As someone who has been coaching since Gerald Ford was in the White House, Fenwick High School girls basketball coach Dave Power has witnessed nearly everything that has happened in the history of Illinois prep basketball.
Yet he still sounds like a kid opening Christmas presents when he talks about the upcoming season.
“I’m looking forward to the season,” Power said. “I still have a lot of fun with this. I’m so excited about our young talent.”
Power, who begins his 39th season just six wins shy of becoming the second girls coach in state history to win 900 games, has a roster short on experience but long on enthusiasm.
Guard Kiki Sheard is the only senior and the Friars have only three juniors, but that may be a good thing considering Fenwick is coming off back-to-back losing seasons. The only other losing seasons were 1992-93 and 1993-94, the first two in program history.
“It’s a whole different vibe,” Power said. “I think we have probably one of the best attitudes and team chemistry we’ve had in a while. The girls are excited but young. We’ll be a little inconsistent, but I love this team. They’re going to be fun to see grow up.”
Sheard will be the group’s mother hen. The 5-7 spark plug has been lightly recruited by colleges since undergoing surgery for a torn ACL in April, but she’s healthy and ready to prove any doubters wrong.
The only other Friars with prior varsity experience are 5-10 junior Mackenzie Berschel, 5-11 sophomore McKenzie Blaze and 5-10 sophomore Kate Moore. None were starters, but all are tall, something Power sees as significant.
“We have real good height this year,” Power said. “We have one of the tallest teams we’ve had in years.”
Indeed, the Friars also have a trio of 6-footers in junior Kelly Carpenter and sophomores Charlotte Quinn and Margaret Planek.
Blaze and Moore will vie for time at the guard spots along with Berschel and junior Chance Baggett. Freshmen Mary Kate Kapsch and Gianna Ortiz could be point guards of the future.
While the Friars may struggle early against a tough schedule, Power isn’t worried.
“Some coaches are too worried about the regular season and their rank and record,” Power said. “I realize that fades real fast if you lose in the first round of the playoffs.
“What I like about our team is there’s a real good vibe and buzz. They’re getting after it more than I’ve seen the last couple years. They’re on the same page.”