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New coaches bring new perspective

Girls basketball coaches want players to “ successful as human beings and basketball players”

With the winter athletic season underway, there is a new addition to the girls varsity basketball team. ”

Varsity girls’ head coach Cassie Kotlarczyk yells to her players from the sidelines at their home game against St. Johns on Dec. 12. | Photo Credit: Brennan Long

Cassie Kotlarczyk took the position of varsity coach, along with Lexi Kelly for junior varsity A team, and Christopher Cline for junior varsity B.

Along with her previous experience coaching the junior varsity team and playing basketball for years, Kotlarczyk brings a new perspective and attitude to the team that many players are eager to learn from

“I think a lot of the girls will have a better connection to Cassie and they like her. She has a different outlook,” said junior Abbie Taylor.

Not only are the players excited for the change, but all the coaches are looking forward to what the season brings. They each have a long history in basketball and see Holt as a place where they can continue their journey.

“...I love coaching, I love Holt, I love everything Holt has to offer and I want to build the program,” said Kotlarczyk.

"I have grown so much as being the hard-nosed coach that just wanted to win, to now thinking how can we grow and develop and empower... Doing that, I found out, my team is more successful and my players are more successful."

The new coaching staff is focused on creating a change in the teams’ dynamic. They are looking to create an environment where the players can be open and enjoy playing, yet have a high level of competition.

“We have a lot of positive coaching and a positive environment, as I feel it was not in the past,” says Kelly.

The goal for the coaches is to expand the program, allowing not only the players to grow, but the coaches, as well. They want to take the structure of what the program already was and build from it.

“Coach Harkema did a great job in building his program and we want to take his successes in his program, add our own spin, and accentuate those and grow from those,” said Kotlarczyk.

One of the additions Kotlarczyk brings is the sister program, in which the players on the varsity team will have a “little sister” from the Junior Rams girls basketball program. The younger players will be able to feel and see what it’s going to be like on the varsity team in a couple of years.

“We are more united as a program, and it’s not just varsity. It’s about all levels...we’ll have some Junior Rams come to our practices, so they get to see what they are going to experience when they get to high school,” said junior Maddie Cole.

The varsity girls basketball team huddles before the St. Johns game on Dec. 12 to discuss the game plan. | Photo Credit: Brennan Long

Joining the team along with the coaches is a fresh crop of players. During tryouts this year, many underclassmen stood out. After the varsity team was formed, there were six underclassmen accompanying the nine upperclassmen.

Although the team is younger than in years past, the players aren’t concerned about how the team is going to perform.

“With our team being younger, we are a little bit more inexperienced right now, but I think it’s going to pay off in long run because we’ll have a better team built,” said sophomore Ella Barker.

Although the team is young, Kotlarczyk believes that along with the competitiveness they already have, the coaching staff can build a mentality throughout the program to make all of the players tougher on and off the court.

“... I want them to be strong, independent women who can dominate on the court,” said Kotlarczyk.

Junior Ana Mooney guards a St. Johns player during the Holt vs St. Johns basketball game on Dec. 12. | Photo Credit: Brennan Long

After taking the reins of the program, Kotlarczyk hopes to improve her coaching. She takes pride in her position as coach and wants to be the best she can be for the program.

“...Being able to step into a gym and have conversations and help influence young people and see how they grow as basketball players and as young adults is such a gift,” said Kotlarczyk.

And while winning is always a primary goal for any coach, Kotlarczyk sees that her role means so much more.

“I have grown so much as being the hard-nosed coach that just wanted to win, to now thinking how can we grow and develop and empower you. Doing that, I found out, my team is more successful and my players are more successful.”

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