By Lauren Cashman
Midway through the Seward Invitational Basketball Tournament a few weeks ago, the Lady Mariner basketball program found themselves in a serious predicament; due to uncontrollable events, they were in need of a coach in the midst of a tournament.
Dennis Welch approached Mark Casseri, the boys’ basketball coach, and requested that he cover for the weekend while he left town on family business.
Mr. Casseri said that he would “help in any way that he could,” and promptly took on the daunting task of coaching both basketball teams for the weekend.
Upon arriving back at school, Mr. Welch decided he needed to remain with his family; Dr. Gee agreed with his decision and transferred the responsibilities of the girls’ basketball program to Mr. Casseri, who became head of both programs.
In addition to the departure of Mr. Welch, the other member of the girls’ coaching staff, Dan Miotke, received a once in a lifetime opportunity to float the Colorado River with his wife, and left the program as well. Tim Daugharty, one of the other coaches for the boys team, also agreed to help run the program.
With his program almost doubling in size, the teams consist of 28 boys and 18 girls, Mr. Casseri jokingly said that “it’s a lot of late hours and more headaches.” He is adamant that there should be a female chaperone on all trips and is taking seriously the responsibility of being a male coach in a female program.
Casseri said that he is really getting back to basics with the girls, saying that “we’re doing in February what we would be doing at the beginning of the season.” He is working on physicality with them and says that his practices are focused around nonstop movement. He can already see a difference in their physical abilities, saying that their recovery time is increasing, whether it’s during a free-throw or a time out, and they’re not fatiguing as much.
The coaches are not the only people noticing a difference in the girls’ performance; sophomore Megan Gee claims that “practices are much more intense now.” Junior Maggie Graham said “the first practice was really intimidating, because it’s Mr. Casseri, but the team really pulled together, and we’ve been working hard.”
While Mr. Casseri will not return as the girls’ basketball coach next year, he plans to finish this current season out and lay a strong foundation for whoever is going to coach the program next year.