All in the family for the Homyaks
It's all in the family.
That phrase holds true for most families, but it has an even deeper meaning with the Homyaks of Lehighton.
Jordyn Homyak has been a fixture on the Indians' athletic scene the past few years. Now a junior, she has had a major hand in the success of both the field hockey and girls' basketball teams.
On top of winning a state championship with her field hockey teammates this fall, Homyak has led the basketball team to a 7-6 record and aspirations of qualifying for district play. But she hasn't done it without guidance from a couple of people very close to her.
Andy Homyak and Jessica McCarroll, Jordyn's father and older sister, can also be seen on the Indians' bench helping out as assistant coaches. Andy became Tony Thomas' assistant for the first time last year, while Jessica is in her first season as the Indians' JV head coach.
"It is nice having both of them there because they know how I play," said Jordyn. "They know when they can push me at certain times. They can get on me and tell me to work harder.
"But it does get rough sometimes because they may push me too hard and it begins to get difficult. I have learned to handle it though."
Both of the older Homyak's have a rather extensive knowledge of the game. Although Andy played just one year of high school ball at Lehighton, he previously coached CYO basketball for eight years. Jessica played four years at Marian (1997-2000) before opting to play volleyball at Kutztown. Though her main focus was volleyball, Jessica still found time to play some intramural basketball.
While one might think it would be a little difficult for a person to offer constructive criticism to their teenage relative in the middle of a competitive activity, all three say that it hasn't actually been that hard.
"There has been no tension at all," said Jessica, who believes it is easier for her to relate to Jordyn because she is her sister. "I try to make sure that I am not too hard on her. I tend to be a little bit harder on her because I think I can be, but at the same time she has a great job listening to me as a coach. At home I am her sister and she leaves it at that.
"I am her chemistry teacher in school as well. She does a great job of that in the classroom. She is very respectful. So she actually makes it easy on me to be her coach, teacher and family member."
For a loving father, things couldn't be better for Andy. Not only does he get to help coach the youngest of his four daughters, but he also works with one of his other daughters.
"It's a very nice experience because I get to see my daughter in respect to watching her every day in practice," said Andy. "Over the years I have had four daughters play basketball. Except for the games, I have missed all the work they do at practice. Now I get to see her in practice and see how hard she actually works.
"This is the first year I have worked with Jessica and it is a nice feeling to have her working with me. I get to see how she coaches and I think she is doing a great job."
Then there is the aspect of added pressure. Both Andy and Jessica admitted that they are harder on Jordyn - not just because they can be, but because they feel they have to be.
"It works well because she is a very respectful person both on and off the court," Andy admitted. "I think that's why it has worked so well between us. She is such a hard worker that there is no animosity between her and the other players. If she wasn't such a hard worker, than I think there would be some problems.
"Because I am her father, I would be on her a lot more. I still am. I probably correct her more and I'm harder on her. There is no question. It doesn't matter if it's in practice or in a game. She might not say a whole lot about that, but I know I am harder on her because I feel like I have to be."
Whether things remain as easy-going for the Homyak's as they are now or they get a little tougher with the late-season games Jordyn knows her father and her sister are only trying to help make her the best basketball player she can be.
"They definitely give helpful advice," Jordyn said. "I pretty much have to listen to them because I know they are telling me to do the right things.
"They have helped me get better as a player. They push me every practice and every game to be the best player I can be. I know they only want the best for me, so every little bit helps."
MEMORABLE MILESTONE FOR MICK ... Last week was a big one for the Marian boys basketball team and their coach.
The Colts picked up three victories in the span of four days against quality opposition, beating Schuylkill Haven, Pius X and Tri-Valley.
The victory last Tuesday against the Hurricanes was a memorable one for Colt coach Mick Stefanek. Not only was it the 150th of his career, but it also made him the all-time winningest coach in Marian boys basketball history.
Stefanek passed Hugh "Wink" Gallagher, who racked up 149 victories between 1954-1969.
Now in his 11th year in charge of the Colt program, Stefanek entered this week with a 152-121 career mark and a .557 winning percentage.
Three other coaches in Marian history compiled over 100 wins in their tenure with the Colts.
Dave McAndrew, whose .795 winning percentage is the best in school history, had a 136-35 record, Bob Fulton had a 127-54 mark and Sid Llera had a 114-90 record.
LADY RAIDERS NEAR 500th WIN - ...The Tamaqua girls gave coach Joe Berezwick his 200th career victory Monday night when they defeated North Schuylkill.
Berezwick, in his 13th season, is the Lady Raiders' winningest coach, with a record of 200 wins and 124 losses.
A review of the Tamaqua's girls hoops coaching records reveals the Raiders are closing in on another milestone: their next win will be the program's 500th victory since it began in 1971.
The Raider girls have had five coaches since then: Karen Weston Rottet (who was Karen Sheets during most of her coaching days), coached 13 seasons in two stints (1971-78 and 1983-89) with a record of 162-131; Dennis Kormonick, who coached five seasons, 1978-82 (78-60); Andy Harvan, who coached three seasons, 1989-92 (10-61); Jeff Onushco, who coached five seasons, 1992-97 (49-71); and Berezwick, who has been at the helm since the 1997-1998 season.
That adds up to 499 wins and 447 losses (a winning percentage of 52.7 percent) heading into the Raiders' Schuylkill League Division I game at Jim Thorpe tonight.
DOWNTOWN DANA ... On Saturday against Weatherly, Dana McFadden became the Panther Valley girls basketball career three-point leader.
McFadden drilled a pair of threes in the game to give her 94 for her career, breaking the mark of Sue Lynn. Lynn (2002-06) had 93 treys in her Panther career.
DISTRICT TICKETS PUNCHED ... With the season just crossing the mid-way point, several TIMES NEWS area basketball teams have already clinched District 11 playoff berths.
The Northern Lehigh girls were the first to qualify with a win over Pius X back on Jan. 9.
Two days after sustaining their first loss of the season, the Tamaqua girls gained a district-qualifying victory over Nativity.
This past Tuesday night, the Marian and Weatherly boys guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason. The Colts punched their ticket with a win over Williams Valley, while the Wreckers earned their spot by knocking off Schuylkill Haven.