I had to do that now. I was very driven."

Coach Ed had a long road to recovery as he lived at Lawrence Hospital for four months and then at a rehab center for an additional two months. "The one thing that kept me going was that I was doing work at KU (Kansas University)," he shared. "The coach invited me to come to practice...That gave me some hope...I was in a wheelchair for about two years...Going through the recovery after the stroke was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I wanted my kids to be proud. I worked hard because I wanted to show them that no matter what obstacles are thrown at you, you can fight through it. They were my inspiration."

Once he was able to move around, he improved his mobility each year. Coach Ed saw another stroke survivor slowly walking and thought, “If I can just do that, I will be okay. Then, once I started to stand and then walk, everything took off...I was driving, coaching and able to go back to my normal life. Maybe not as fast, but I was able to do everything I did before. I have limitations sometimes, but it never stops me."

Coach Ed was able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding and dance with his youngest daughter at her quinceañera, about a year after the stroke. "These are some of my proudest moments," he shared. 

"I have come a long way…I’m limping a little bit, but I’m walking." He continued, "I was in a wheelchair and now I’m walking and driving. I don’t take these things for granted. I’m just thankful that God still had some things He wanted me to do."

Coach Ed reflected on his coaching journey, "Growing up in the NBA and being around the players…prepared me to be a coach...Coaching is my calling...It’s about more than basketball; it’s about relationships...I get great satisfaction seeing guys grow up and reach their goals and come back with a family and they have done well...Of course, we want to win. But, I want to see each of them win as a whole person."

"Hopefully how I lead my life makes a difference.” He elaborated, “I always tell my players that what I went through with the stroke doesn’t stop me or define me. It’s what I do with it…I tell them, the kids are watching you. You’re impacting some of these kids’s lives and you don’t even know it. I tell them they are here with me for a reason."

When asked what he wants people to know about him, Coach Ed shared, "Not only am I a survivor of a massive stroke, I’m a people person. I love people. I’m a family man. I love my family. I’m a man of God. I wouldn’t be here without God getting me through it and a lot of prayers…I’m thankful to be coaching, to be doing what I love. I’m excited to be a part of this community and work with the players. I’ve come full circle and I’m excited."

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