Scoring for the Future
Coach Curtis Ekmark gives his team a competitive leap to college.
In just his third year coaching basketball at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix, Arizona, Curtis Ekmark (JD ’92) led his varsity team to win 23 games last year and reach the state championships for the second consecutive year.
But their success on the court pales in comparison to what the players achieved off of it. By the end of the season, eight varsity women had earned full scholarships to play basketball at the college level. Each of the eight is the first in her family to attend college. “These girls are using basketball to further their education,” Ekmark says. Currently, all nine of his varsity players are being recruited. “We put an emphasis on playing for the college level,” he adds.
Off the basketball court, Ekmark is a full-time lawyer at Ekmark & Ekmark, his 16-attorney boutique law firm located in Scottsdale, Arizona. While playing point guard for Marquette University as an undergraduate, Ekmark discovered, “I had a body built for law school.
I had to work at basketball.” After college, Ekmark attended Pepperdine for law school, where he married his wife Meg. Seventeen years ago, they established Ekmark & Ekmark. He got back into basketball when daughter Courtney, now in eighth grade, developed an interest in the sport.
He began coaching her club team for fun, but little did they know that they would win three team AAU National Championships. Local schools took note of their success, and two years ago, the principal of St. Mary’s asked him to sign on as coach. Since then Ekmark has lead the team to great heights. In addition to winning 22 games in a row, his 2009 varsity team was ranked No. 1 in the state before they competed in the state championship. The 2010 team won 23 games and also made it to the state championship.
Suzanne Fessler, principal of St. Mary’s Catholic High School, has attended practices and is impressed by what she sees. “Coach Ekmark has them on quite a regimen of workout and skills practice,” she says. “They are serious on the floor. They work hard from start to finish in practices.”
Ekmark believes the success his teams have had on the court will set them up for success in life. “I believe that you learn life skills through athletics,” he says. In the heat of competition, he reassures his players, “It’s all about communication, effort, and doing things the right way. If we do that, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”