(updated to reflect new information on Wakefield, plus more information on Coach Campbell from Tuscarora)
Lots of coaching turnover as is commonly the case in Northern Virginia this offseason. It was disappointing to see so much coaching talent leave the area and in some cases, the profession. Fortunately NOVA is not only deep in basketball skill, it’s deep in coaching knowledge as well.
For years we’ve been hearing numerous people say they wished someone would hire Jerry Lin as a head coach–now someone has. With Dan Hale presumably tired of any weather under 70 degrees and back in his native Hawaii, Marshall tabbed Lin after an exhaustive search for a new boys coach. In a profession with lots of turnover, the Statesmen might have their guy for the next 20-30 years. A graduate of the school and a teacher there, Lin seems a good bet to last as a coach at the school. It doesn’t hurt that one of the driving forces behind the NOVA Cavs AAU program is a tireless worker and a great tactician.
South Lakes also had to replace a successful coach in Andrew Duggan, who remains at the school in other capacities. That program tabbed Mike Desmond to lead their program. The Seahawks shouldn’t miss a beat under Desmond, who has been an assistant there since we can remember. A strong and obvious choice for the job.
First-year school Independence landed a big fish to pilot their boys basketball program in Corey Stitzel. Stitzel is a coach with DI assistant coaching experience to go with the last five years, when he very capably led Stone Bridge’s program. It’s hard not to envision good things for the Tigers going forward. Herndon also got a guy with a lot of experience to lead its program. Kevin Quinlan previously was the varsity coach at Edison and Glenelg Country School in Maryland. He’ll be ready for anything in a district where there’s a lot of great rivalries and contrasting systems.
Champe and Stone Bridge made some interesting hires with gentlemen who have helped build successful basketball training endeavors. The Knights hired Walter Webb as coach. Webb is the CEO of Slam City Basketball and has experience coaching at Riverdale Baptist and prep schools out of area. Champe has never really lacked for talent but has somewhat underachieved recently in the Potomac District, where there are no bad teams. We’ll see if Webb can maximize the individual talent of the Knights and bring it together as a squad. Stone Bridge meanwhile hired Kent Kling, a driving force behind the Loudoun Basketball Academy and we assume Ben’s dad. The Stone Bridge Athletic Department did not return our calls, so we don’t really know. Meh, whatever.
We’re excited to see Michael Newkirk as the new boys coach at Tuscarora. Newkirk comes over from the girls side at the same school where he was very successful. The girls and guys games tend to be very different, but basketball knowledge is basketball knowledge, and Newkirk has a lot of it. It will be interesting to see how he coaches the Huskies–will he favor the up-tempo, trapping game he utilized on the girls side? Regardless, he’s already proven he can run a basketball program at the same school.
Lots of turnover on the girls side, which is really not great for the sport. Some of it we don’t hate, though–excited to see what Liz Reed can do at one of the region’s most populous schools. Reed comes to Lake Braddock from TJ where she consistently over-achieved despite being challenged year-to-year with depth. Easily one of the region’s better coaches, it will be interesting to see how much more up-tempo Reed goes. Now she has program depth, but the Bruins are not exactly known for playing fast. We’ll find out shortly.
Perhaps one reason Reed was okay leaving the wonderful kids at TJ was her former program will likely be in good hands under Cam Johnson. Johnson, a long-time assistant at Jefferson and a Head Coach for Matrix AAU, was an obvious choice to take over. Jefferson had an excellent freshman class join the Colonials last year and Johnson has the weapons to keep TJ a yearly candidate to pull several significant upsets. Are they really even upsets any more, though?
Wakefield lost a fantastic experienced coach in Marcia Richardson but moved quickly to hire former Braddock assistant Mason Bishop. Bishop did a good job coaching the Bruins’ ninth grade and then JV teams and was a well-regarded assistant under Tim Lucas. However, something happened recently where now Bishop will not coach the Warriors. That school’s search for a coach is back in progress.
We also like what Chantilly did to replace the departed Kurt Sporkmann. The Chargers hired Josh Regan, formerly the girls coach down at North Stafford. Regan, also a former Potomac boys assistant, seems eager to scout the region down to the last detail. He’ll head a team with a good number of weapons–one we expect to be a threat to make a run at regionals.
Speaking of “threat to make a run at regionals” South County’s Nikki Woody takes over a team ready to do just that. Woody, already an assistant at the school and a well-liked persona there, has the potential to build on what has been a pretty good past two years for the Stallions. She already has a great idea of her players’ strengths and was the logical choice to keep the Stallions a contender after Aseem Rastogi decided to explore other opportunities up in the northeast.
If Champe wanted experience to head its girls program, it certainly got it in Warner Dyke. Dyke comes to Aldie from Brookville High School in Lynchburg where he won an impressive 416 games in 22 seasons. Tougher sledding up here in NOVA but it’s hard to find anyone with even a fraction of that kind of experience. Loudoun County, meanwhile, lost a guy with about that experience in Derek Fisher. We suspect Austin Campbell was almost the perfect replacement, though. Younger guy but a Raiders alum and accomplished athlete. His enthusiasm should play well in a program with young talent and some depth, though little basketball experience.
Falls Church endured a tough loss when the Jags lost Head Coach Janice Pritchett. She had brought stability and some longevity to a program that needed it. Still, we’re excited about Falls Church’s hire Katelyn Charbonneau. Charbonneau was an assistant at the school the past couple of seasons and previously coached at T.C. Williams. The continuity she can provide is key.
No continuity is needed at Independence in its first year of existence but let’s hope Katie Wimmer stays at the school for a long time. Wimmer is a huge name locally, having excelled as a player at Madison High and later at the University of Mary Washington. She has coaching experience as an assistant at both the college and high school level as well. Surely there must have other good candidates to coach in the brand-new smelling gym at the school, but this is simply a great hire.
You’re going to be hard-pressed to convince us any program is in better hands without Tim Brown, but we do like the hire of Ryan DeHaven at Battlefield. Like Wimmer a name you’ve heard of if you follow basketball around NOVA, DeHaven was once a standout basketball player locally. Now a coach, he’s done some good work out west at places like Middleburg Academy.
Other hires around NOVA on the girls side include Barbara Burgess at Justice and Alexis Campbell at Tuscarora. Was not able to contact Burgess by press time, but Campbell, like Wimmer, brings a strong playing and coaching pedigree to the table. Campbell, an alumnus of Broad Run, played her college basketball at Sacred Heart. She’s assisted at Champe, Broad Run, and the last three years as an assistant at Tusky.
As of press time, vacancies remain at Wakefield, Washington-Lee (Liberty), T.C. Williams, and Woodbridge, with the Vikings set to announce a successor to Tamika Dudley very shortly.