After a long career teaching and coaching basketball – starting at the age of 22 as the head coach at Overbrook High with Wilt Chamberlain – a Daily News reporter interviewed me and asked if I was ever going to coach basketball again. With tongue in cheek, I said that I would like to coach 9th grade girls. Little did I know that he was going to put that statement in the newspaper article that he was writing.
The next day, Barry Kirsch, the girls’ basketball coach at Archbishop Carroll called me and asked me if I would coach his 9th grade girls at Archbishop Carroll in the Catholic League. I knew of Barry’s reputation as a fine coach and a wonderful gentleman and I immediately said “yes.” I coached there for six years. The girls were wonderful and responsive for all we tried to do for them, and we were very successful; however, coaching girls is far different than coaching boys.
Our teams usually lost only one or two games a season in those six years and the girls responded to everything we tried to teach them except that I lost their concentration when a boy entered the gym. All eyes shifted from me to the other side of the gym where the boy was standing, and then they sheepishly looked back at me as I waited for their attention.
After one of the games, Bridgett asked me, “How did I do?” I responded as gently as I could that she played well, but she only shot one for 12. She quickly responded, “Well, I can’t make every shot.”
I must tell one classic story. We were playing an important game and the score was very close with a few minutes to play. I wanted to get Heather into the game and I called her over to me from the bench and told her she was going in for Kelly and that we were playing “man to man defense.” She needed to ask Kelly who she was guarding because that would be the girl she was guarding. She turned to me and with a straight, serious look in her face said, “I’m not talking to Kelly.” I looked at my assistant coach, Aaron Bitman, who dropped his head and would not even look at me. I looked into the stands, and my friends who heard the conversation were convulsed with laughter.