New coach hopes to rebuild program
Front: Atasha Rehrig, Amy Smith, Alessandra Rossino, Riley Durishin and Jada Whiteman. Back: Atasha Rehrig, Celina Fital, Brooke Blasiak, and Tiffany Thompson.
For Eric Gidney, it's not all about winning and championships.
The longtime basketball coach and new mentor for the Lehighton girls program is more focused on building a program and developing quality human beings.
And since he's taken over, he feels things are headed in the right direction.
"What I do to rehab or rebuild programs is to establish a culture of winning first," said Gidney. "Forget the wins or losses. Treat the team, the individual players and the program as winners right away. We're trying to lift them up, do volunteer work in the community, and create a successful culture.
"At the end of the day, it's more than just about the wins and losses. If we can give them a culture that they want to be a part of then more players will want to come out and be a part of it. We're building something special here and it's going to take time, but we have some lofty goals."
One of the loftiest goals Gidney has put in place is a district playoff berth. For a team that lost three of its top four scorers and is coming off a 4-18 record, that seems like a tough task.
"I have uttered the D word to them," said Gidney, who lives outside of Pottstown and has coached at Friends Select, the Shipley School, Christopher Dock, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Ursinus College. "If we don't play for that, what are we playing for?
"I really don't talk about last year, but I know what the wins and losses were. I know what some of the winnable games were that turned out to be losses. If we can fix some of the challenges they've had as a team, it's not that hard to find more wins with this team. There's a lot of talent and good senior leadership. Most of all, there's a desire to work hard and be successful. Without that I could never even think about uttering districts. I don't know if we're going to get there, but that's what our ultimate goal is and that's what we're working for every day."
Gidney will rely on captains Riley Durishin and Amy Smith to lead the way. Durishin, a junior, will be the team's starting point guard while Smith, a senior, will play at multiple positions.
"Riley's our leader on the floor. She's got a tremendous amount of work ethic and she's fearless," said Gidney. "Amy is calm, cool and collected on the court. She's steady, but she excels in a lot of different things. Almost every position is a perfect spot for her in one way or another."
Tiffany Thompson, a 5-9 senior, is the top returning scorer at 4.9 points per game and will be counted on for offensive support. Celina Fital also saw significant time a year ago and should contribute.
"Tiffany has tons of talent and understands the game," said Gidney. "She has an uncanny ability down low and has a soft touch on her jumper. Celina is a lot like Amy in that I can play her in multiple positions on the floor both offensively and defensively. She's not afraid to drive to the basket and she's got three-point range."
Holly Bollinger, a 5-11 sophomore, will provide a presence under the basket while sophomore Allie Rossino and freshman Jada Whiteman give the team more shooting and ballhandling skills.
The rest of the squad includes Brooke Scott, Brooke Blasiak and Atasha Rehrig.
"We're definitely changing the defensive system here," added Gidney. "We're going to be making a lot of changes, not just defensively but on the offensive side as well. We're going to be aggressive on the half court.
"They're going to work hard and I think it's going to show on the defensive end. I want them to see that what you do defensively doesn't light up the stat sheet but it's important."