Dave McKnight said that he'll stress the team concept as he begins his first season as the Philipsburg-Osceola High School boys basketball coach next winter.
McKnight, 51, who has taught high school English at P-O for the past 27 years and has two decades of coaching experience in the school system from the elementary level through the high school levels, was hired as the Mounties' new boys basketball coach at Philipsburg-Osceola's June school board meeting.
McKnight - who served as Missy (Witters) Helsel's varsity girls basketball assistant coach at P-O the past two years, after serving 11 seasons as a varsity boys assistant basketball coach at the school under three different head coaches - thinks that every player on a basketball team fills a valuable role, and he plans to emphasize that as the varsity boys' head coach.
"All the kids are important to our program, and I'm going to stress that every kid on the team fill their [designed] roles,'' McKnight said. "Whatever role fits that player, it's important that they accept their roles and do the best they can in order to make the whole team better.''
Team improvement will be another objective for the P-O boys program, which has won only one game over the last two seasons combined.
"I want to build a program, a solid, fundamental program, that the community can embrace and be proud of, because it's been a long haul,'' McKnight said.
McKnight has a good nucleus of three returning starters and several players who played key reserve roles last year, around which to build. McKnight gave credit to departing P-O coach Mel Curtis, who resigned after last season, for getting a variety of returning players plenty of playing time.
"Mel did a fine job of getting a lot of the kids playing experience, and he didn't leave the cupboard bare,'' said McKnight, who also coached at Penn State camps for high school players, and also volunteered his time coaching on the elementary and junior high levels at P-O. "Now, we have to just take it from here.''
P-O athletic director Lee Fisher believes that McKnight, who was hired from a pool of eight applicants, is the top candidate for that task.
"Dave has a basketball background, and a lot of coaching experience,'' Fisher said. "He teaches in our school system, and he has a good rapport with the students. He's a good man for the position, and he's definitely earned a shot at it.''