ShareThis Page

Thomas takes over as Lady Spartans' head coach

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
jeff healy | for the south hills record
Former Brentwood assistant Rachel Thomas, at right, was hired as the Lady Spartans' head coach last week.
jeff healy | for the south hills record
Rachel Thomas

The Brentwood Spartans girls' basketball team will head in a new direction next season with a familiar face roaming the bench.

Former assistant Rachel Thomas will assume the reigns in place of former head coach Dan Thayer, who has been hired as floor boss of the West Mifflin girls' basketball program.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Thomas, who was hired as head coach last week. “I believe in these girls. I'm a lifelong resident and a graduate of Brentwood.

“I'd love to bring this program to be competitive within our section.”

Last season, the Lady Spartans finished 2-10 in Section 4-AA, just ahead of winless Wilkinsburg, but posted a 9-13 overall record.

Under Thomas' tutelage, the Brentwood girls will build on the fundamentals they have learned over the years, and will rely on upperclassmen and several underclassmen who saw significant playing time as freshmen.

“We're going to focus on the core things we did last year,” Thomas said. “We have to get back to the fundamentals with these girls.

“They have a lot of talent, but have to build their confidence.”

Thomas will look to seniors Laura McGowan and Sydney Bauer, along with sophomore Alicia Folino, to be her eyes, ears and voice in the locker room.

Their roles are expected to replace those lost from graduated seniors Amanda Kramer and Megan Gildea.

“Those three are the easiest kids to coach,” said Thomas of McGowan, Bauer and Folino. “Whatever you ask from them, they do; and do without a complaint. As a younger kid coming up, if you see a senior doing what the coach says, that is priceless.”

Having spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Brentwood should make the transition to head coach a bit easier for Thomas.

The current crop of players knows what to expect from her, and she said she knows which buttons to push to get the most from her players.

“It's already been seamless,” Thomas said of the transition. “I'm the head coach of the summer league (team), and it's like nothing changed. I coached them as an assistant coach, and we'll finish it up as the head coach.”

Thomas also was hired as the Brentwood girls' seventh- and eighth-grade assistant basketball coach last week.

“I plan to stay involved with the younger teams,” Thomas said. “To go to some of those practices and start showing them some of the things we do at the high school was valuable, and will make the learning curve less.

“The more they know about our high school team, the better off I think we are.”

As is the case with any team, there will be growing pains, along with some bumps, along the way.

Thomas is confident with the Lady Spartans' talent pool and basketball experience, and believes the WPIAL playoffs no longer are a mirage around Brentwood.

“I truly believe these girls can be playoff contenders this year,” she said. “With the core that we have, and the freshmen we have coming up ... it's a good group. They want to be successful, and they want to learn.

“I believe we can finish in the middle of our section and be a playoff contender.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.