Mark Thomas has been coaching for the Jaguars for a long time. In fact, if we were to keep track of how many games people have coached for our organization there is no doubt that Mark would be the leader by a lot of games.
Mark has had many good teams over the years and has forged many positive relationships with the girls he has mentored, perhaps none as strong as the ones he formed when he coached our current 9th Grade Team in years past. Because of that relationship, when Mark was looking for some experienced players to help coach our 2013 5th Grade Blue team both Taylor Evans and McKenna Kohler (more pictures below) stepped up to the plate.
As a coach myself I always thought it was a good idea for current players to see the game from the other side of the bench, so to speak. Taylor and McKenna are getting that experience now, just as their high school careers are blossoming. This will pay dividends, not only for the girls they are coaching but also for the programs at Owen J. Roberts and Perkiomen Valley.
Taylor and McKenna are both enjoying working with the younger players. "The thing I have enjoyed most is the connection that I have developed with the girls and coaches. I feel like they have taught me a lot even though they are 4 years younger than me and I want to be a good role model for them" Evans explained. Kohler added that she has enjoyed "just seeing the game from a different point of view. I understand how coaches get frustrated now because they can't go in the game and play. When I'm sitting on the bench I wish I was in there with the girls most of the time.".
Taylor went on to say that she is suprised at how vocal she has been with the girls, she thought she would let McKenna "do all the yelling".
While this experience will benefit both players, they are still first and foremost players; and accomplished ones at that. Both players saw significant playing time as freshman at their respective high school this past season. In order to improve their own games Evans takes private ball handling and shooting lessons with the Jaguar's own Greg Alessandroni and has worked with Ed Sharr in the past. McKenna works out with her brother and is constantly working on her free throws and post moves. Taylor recognizes that she needs to make the transition from being the post player she was when she was younger to more of a face the basket threat and that is what Coach Alessandroni at A3 Hoops is working on with her. McKenna continues to work her inside game, woking on maximizing what she is able to accomplish with her size and strength down low.
Both Taylor and McKenna hope to continue playing basketball past high school. McKenna says that she "can't imagine stopping basketball because I don't know what I would do without it". In addition both girls have interests outside of basketball, McKenna plays the viola in the orchestra and Taylor enjoys reading and supporting her school through extra-currlicular activities and attendance at other sporting events, "I ALWAYS try and make all the lacrosse games" she said.
So, what advice does Taylor and McKenna have offer the youngsters under their guidance?
Taylor: "They definitely have to work hard because in the end it pays off and you get where you want to be. Also, they should have fun while doing all of it because it's not going to be enjoyable if you are not doing something you love. Always give everything you have because you never know if that game will be your last".
McKenna: "I would tell the girls that basketball is a big commitment and it will take a lot of hard work, sacrifice, commitment and time. But if you truly love playing and you have fun playing, in the end all of the hard work and late night practices will pay off!"
Taylor and McKenna Battle in a 2012-13 High School Game
McKenna keeps a watchful eye on Taylor
Tag(s): Home 4th Grade Girls National 5th Grade Girls National 6th Grade Girls National 7th Grade Girls National 8th Grade Girls National 9th Grade Girls National HS Girls Blue 4th Grade Boys National 6th Grade Boys National 7th Grade Boys National 9th Grade Boys National 5th Grade Girls Regional 7th Girls Regional - Cingiser