SPRINGFIELD -- Antonio Broadway didn't start out as a basketball coach, but growing up in Tallulah and playing for McCall High, he might have known that would change.
"Any given night in Tallulah at McCall, the gym is always packed," Brodway said. "Always expect a show. That's where I learned a lot of my coaching style from as well, from Coach Mitchell Riggs.
"It's in the blood. It's definitely in the blood."
Broadway, who went to McCall High and served as an assistant under Mark Erdey last season at Springfield, will take over as head coach this season.
But the fact that Broadway is coaching at all may come as a surprise to some.
He graduated from Southern with a degree in in Psychology and earned a Master's in Educational Leadership. He eventually started working as a middle school coach before opting to get into coaching at the high school level.
"I never saw myself as a coach coming up," Broadway said. "One day, it came to me. I was like 'I like this', so that's what inspired me. And watching Coach Mitchell Riggs, watching his mannerisms as a coach and him being successful, I wanted to pattern myself after him."
Broadway was an assistant at Redemptorist, a head coach for two years at St. John of Plaquemine and an assistant at Christian Life before coming to Springfield last season.
Along the way, he's picked up coaching knowledge he's hoping will help the Bulldogs.
"I got more into the learning part from Coach Stephen Dale at Christian Life," Broadway said. "He's now at St. Paul's. I learned a lot from him. I mean, you can always learn from a coach as you go along. There's always more to learn. But his style, the way he ran practices, it was a lot more structured, and that's the same thing I'm bringing over to this program as well."
If the influence of Riggs and Dale weren't enough, Broadway will have Erdey, who came out of retirement last season to guide the Bulldogs for a second head-coaching stint, as an assistant coach this season.
"Basically, I was doing this until we got somebody in here that we thought could do a good job, and he worked with me a year, and we felt like he was ready," said Erdey, who guided the Bulldogs to a playoff berth last season. "I'm going to try to help him out any way I can (and) make it a smooth transition. Really, we all have the same goal -- it's to get Springfield basketball back the way it used to be and keep it going."
And Broadway intends to get there by sticking with some Erdey staples on offense and defense.
"It's going to be uptempo," Broadway said. "We want to get the ball out... and just push it ahead. We don't have anything set on offense right now. The biggest thing is we want to get out and score in transition early.
"We're still going to utilize the 1-3-1," Broadway said. "We're looking to play a lot of man-to-man defense this year and put pressure on the ball. They're picking it up. It's a new system, so they're kind of learning the terminology a little better and things like that, so I think we're going to do fine."
But whatever the Bulldogs do this season, their new coach said he's only expecting it to be done at one speed.
"In the huddle before we get started every game we always say 'Quick Start'," Broadway said. "We want to come out firing off the ball starting quick, getting down the court quick. Everything we're going to do is going to be quick."
Broadway also knows he'll have Erdey's coaching experience to lean on a bit as well.
"He's going to be like that older dad that kind of helps and nurtures the kids up," Broadway said of Erdey. "I'm coaching a certain type of way, he can coach the kids up. He might see some things I don't see, so that's why he'll be here to assist with that, and we've got some other guys coming on as assistants as well."
Erdey said Broadway is prepared to be the Bulldogs' coach.
"You know, he's got a lot of energy," Erdey said. "A lot more energy than I do. He's in here this summer, he's doing fundraisers, he's getting the guys in here, and I like some of the stuff he's doing."
Broadway takes over a team that lost six seniors but returns guard Isaiah Jackson. And the Bulldogs will be tested with a schedule that will include Class 1A state champion White Castle and Top 28 teams Episcopal and Madsion. Broadway said he's also trying to add Rayville to the schedule.
"We just want to play and get better," he said.
Competing in summer league games and hosting their own team camp has given the Bulldogs a chance to get some work in in Broadway's system, although Jackson is sidelined the remainder of the summer with a sprained ankle. But that didn't stop Springfield from grabbing a win over Class 5A Covington in a game the Bulldogs trailed by 17 at one point.
"That's something to get the kids motivated to come out and beat a 5A school like that, especially being down when they think you're out of the game," Broadway said.
But Broadway knows it's still summer, and his team is a long way away from being a finished product.
"We're getting there, baby steps," he said. "We're getting these guys a lot more confident, getting them to communicate more. That's the biggest thing that they're lacking. You've got to learn how to communicate on the court."
Broadway is hoping things come together, and he's also hoping that means seeing packed gyms like the ones he remembers in Tallulah.
I'm looking to take Springfield -- looking to get these gyms packed on Friday nights," Broadway said. "If there's nowhere to go, people know where to stop if we have a home game here, because I think with the ability and the talent we have, we'll be fine."