New Starters Bring Flexibility, Freshness


Pete Skylakos

Leyden vs Montini 2016

What does a coach do when all his starters graduated the year before? Coach Bill Heisler is currently facing this dilemma this season. “Absolutely, when you lose guys that have been in your program and know what to expect and know what it takes to win at the varsity level; replacing that can be a challenge. I do think that this year’s new kids bring a nice, fresh, new energy to our program, and I do think that we have enough guys that had minutes last year and contributed last year that blending those things will make us successful as those new guys learn what it takes to win.” One of those new players is sophomore Ocean Johnson. “It feels good to be on varsity knowing that I’m the only sophomore, and it also makes me feel proud because of the hard work I put in. At first I was thinking about trying to fit in with others, but the team makes me feel welcome because they know they can trust me with the ball.” Johnson said.

Leyden vs Montini – Picture of Ocean Johnson, 10, taken by Pete Skylakos

Heisler also stressed that this new group is easy to work with. For him, it’s because they are interchangeable and flexible with positions. “This year we can go pretty deep in our lineup, which helps dramatically especially since we’re five out and the pieces are kind of interchangeable”.

For basketball, as with all winter sports, a challenge is that multiple sport athletes cannot begin to train until the fall ends. “We have a lot of multi-sport guys, which we encourage and think is great, but, you know, you get two weeks to get everything in from the time fall sports end until basketball starts. So the guys who weren’t around in the summer are at a huge disadvantage,”  stated Heisler.

Despite new starters and a late start, however, Heisler knows the team can find success. “From a coaching standpoint, we’re trying to get our guys better everyday. I mean that’s our goal, that at the end of the year we should have a better product than we do when we started.” He also explained that he knows improvement isn’t the only thing players want. “But, for the guys, you know we’re going to try to win one of the tournaments we’re in, bring home some hardware. If we do those things, it’s a successful year.”

Leyden is very eager to see what our Varsity Boys Basketball team does this year. Don’t forget to attend their games and show your support!