Politics apparently keeping girls hoops team coach-less
With the start of preseason practices just over a month away, the Gateway High School girls basketball team still lacks one thing: A coach.
The players and administration have lined up behind former Penn Hills coach and University of Pittsburgh standout Jennifer Bruce Scott. The school board put off a decision last week, and while a vote on a new coach is expected Wednesday, the players say the delay only puts them further behind in preparations for the season.
“They act like they don’t care what we want,” said junior Keysha Johnson, among Gateway players Scott coached in a summer league. “She already knows us. She cares about all of us and she wants to help us.”
The administration recommended Scott for the job earlier this month. But the board voted against her last Wednesday, with some members backing former Gateway boys assistant coach Mitch Adams. Rather than go with Adams, the board decided to table a final decision for another week.
The board will meet privately Tuesday to review the resumes of both candidates, and then vote the following day in a special meeting at the administration building, 9000 Gateway Campus Blvd.
Meanwhile, there’s no one to lead the team through preseason conditioning and weightlifting, and pick-up games. Some girls have done that work on their own, but they admit it’s not the same.
“Other schools have been already started conditioning and working out,” said sophomore Quiana Brown. “We’re so far behind.”
Under WPIAL rules, teams can’t officially practice until Nov. 10, but coaches are allowed to launch conditioning programs and conduct open-gym sessions anytime.
The vote last week against Scott fell 5-4, with Bob Gale, Cindy Lucas, Gregg Nemec and William Bailey favoring her hiring and Jim Brown, Dave Magill, Scott Williams, Cindy Falvo and William Segar opposing her.
Scott, a nurse at Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, said players’ voices should be heard.
“We’ve got to have these girls as the front-runners of all this,” Scott said. “They know what they want. They are behind (in conditioning), too. They should be heavy into their weightlifting, agility work and conditioning for endurance. A lot of this is not mandatory, but these girls want this.”
Like Scott, Adams said the decision has been too slow in coming.
“You would have liked to have had these girls a coach by July,” Adams said. “It’s about the kids. It’s not about me. Put the focus on the kids. Hopefully things will work out.”
Gale admitted the district hasn’t handled the situation well.
“Either way, we should have had a coach by now,” the board president said. “If (the board) didn’t want Scott, they should have just voted her down and allowed the administration to come back with another candidate. But when you present your own candidate and do things that appear political, you’re going to have that. Sometimes in life, perception is reality.”
Board member Cindy Lucas agreed.
“We’re losing sight of the children and the young women of this district,” Lucas said. “I feel that we have taken a gigantic step backward.”
Scott coached the last four seasons at Penn Hills, a one-time powerhouse that has fallen on hard times. The Indians were 3-21 last season, 24-72 over Scott’s four seasons there. Penn Hills won eight straight WPIAL Class AAAA titles between 1986 and 1992.
Gateway finished 15-10 last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs under Coach Chuck Riley.
Adams, 45, who runs a trophy shop, also applied to be the boys varsity coach. The board in July hired former South Allegheny coach Ed Marko for that job.