Frank Briscoe, assistant coach of the girls basketball and track teams at Anacostia, doesn't hesitate to offer suggestions to his head coach. Sometimes his boss heeds the advice, sometimes not.
Whichever, he doesn't take it personally.
"I felt I could interject any thoughts at any time, but when you come to the crossroads and a decision has to be made, the head coach should make it," he said. "We have our differences and we discuss decisions at our coaches' meetings."
These meetings occur any time because the head coach is wife Patricia Briscoe. Married three years ago, they parlayed their coaching abilities and ideas to help Anacostia begin to regain respectability in girls' basketball and track.
"Sometimes, I concede when we have to make a decision, because I respect and feed off his knowledge of the sport," said Patricia Briscoe, who attended Anacostia and Hampton Institute, then returned to Anacostia in 1976 to teach mathematics and coach. "Frank has played the game and knows what he talking about. We try to separate coaching from our home life, but sometimes it's hard. At home, we'll just start talking about the girls and what we can do to improve."
The Briscoe double-team already has produced major dividends at Anacostia. After failing to finish close to .500 for several years, the basketball team has had winning records and made the playoffs three of the last four years.
Three years ago, the girls track program was virtually nonexistent. But recently, the Indians were third, behind powers Ballou and H.D. Woodson, in the Interhigh League championships. The Anacostia ninth-grade team also finished third in the championships for the second straight year.
"Basically all of the Anacostia girls sports teams had to be rebuilt," Frank Briscoe said. "The school isn't known for having good (girls) teams, but the last few years, they've gotten better.
"Anyone who has seen our team knows winning isn't as much a priority as developing a competitive program. We ask the kids to give us their maximum effort. If they do that, we'll have a product that projects a positive image and one everyone in Southeast can be proud of."
Like his wife, Frank Briscoe is a native Washingtonian. He attended now-defunct Western High School here and Midland Lutheran College in Nebraska, where he played basketball, football and ran track. He began teaching at Cardozo in 1980, but was riffed when the District school system cut back on jobs. He began subbing at Anacostia and has been a permanent substitute there ever since.
"That was s pretty good RIF for us," said Pat Briscoe, who also works with cheerleaders and is an umpire during the summers. "When he was transferred to Anacostia, we met and started working together. Both of us loved coaching so this worked out well for both of us."
One obvious advantage is that if one team has a game or a practice session scheduled, the other team doesn't suffer. "There's always one of us around to work with them," said Pat Briscoe, 32. "Sometimes the girls try to play one of us against the other, trying to get their way, but you know we always find out about it."
Because Anacostia's track is in poor shape, the Briscoes had to schedule their practices at neighboring schools. That arrangement often led to students getting home later than usual, but their coaches always made sure all got home safely.
"That meant we didn't get home until 8 or 9 o'clock," said Frank Briscoe, 34, "But the parents always knew where their kids were."
Both Briscoes hope a permanent teaching and coaching position opens up soon.
"If I got a position somewhere else, I'd have to go," Frank Briscoe said without hesitation. "I'd miss it at Anacostia, because I've developed a fine working relationship here with the administration and the students. But professionally speaking, I'd like to have a permanent base."
Until the time comes when the Briscoes may coach against one another, they are content to continue improving the Indians' program and help their athletes get college scholarships.
"We just want Anacostia to be recognized in a positive image and be respected (in girls' sports)," Frank Briscoe said.