New Morris girls basketball coach Kate Carey is certainly no stranger to Redskins basketball. After all, she is a 2002 graduate of Morris, and she’s been a freshman coach in the program for the last five years under Luke Windy.
When Windy was non-tendered at the end of the season last year, Carey became something of a logical choice to make the transition to the head varsity coach as seamless as possible.
“The kids are taking it well. They had their mourning period at first because they were upset that Luke is gone. But because Kate was already in the program, I think they like her and get along with her,” Morris assistant coach Brian Stone said.
“We’re also basically following along the same path as before. There’s no real big change for them except for a personality change. I feel the same as I always have. Kate and I are on the same wavelength with what we are trying to do with the team.”
Stone is back as assistant varsity coach and Josh Williamson also is back as the sophomore coach, so the major change for the varsity is the switching of the varsity seat that Carey now fills instead of Windy.
“They are slowly buying into what I am trying to sell. I’m a very defensive-oriented coach and they are learning that. They are making strides from the first summer-league game (June 3) we had moving forward to today, they have turned the corner both offensively and defensively,” Carey said.
“In just a couple of weeks, they have made huge strides. Now they are kind of getting it a little bit. Things like where they should be and who is doing what. Now they need to add in what I’m asking for, which is 150-percent effort. They are getting there.”
The biggest transition seems to be learning the different personality and teaching styles of Carey.
“It has been a little bit of a transition,” Stone said. “They’re maybe not getting pushed quite as hard here at the beginning, but the fundamentals are still being pushed hard.”
“I get on them a little bit differently than what they are used to. The are responding pretty well to the way I try to light a fire under them,” Carey said. “I’m kind of a goof-ball and I like to have fun with them. I’m not harping on them and riding them the whole time. I get excited. I’m very excitable and playful. I like to mess with them. At practice, I like to jump in with them a bit here and there. We’re having fun and its a good time.”
Last year freshman guard Leona Burton was called up to the varsity halfway through the season, so she had the unique experience of having played for both Windy and Carey.
“I didn’t have Mr. Windy for a full year. I had him for half a season and I had coach Carey as a freshman coach, so it’s not a big transition for me as opposed to the other girls. Some have asked what kind of a coach she is but I always feel that a coach is a coach,” Burton said. “They are going to get the job done by trying to make us the best team we can be and improve our skills so we can make it to the next level, which is college.”
Carey has coached all of the girls on the current varsity squad.
“It’s nice to have the relationship already. Katie (Friend) and Julie (Jurasits), they got moved up and didn’t play freshman ball. I had Leona for half the year last year before she got moved up,” Carey said. “Otherwise, I’ve had them all and have a good relationship with them. I think it helps the transition, absolutely, as opposed to a stranger coming in. They’ve experience me and know that I can get fired up.”
Besides that, it sounds like Carey is keeping things similar to what the girls know already.
“I didn’t change a whole lot as far as what we’re running on offense. We’re doing a lot of the same things we’ve been doing for the past several years,” Carey said. “I maybe teach it a little different but I think the girls are responding well to it.”
“The offense is basically the same, we’re just focusing on reaction drills to give us more options. The defense we have been working on the basics. The stance and things like that,” Burton confirmed. “I feel like we are focusing more on our defense. We’re working on reaction drills a lot more.”
Most of those drills Carey admits to have picked up a little bit here and there from all of her fellow coaches.
“This is my sixth year. Basically I’ve taken a lot in,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from everyone that I’ve been coaching with in the last five years. I’ve take a lot from Luke, from Josh, from Brian and when I coached with Steph Kauffman.”