Athens boasts young squad
Young coach is back for second season in charge
By Casey Krautkramer
Kyncaide (Diedrich) Keefe begins her second season as Athens varsity girls basketball head coach, after finishing her stellar playing career for the Bluejays and UW-Stout Blue Devils. She admits it was a challenging first season being a head coach.
“Last season was a huge learning curve for me, starting with simply changing my mindset from player to coach,” Keefe said. “I learned my energy and passion for the game of basketball are very contagious, and at this level that’s where it starts to win games. It’s so important to have the athletes wanting to be here, wanting to get better and wanting to have fun playing this game.
“I have learned how to manipulate our game plan to the athletes we have on the basketball court, and I think this will be crucial this season with all the constant quarantines and missing players. It’ll be important for the girls to learn multiple positions on the court to make them more versatile and allow them to play more minutes for our team.”
Athens lost its entire starting lineup from last season’s team, including four players to graduation and one who transferred to another school.
“We have a lot of new faces on our team this season, which is good,” Keefe said. “I have three players in senior Kaitlyn Riehle and juniors Elizabeth Van Rixel and Sierra Hart who are returning to our varsity squad, with two of them starting a few games and putting in a significant amount of minutes on the court. The majority of girls on our team this season are sophomores and freshmen, so I’m looking for some of them to step up into playing big roles for us this season.”
The makeup of players on the Athens varsity girls basketball team will look very similar to how the school’s varsity volleyball squad this fall.
“When you are in such a small school, you usually see some familiar faces from sport to sport playing at the varsity level,” Keefe said. “I’d like to say the younger girls already dealt with their growing pains during the volleyball season, and they shook off their ‘varsity jitters,’ but there are differences between the two sports.
“The pace of the game, the athletes they will be facing and our game plan will be different from what they are used to doing; this will require some learning for them. I hope my players with varsity playing experience step up and make this an easy transition for our newbies, seeing as we’ll be needing some of them at the varsity level.”
Emily Roesler is the girls junior varsity coach, Danielle Diedrich the JV2 coach and Briana (Lavicka) Handschke as varsity assistant coach. Athens plays its first game this Monday, Dec. 7, at Nekoosa.