There are so many things a high school coach is responsible for that it’s a wonder they find time to actually coach.
Aside from making sure that players are academically eligible, going to practice and becoming proficient at the 2-3 zone defense, a basketball coach may also get involved in helping a player decide if they should continue their careers in college. And if so, which college would be a good fit?
Neshaminy girls’ basketball coach Joe Lally has been at the Redskins helm for the last eight years and has seen his share of players advance to the next level, be it NCAA Division I, II or III.
On this year’s team, Olivia Scotti is being recruited by the University of Scranton. Kristin Curley has drawn interest from Catholic University but has decided to concentrate on academics at St. Joseph’s, Temple or Pitt. Kelli Kowalick, who is at the top of her class, is on the waiting list at Yale and is also considering Tufts. Last year, Brooke Mullin earned a full scholarship to Villanova, where she is seeing some decent minutes as a freshman this season.
“I think my role as their coach is to basically be honest with the [college] people that I’m speaking to because that’s what’s going to get them to the best fit,” Lally said last week. “I don’t think it’s my job or my position to mislead anyone to create an opportunity for the kids. I’m worried about where they have the best chance to go, to succeed and most importantly get a good education.”
According to Lally, the coach is just one piece to the recruiting puzzle. Sometimes the player and their parents have their own ideas of what they want to do and where they want to go. The Amateur Athletic Union plays a big role in recruiting, and it’s not unusual for a majority of a team’s players to also play for an AAU team. But the colleges always go back to the high school coach to find out what kind of person they are getting.
“AAU plays such a big part in getting kids recruited today,” Lally said. “But eventually, every [college] coach gets to the high school coach because they know we’re with that person six days a week for at least four months out of the year and offseason workouts. So we really get the better feel for the person and the player.”
Lally has had some players such as Mullin sign with some big-time programs, and that has been rewarding for him. But perhaps more rewarding is when one of his players ends up playing at a college when playing college ball may have been the furthest thing from her mind.