Former players return to court in different roles as assistant coaches
TribLIVE Sports Videos
A high school career lasts just four years, but some local girls basketball stars whose playing days have passed are helping groom a new crop of standouts.
At many schools around the Alle-Kiski Valley, top players from the past decade have returned to the high school courts in assistant coaching roles.
This season, former Ford City and Penn State player Marisa Wolfe is on the staff at Freeport, and one of her high school teammates, former IUP player Tara Powers, is in her first season with the Apollo-Ridge program.
Class AA No. 2 Burrell also has a first-year assistant in former Highlands player Courtney Kordes, who linked up with her high school coach, Meghan Ziemianski, to land a spot on the Bucs' staff.
“I ran into Meghan when I was substitute teaching. We started talking, and she asked me to join the staff,” Kordes said. “I always wanted to coach when I couldn't play anymore. I'm happy to be back out there.”
Like Kordes, Powers reconnected with a coach she knew from her high school days: former Ford City boys coach Jim Callipare.
Powers joined Callipare's staff at Elderton for her first coaching position, and when Callipare was hired last year to lead the Apollo-Ridge program, Powers came with him.
“Coaching was definitely something I wanted to get into,” Powers said. “My dad taught me the game and dedicated every free minute he had to working out with me. As I got older, his dedication to sharing his knowledge with me made we want to help others learn the game.”
A desire to stay involved in the game is a common thread among the young assistant coaches. For Wolfe, that meant getting back on the sidelines even if she wasn't going to be paid.
“I was volunteering at Ford City with the junior high program, and one of our last games was against Freeport. One player's dad somehow found out I was only a volunteer,” Wolfe said. “(Freeport varsity) Coach (Paul) Sylba asked a few days after that if I wanted to go there.”
As with anyone starting a job, young assistants are confronted with new challenges on the bench.
For former players who are used to being involved in the game, one of the biggest changes is not being able to physically impact the action.
“It's really hard,” Powers said. “It took me years to get used to it because I really get into the game. Sometimes if I think the girls aren't playing their hardest, I want to get out there and play.”
All three said they have some interest in one day becoming a head coach. For the moment, holding an assistant job is a way they can teach players and share their own experiences while learning about coaching.
“Honestly, I try to tell the girls to have fun,” Kordes said. “Sometimes they get too worked up, and that's when they make mistakes.”
“I try to share with them that if you put in the work, you get rewarded,” Wolfe said. “It may not be Division I. It may not be basketball, but there's a reward for putting in the time and work.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Deer Lakes boys move into tough Class AAA section
- Deer Lakes girls basketball set for AAA competition
- Athletic McKeesport boys basketball team features new coach, up-tempo style
- McKeesport girls basketball team healthy, anxious to start new season
- Southmoreland girls hope to compete despite shorthanded roster
- 6-foot-8 transfer bolsters Cheswick Christian boys lineup
- With starters back, Geibel boys basketball team expects big improvement
- Fox Chapel grad Papich makes jump into coaching
- Cheswick Christian girls have high expectations
- HS highlight reel: Practices for winter sports start today
- Ford City, Kittanning winter teams look forward to ‘last ride’ before school merger