Tom Young has been coaching the Harwood varsity girls’ basketball team for four years. As the winter basketball season kicks into gear he has high hopes for his new team.
“I think this group is very hungry. I think the beauty of high school sports is each year brings a new team makeup,” said Young. While the team lost four seniors this year, the new team will not be devoid of talent. “I have eight possible returning players and will have 25 to 30 players trying out for JV and/or varsity,” said Young.
However, Young expects that playing during a pandemic will pose new challenges. “I think the possibility of anyone testing positive at any time will create a need to have a pool of players ‘varsity ready’ at any given point in the year. This means we will be needing to count on all of the varsity and JV players to be ready to fill in a role at any given time,” said Young, who was also concerned about the extra stress that COVID will bring to the lives of student athletes, whether they get it or not.
“Typically, students face a variety of stressors during a season. This COVID year will add its own stressors and, as a coach, I need to make sure we take that into consideration. We need to push them on the court but help them keep balance with everything else at the same time,” said Young.
Another COVID-related sports challenge will be getting teams back up to a competition-ready fitness level. “Some of these kids may not have touched a basketball since our last game in February. As a coach, I will need to remember to see the season as a prep to get ready for the playoffs. At the same time know that this will be a season like no other,” said Young.
Last year, the Harwood girls’ varsity basketball team ended the season with an astounding 20-3 record, setting the high school’s record for games won in a season. “I am looking forward to a very talented junior group to take the next step and finish their senior year on a high note,” said Young.
Young believes this team has the potential to be better than last year’s team. “I may very well have the strongest 1-12 roster that I have had at Harwood,” said Young. “This is great because it will make our practices more competitive. I know it will take some time to implement the new style of play but I feel if we can peak towards the end of the season, we will once again be a very tough team to face in the playoffs.”
Ultimately, Young is just excited to get to work. “We obtained every goal we set last year and we know what it took to do so,” he said. “I know this group wants to experience the same success so it is my job to make sure they work for it.”