Girls basketball: Lani Edmonds takes the helm at Roosevelt, academics and basketball
By Ryan Haskell Post-Tribune correspondent October 22, 2012 11:26PM
Roosevelt head coach Lani Edmonds directs players during practice Monday afternoon at the school in Gary. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 24, 2012 6:19AM
GARY — The first day of practice always brings plenty of excitement and optimism.
It’s no different at Roosevelt, where former East Chicago standout Lani Edmonds takes the reins.
But she’s preaching a new concept as the players run their first drills of the season.
“My No. 1 expectation for my team is their grades,” said Edmonds, who played basketball at Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill., and Ashland University in Ohio. “That is first and foremost. When I was in school, I didn’t like (school work) but you have to make the grade in order to play.
“I think if you are a true competitor you want to get the best grade you can. I didn’t always get ‘A’s but as long as you are working hard and you are not a problem for your teachers, you can graduate and make something for yourself.”
Winning at the game of life isn’t always preached on the basketball courts in Northwest Indiana. It’s a fresh approach Edmonds hopes transpires in the classroom and on the hardwood floors in the region.
The first-year coach will be in for quite a challenge with two returning players from last year’s 11-7 campaign. The Panthers graduated more than 90 percent of their offense from a year ago.
“Everybody is fresh,” Edmonds said. “They are almost all pretty much new.”
Fortunately, she’ll get help from former Cardinals teammates, Rayna Hare and Ebony Campbell, and from her old high school coach and father, Ron Edmonds.
“My coaches and I are passing down what he taught us,” Edmonds said. “And he continues to help us out which I’m grateful for.
“I don’t know what he wants to do, if he wants to be on my staff, but I will welcome him with open arms. Right now, they call him Coach Edmonds No. 1 and I am coach Edmonds No. 2.”
For a young program, that will be very important. The elder Edmonds rebuilt the East Chicago program from its hey days in the mid-1990s. He guided the Cardinals to a 19-0 regular season during the 2002-03 year and won a sectional title in the ’05-06 season.
Edmonds said her team still needs to get down some of the fundamentals but her girls are quick learners.
“It is a little challenging with me growing up in the sport,” Edmonds said. “The things I’m teaching now I knew in fifth grade but the great thing is these girls are open-minded and receptive to learning something new and that makes it less challenging.”
Edmonds finished 9-4 coaching the East Chicago freshman team in ’09-10.