Girls basketball: Wealth of knowledge on Valparaiso coaching staff
By LaMond Pope 713-2691 or firstname.lastname@example.org November 9, 2013 8:06PM
Valparaiso High School girls basketball head coach Joe Otis observes practice on Thursday, November 7, 2013. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 11, 2013 6:54AM
VALPARAISO — Joe Otis has done the math.
“I think our (career) win total is like 945 as a (coaching) staff,” Otis said. “I don’t think anybody in Indiana is close to that.”
That’s a lot of victories. And experience.
Otis, Jack Gabor and Candy Wilson are part of a revamped Valparaiso coaching staff.
“I feel like the luckiest guy in Indiana in terms of my coaches,” Otis said.
Otis hopes the experience translates into turning around the program.
After years as the boys coach at Valparaiso, Otis takes over the girls program. Gabor — whose stops include serving as the boys basketball coach at Bishop Noll and Griffith, and girls assistant at Griffith — joined as an assistant coach. Wilson comes over from Boone Grove to coach the junior varsity team.
“This staff really meshes well together. Our personalities. Joe is the philosopher, Mr. Jeopardy guy. He’s the historian. A great guy to work with,” Gabor said. “Candy fits in really well. She’s a good resource for the girls. Between the three of us we all have different ideas and similar ideas, which is a good thing.”
The coaches bounce those ideas around.
“There are areas of basketball he has put in our hands of our areas of expertise,” Gabor said. “I think together, it put less pressure on us and we just work really well.”
Wilson was the head coach for 16 years at Boone Grove before deciding to take on the new challenge.
“I’m not unfamiliar with it; I’ve been a JV coach before, but it’s a little bit different. You have more experience and you appreciate what the head coach is doing a little bit more,” she said. “It’s easier to understand their needs and what you need to do to help them out. We collaborate together. It’s not just one person. It’s a really neat experience so far.”
The group is making the first steps after the Vikings won just three games last season.
“We’ve just got to figure out a way to get kids more committed, make sure we get the best talent we can possibility get in the middle school program and get them excited about basketball. And of course, when you win, like the soccer team has, people want to emulate you. Young kids. I know I was inspired by the older players that had success playing at Valpo High School,” said Otis, who is in his 26th year as a head coach. This is his first season as a girls head coach.
“That’s the kind of culture we want to create. One thing about these girls, it’s not like they don’t know how to win. They just have had trouble. Part of it was youth, I think and a really, really tough schedule.”
The schedule is still tough, but Gabor notices a group that has the right attitude.
“The kids have worked really hard. I think the team chemistry is really good,” Gabor said. “They are improving every minute. I’ve seen progress from the first thing we did (last) Monday to what we are doing here now. Just becoming more of a team, being more professional about things. In a coach’s eyes, that’s always good to see. When you can see it from drill to drill and day to day, that’s really heartwarming.”