Momo LaClair & Paige Stepanian
On Nov. 16 the Jamesville-DeWitt High School Freshmen Boys Basketball team took on the Westhill Warriors. This was a bittersweet game for Head Coach Denise Becher, who coached the Westhill Freshman Boys basketball team for 15 years before taking over the team this year here at J-DHS. It was tough for her to play against the kids she’s been coaching for so long and had developed relationships with. “It’s hard because you want to win, but you also want to respect the kids on the other team,” said Coach Becher. Even though this particular game was the season opener, it was a relief for her to get it out of the way.
So far, Becher’s transition from coaching at Westhill to here at J-DHS has been smooth. “The transition has been really easy, there are very similar students, parents, schools,” said Becher. J-DHS Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach Jeff Ike and Becher had been discussing plans for her to coach here at J-DHS since he got the job as the varsity head coach. So, when the opportunity presented itself this year, she happily stepped up. Coach Becher has worked at J-DHS as a counselor for 12 years and being able to finally coach alongside her colleagues has been a pleasure.
For many of the players, this is their first time having a woman as a coach. Despite the change, the boys are adjusting well and are more than happy to be playing under Coach Becher. “She’s probably the best coach I’ve had so far,” said freshman Marshall Withers. Not only does Withers enjoy Becher as a coach, the rest of the team is enthusiastic about her coaching as well. “She’s harder on us in practice to get us to do better in games, and that shows how good of a coach she really is,” said freshman Ethan Kesselring. The team’s hard work in these practices has paid off in their so far undefeated season.
Both the boys and Coach Becher have enjoyed the season this far. “Basketball is my favorite sport and I just love playing with all the guys,” said freshman Tyler Aitken. Coach Becher has very much enjoyed coaching this particular group of boys. “These kids are mature as a group, they’re dialed in, and everything I say they take in and try to learn,” said Coach Becher. Not only are they focused, but they’re “probably one of the nicest groups of boys I’ve ever coached.”
Coach Becher’s past experiences have really helped her become the coach she is today. In college, she started for the University of Pittsburgh Women’s Basketball team. She also had the option of playing for the University Of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team; however, she chose PITT instead for more playing time. Having played college basketball at an elite level, she has learned so much about coaching. When she played at PITT, Becher’s assistant coach was a major role model for her. “When I was playing, I always knew I wanted to be a coach,” said Becher. She learned a lot from her teammates and coaches at PITT and because of her time there, she has successfully been coaching for almost 30 years now.
With a current record of 7-0, the team hopes to keep their winning streak alive. Their next game is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec.19. Be sure to go out and support!