Bears' Gauronsky was born to coach
mike feifel/times news filephoto Nicole Kregeloh and the Pleasant Valley girls basketball team have already surpassed their win total from a year ago.
Sooner or later, Nadia Gauronsky was bound to become a head basketball coach.
With a father who coached a high school team, she was constantly around the game throughout her childhood even before her playing days. She was a very good youth player and throughout high school and college.
"Everyone has their own routine in the morning," Gauronsky said. "My routine growing up was brush your teeth, go eat cereal and then you were going to play basketball somewhere in some state, with some team. That's what I did. It was just second nature.
"It was definitely in my blood."
Gauransky landed her first head coaching last season, taking over at Pleasant Valley High School. The Lady Bears struggled to a 6-16 record in her first year, but have surpassed that win total already this season at 7-4 overall (3-1 in the Mountain Valley Conference).
Just like it took pure determination to become a coach one day herself, it's the main ingredient in her Bears' progress.
"I think they want success for themselves and I think they worked hard enough to learn those things," Gauronsky said. "They're determined to have a good year. It wasn't fun to go through a 6-16 year. But, I kept telling them it's going to get better. You've just got to keep working. They were the ones who perservered through it. They were the ones in the gym with me for two hours every day (in summer) and going to summer league down in Easton and working on their own when I wasn't around.
"It's all them. I can only present something. They're the ones that have to buy into it. They bought into the system of playing aggressive and playing hard and having a chip on their shoulders going out there with something to prove."
Before taking over at Pleasant Valley, Gauronsky spet two years as an assistant to Tony Thomas at Lehighton. Just after college she was hoping to get the open job at Panther Valley, her alma mater and the school where her father, Ted Gauronsky, coached from 1986-94. But that didn't work out.
When the opportunity presented itself in Brodheadsville, where she is a teacher, she jumped at the chance to run her own program.
"I was kind of bummed that I didn't get the job in Panther Valley, but it was nice to have the opportunity in Lehighton," Gauronsky said. "I'm trying to prove at Pleasant Valley that I can coach. I wanted this job. I wanted to prove that I could do something and I think I'm trying my best to do it. I don't know if I necessarily have done that outright, but they're (the Pleasant Valley girls) trying to prove that they're a good basketball team and they're good basketball players.
"They're not just good athletic kids. Now, they're a strong basketball team. So, we're working hard together to prove something to everyone."
It wasn't all that long ago that Nadia, along with her sister Tanya and brother Greg, were tagging along with their father to practice. That's where the seed got planted for the future head coach. It's also where she picked up much of her vast knowledge of the game.
"I always remember just going to practice with him and we were the ball girls," Gauronsky said. "I was always in the gym with him and then I just really loved being around the game. I liked watching how the girls were being taught things and then I started to learn them myself.
"That's obviously where it sparked my interest in the game even more."
Gauronsky became a four-year letter winner and scored a 1,000-point at Panther Valley. After graduating in 1999, she went on to play at Mansfield University, where head coach Ruth Henderson saw signs of a future coach in Gauronsky.
"Ruth Henderson said to me that having Nadia on the floor was like having another coach on the gym floor leading the other girls," Ted Gauronsky said. "She was brought up around the game. She basically couldn't help but be anything other than she is right now.
"She was destined to be a basketball coach. I knew she had the chance to be a good one because she knew what it took to be a good basketball player."
JOINING THE CLUB ... Two local girls, Lehighton's Jordyn Homyak and Northern Lehigh's Aimee Oertner, recently joined the 1,000-point club.
Homyak poured in 17 points in a win over Panther Valley on Jan. 8 to reach the milestone. She became the sixth female in school history to do so.
Meanwhile, Oertner scored 13 points on Jan. 14 versus Notre Dame of Green Pond to cross the 1,000-point barrier. Teammate Sonya Josephson will be joining Oertner on the list soon, as she needs just 14 points to reach 1,000. The Lady Bulldogs play at Southern Lehigh on Friday.
ALREADY DANCING ... Three local girls' basketball teams have already qualified for the District 11 playoffs. Tamaqua (12-0), Northern Lehigh (12-1) and Marian (12-2) have already won at least half of their games and know they will have a chance to play for a district championship.
The Jim Thorpe and Palmerton girls, along with the Marian boys, all have ten wins as of Tuesday and are all one win away from clinching a playoff berth as well.
DOING IT ON BOTH ENDS ... The Northern Lehigh girls' basketball team displayed some great offense and defense in two of its games over the last two weeks.
On Jan. 8, the Lady Bulldogs busted out for 93 points against Pius X. Aimee Oertner and Sonya Josephson each exploded for 35 points in the contest. The Bulldogs went on to win 93-37.
Three days later, Northern Lehigh dominated on the other end of the court. The Bulldogs held Saucon Valley to just 19 points for the game. Saucon Valley made just five field goals (three three-pointers) and went 6-for-8 from the free throw line. The Panthers' score by quarters read 5, 5, 5 and 4.
SCORING DEPRIVED ... The Whitehall and Pleasant Valley girls' basketball game on Jan. 6 was not for fans who wanted to see a high-scoring affair.
The two teams combined to score 29 points in 32 minutes, with the Bears winning 19-10. Pleasant Valley connected for seven field goals, while Whitehall made just four.
Each team was held to zero points in a quarter, as the Bears went scoreless in the second while the Zephyrs were blanked in the third and scored just one in the first. Whitehall also failed to score more than five points in any quarter.