President and Head Coach, Tucson HEAT
With over 20 years coaching experience (which includes Junior Varsity and Varsity teams and 11 years involvement with Tucson Heat), Anthony Merritt, “Coach Anthony”, brings passion and dedication while imparting knowledge, structure and skill building to team members. He personally understands the commitment level and flexibility necessary to aide in the fulfillment of players’ goals. This is evidenced by his own personal sacrifice to support his three sons (ages 25, 19 and 17) who are either current players or alumni of the Heat program.
Coach Anthony introduced the first Middle School team to the HEAT program over 10 years ago. This has since blossomed into a program with players from 2nd through 8th grade. Nearly 98% of the middle school students who have been coached through the 8th grade program have gone on to play with their high school teams and several of these former players have furthered their careers by going on to play college basketball.
Coach Anthony has been instrumental in the growth of the Tucson HEAT program and embraces the brand’s founding principle: High Standards, Education, Attitude and Teamwork (HEAT). The program does more than build students athletically. They are “student athletes” therefore academics come first. The current Heat 8th grade team carries a GPA over 3.5 and many players have a 4.0 GPA.
He believes that when a player is developed correctly in a program with qualified coaches in place it improves not only the individual, but the team as a whole. Working with parents regarding player behavioral issues and teaching life skills on and off the court is also essential. He feels strongly that with the help of a great team of experienced and dedicated coaches, the drive, hard work and loyalty of committed players, and parent engagement, true success is attainable.
“This is why the Tucson HEAT has been the longest running basketball club in Arizona. This is what separates us from other club teams” – Coach Anthony