New coaches bring excitement, confidence to Springdale girls basketball

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Saturday, December 5, 2020 | 7:19 PM


There’s a new-found energy surrounding the Springdale girls basketball program.

Jerry Clark and assistant coach Meredith Cooper are in their first year running things after spending time at the junior high level, and they are ready to erase the stigma that has surrounded the program for so many years.

“We’re hoping to rival soccer and some of the more popular sports around here,” Clark said. “I want to be the standard for athletics around here. I don’t want it to be like, ‘We have football. We have softball. We have boys and girls soccer, and we have a girls basketball team maybe. I’m not sure.’ ”

And the players are with them.

For the past few years, Clark has been coaching most of his current players at the junior high level.

“When the job came open, I applied immediately and, as soon they knew, the girls were texting me, I was actually driving and my phone was blowing up,” Clark said.

His familiarity with the girls has paid off. Former players, who didn’t play last year, started coming back, and even new players who haven’t played before decided to come out. Numbers wise, the program has exploded compared to where it was two years ago.

When the Dynamos played in 2018, they only had six girls. When Clark held a practice earlier this week, he was able to hold a scrimmage with two full teams and four substitutions on both sides.

Clark’s early-season roster had 21 players, which is a welcomed sight by junior captain Brianna Thompson, who was on that team with six players.

“It’s so great,” Thompson said. “Now we don’t have to worry about someone getting sick or whether or not we’re playing that day because that was a big deal last year, because if we didn’t have five girls we weren’t playing. So the attendance this year is so good to see, and it’s nice to see underclassmen coming out and being able to help, too.

“Little 7th-grade Brianna would have never thought we’d have 21 players going into my 11th-grade year.”

In the past, because of a lack of numbers, the Dynamos couldn’t scrimmage, practice plays against a full defense, or do things teams with normal numbers could.

That’s not the case this season, and it has established a different level of confidence.

“I feel confident this year because we have two great coaches who are new to us, we’re running new plays and I’m pretty sure everyone is really excited,” sophomore captain Grace Gent said. “I think we’ll do well. I really do.”

The excitement is through the roof. The next step for Clark is establishing a culture, but he feels like he’s already been able to do that because of his time with them in junior high.

“The majority of these girls know what I expect, and the reason I put Grace (Gent) and Bri (Thompson) as captains is because I trust them when I’m not watching them,” Clark said. “I know they will push the other girls, and the other girls respect them because they hold everyone accountable.

“They’ve established the culture themselves because they are sick and tired of being doormats, so when I say something, they are buying in, asking questions, and they are a real prideful group.”

Springdale girls at a glance

Coach: Jerry Clark

Last year’s record: 2-18, (0-12, Section 2-2A)

Returning starters: Brianna Thompson, Jr., G; Caity Stec, So., C;

Top newcomers: Katerina Puskar, Fr., G; Georgia Dale, So., G; Emily Wilhelm, Jr., G; Julia Parfitt, Sr., F

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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