Parents appreciate coaching — or coaching against — their kids in Westmoreland County girls basketball

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021 | 6:52 PM


Mike Gerdich admits he and his daughters take basketball home with them.

After games and practices, the family vehicle is alive with hoops talk as Gerdich discusses the day that was for the Yough girls basketball team with two of his key players.

Kayla Gerdich is a junior guard and Laney Gerdich is a sophomore forward for the Cougars. Their dad is the fourth-year coach of the program.

The trio has found a way to make the family dynamic work.

“If the team plays well, they enjoy the ride (home),” Mike Gerdich said. “If the team doesn’t play well, they don’t enjoy the ride. I am harder on them than any of their teammates.”

Family ties also exist at Southmoreland, where first-year coach Amber Cernuto coaches her sophomore daughter, point guard Olivia Cernuto.

Greensburg Salem assistant Lisa Mankins coaches her daughters, junior Abby and freshman Kait, as part of Rick Klimchock’s staff.

Connections also cross school district boundaries. Hempfield girls coach Tom Brush will get to coach against his daughters, Maria and Angelina, who play for Franklin Regional.

And speaking of Franklin Regional, girls coach Anthony Kobus has a daughter, Ava, who is a freshman on Norwin’s team.

“Once we get home, we’ll spend a little more time going over what we did well as a team, what we didn’t do well as a team, and what the two of them did that helped or hurt the team’s efforts,” Mike Gerdich said. “Sometimes, if things don’t go well, there are no conversations — just some bowls of ice cream. One of my coaching colleagues told me that is the best remedy for not playing well.”

Yough (3-9) is heading to the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs, which will have an open field this season due to covid-related issues including unbalanced records. All WPIAL teams are eligible to go to the postseason.

Yough has not been to the playoffs since 2009-10.

“The best part of having my dad as my coach is he pushes me to be the best player I can be,” Laney Gerdich said. “I am thankful to have someone who has played the game (and my position) to coach me and help me develop as a player. We can go over film and he can critique me: the good, bad and ugly.”

Laney Gerdich said the most challenging part of having her father as her coach is trying to decifer his tone of voice.

“When he is speaking to me as a coach or as a dad,” she said. “I won’t tell you which one is worse. Sometimes we talk it out, sometimes we don’t.”

She said the ice cream nights are the best.

Kayla Gerdich, who appreciate a nice bowl of cookies and cream, said the girls learn from the hash-out sessions.

“He’s very encouraging,” she said. “Sometimes he’s very hard on me and Laney, but it’s because he cares and wants us to be the best we can.”

Southmoreland has been a top-5 team in Class 4A all season. Whether it’s from the bench or the top of the key, the returning WPIAL runner-up Scotties get their play calls from the Cernutos.

Olivia Cernuto said the pressure is amped up with her mother coaching.

“She’s been my coach ever since I was little, so I’m used to it and her being around,” she said. “There is no room for slacking off.

“The best part would probably be being able to have a connection between us and being able to accomplish things together.”

For the most part, basketball stays at the gym, Amber Cernuto said.

“Olivia is a dynamic player and I know she can do a lot on the court,” said Cernuto, a former Scotties assistant who returned to the sidelines after a year off. “I am trying really hard to leave basketball in the gym and not bring it home with her. There have been a couple of times this has been hard, but I am trying.”

Tom Brush is anxious to coach Saturday afternoon’s game at Hempfield against Franklin Regional.

Maria Brush is the starting point guard for the Panthers. Freshman Angelina Brush is a reserve guard for Franklin Regional. Their father tries to catch their games when his Lady Spartans are not in action.

“After the games, we do catch each other up on how our games went,” Tom Brush said. “Fortunately, I have been able to see a few of their games this season. I got to see my daughters play together for the first time and saw my youngest daughter score her first varsity basket.

“While I do miss some of their games, I still get to spend time shooting with them on the weekends.”

Brush never has coached against his daughters.

“We are all very competitive, so the game will be intense,” Brush said. “I’d be very happy if my daughters play great — as long as Hempfield wins.

“I’ll definitely be outnumbered in my house with both daughters playing, and my wife does the scorebook for Franklin Regional.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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