by Miranda Poulson
After a revolving door of coaches over the past few seasons, Hale has hired Caitlin Relyea to bring some stability to a girl’s basketball program that has lacked consistency year-to-year. The program has struggled to keep coaches for more than a season and the ones that stayed lacked the in-depth knowledge of basketball needed to lead a successful team.
“We’ve had a new coach every season, at least for the past two years,” junior Clara Hansen said. “Last year, our head coach wasn’t very qualified to be a basketball coach, since he had only been an assistant football coach in the past.”
This instability has hindered the team’s ability to grow and reach its full potential. The team wants a consistent coach that can create an inclusive environment and bring some much needed regularity to the team.
“In the future I’d like to see a coach that is more committed and actually wants to see our team do better, rather than just stay where we are,” Hansen said.
Relyea already has plans in motion to increase participation and organization within the team.
Relyea’s goals for this year center on building a culture and community within the team where girls can have fun and learn about basketball. She wants both the school and the girls to be excited about the program.
“Basketball is about a lot more than just what you do on the court, so I’m hoping that we can build a program that helps develop our players both on and off the court,” Relyea said.
Relyea also has more experience with the sport than past coaches. She became actively involved with basketball in high school, where she was then recruited for colleges. She played for Lewis and Clark College, a small Division III school in Oregon. Her collegiate career was cut short due to an injury in her senior year.
“After [my injury], I ended up taking on a student assistant position for the team and from there went on to start coaching at various levels in a couple different high schools in the Portland area,” Relyea explained.
Relyea had left coaching for about a year when she came upon Hale’s online posting about the available job.
“I was really missing coaching and having a program and I was looking to get back into it, so I applied,” Relyea said. “And everything worked out, here I am.”
The team still has their fears of losing yet another coach, but Relyea has committed her time and experience to the team and has tried to address their concerns.
“I’m a pretty honest person, I’m a pretty upfront person, and I don’t plan on going anywhere,” Relyea said. “When I took this job, obviously I knew it was going to be a project and that I was buying into something and wanting to build something.”
Relyea has been putting a large emphasis on the team’s pre-season training. She believes this year will be different. The team’s pre-season work has put most players ahead of the curve, enabling them to start the season with a solid foundation of the fundamentals of basketball.
Relyea encourages all Hale girls to come and try out basketball. It is a sport based around the team rather than the individual, which Relyea believes is an excellent way to build a community.
“Everyone has a part, everyone plays a part, and I think that that is really why it’s such a great sport for girls,” Relyea said. “You really have to stick together as a group and it creates a family.”