Home
share

Falcons Nest Hatching New Coaches

“For the women’s game to grow, we need women who’ve played the game to be teaching it at all levels. They can be more effective role models.”
– Notre Dame Head Coach Dick Deasy

Maggie Daniels ‘05 paces the sideline during a Newton-Conover High School girl’s basketball practice. She has a whistle around her neck, and she’s finishing up drills before heading to her office to make a few calls and learn more about Bunker Hill High School, the Red Devils’ next opponent.
 
Daniels is the assistant women’s basketball coach for Newton-Conover High School. She played 120 games for Notre Dame College from 2001 to 2005, averaging 7.0 points per game. During her playing career under Falcons head coach Dick Deasy, Daniels discovered she too wanted to become a basketball coach. She discovered the strategies and psychologies of coaching and wanted to apply them on her own, which she’s now doing at Newton-Conover, located in North Carolina. And among Falcons of recent vintage, she’s not alone.

The Notre Dame Women’s Basketball program has become a launching pad for aspiring basketball coaches over the past few seasons. Under Deasy, no less than nine former players have gone into coaching in just five graduating classes, from 2002 through 2006.

The recent coaches hatched in the nest on College Road include Liberty Del Rosario ‘02, Katrina Valentine ‘03, Erin Bayer ‘04, Amanda Blazetic ‘05, Maggie Daniels ‘05, Maggie Steadley ‘05, Karen Battle ‘06, and Nichole Blade ‘06. In short order, these women have gone from a spot on the basketball floor to an end chair on the bench. A year or two ago, they were setting post screens for each other. Now, they’re in a different post, and these nine former players are setting up their own players for success in varying levels of play, from junior high school to the collegiate game.
 
If two is company and three’s a crowd, nine would be an undeniable trend; and not a trend that’s ending anytime soon. Four members of the 2006 – 2007 Falcons’ varsity squad (Brindi Kandel, Jamie King, Cierra Malone, and Megan Roche) have also expressed an interest in coaching after their playing days.

To Deasy, this trend is a signpost for the advancement of women’s basketball. “This is important for the growth of the sport,” said the Falcons’ bench boss who just completed his sixth season at Notre Dame. “For the women’s game to grow, we need women who’ve played the game to be teaching it at all levels. They can be more effective role models.”

From the new coaches’ perspectives, however, when it comes to the idea of a basketball role model, College Road in the Deasy era has been a two-way street.

“Coach Deasy does a great job communicating with our girls in a positive and respectful way,” said Maggie Steadley, who is an assistant coach at Notre Dame College. Steadley and others believe Deasy’s style should be modeled by women coaches who want to be successful.

“Coach Deasy helps the girls realize that success can come from positive reinforcement, respect, and loyalty. He also has a calming effect that permits players to play without fear of making mistakes.”


Deasy coached boy’s high school basketball and men’s college basketball for twenty-five years before taking the reigns of Magnificat High School in Rocky River, Ohio in 1996. His experience in various levels of men’s and women’s basketball gives him a unique perspective in defining a style of play and team concept that will work, both on and off the floor.

“Hard work, athleticism, and competition are okay to exhibit,” says Deasy. “Those values haven’t always been stressed in the women’s game. When they face those things as a team, it builds sportsmanship; and these ladies come out with a self-confidence and feeling of self-worth to go out and be a positive impact.”

That positive impact is being carried off by former Falcons turning their hightops in for clipboards after their playing days. This recent wave of players who’ve entered the coaching ranks is invigorating women’s basketball at the high school and collegiate level. Is there a team culture and style of play they’re taking with them? Is there a “Falcon Way” to play basketball being espoused by the fledgling coaches?

Most definitely, “yes,” is the response you’ll get from these women.
 
“The Falcon Way is an up-tempo style of play. We like to run up and down the floor and play a lot of girls. This style of play allows maximum participation and rewards players for their time and commitment.” You could attribute this quote to Maggie Steadley, and you’d be right on the money. But you could very well attribute about a dozen adjectives to “the Falcon Way,” and every one of these new coaches thinks them, says them, and works them into her own coaching philosophies.

“Up-tempo” is one you’ll hear a lot. “It’s an up-tempo way to play,” said Falcons’ assistant coach Karen Battle. “We want to keep the opponents running, and we want to be the best conditioned team on the floor.” “One thing I know I take from my time here as a player,” added Battle, “is not to accept anything less than 100 percent effort from a player with a lot of potential.”

Forging future coaches in Notre Dame’s Murphy Gymnasium isn’t just a one-way export of talent. The Falcon Way comes home to roost also. Since they are involved with the day-to-day operations of the present-day women’s basketball program, Steadley and Battle in particular see the respect for the program that’s been built in the Deasy era.

“There is an enhanced perception of our program in Cleveland, in our conference, and in national NAIA circles,” said Steadley. “We have made giant leaps in program recognition.”
 
“We have the opportunity to come back and give to the program,” added Battle. “It’s an opportunity to teach some of the philosophies and methods we learned when we were Falcons.”

Those methods are bringing results. In 2004 – 2005, the College went 26-7. In 2005 – 2006, the Falcons soared to a 25-7 record and their first-ever trip to the 32-team NAIA National Tournament. The 2006 – 2007 edition of Falcons’ Women’s Basketball also posted a 20-win season en route to a fourth consecutive post-season appearance in the American Mideast Conference Tournament.

Perhaps the Falcons’ recent successes can snowball into a program that is self-sustaining, winning from within – with talent on the floor, on the bench, and in coaches’ offices on College Road and elsewhere.

“There are intangibles to learn off the court,” says Deasy. “I hope these girls can carry that on with their own teams.”

Skip Snow is the sports information director at Notre Dame College.