Ebensburg resident Crystal Horton, a former St. Francis University women's basketball assistant coach, was recently named Bishop Carroll Catholic High School's new girls basketball coach.
"It feels incredible to be named the new coach at Bishop Carroll," Horton said. "I've been waiting a very long time for something this ideal to open up. After taking a three-year break from coaching, I am elated for this opportunity to get back on the hardwood and impacting the lives of our student athletes. I am very thankful to Bishop Carroll, principal Lorie Ratchford and all of the BC faculty and staff for extending this excellent opportunity to bring a positive change to the girls basketball program."
Horton graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Management from Cedarville University in Ohio, earned her undergraduate in biblical studies from the university and was a two-year varsity letter winner for the Division II women's basketball team.
Also a two-year varsity letter-winner for the women's basketball program at Geneva College before going to Cedarville, Horton was a two-time all-state basketball player at her high school, St. Michael's Academy, in Austin, Texas, where she and her teams won three state championships in 1998, 1999 and 2001. She was an assistant at St. Francis from August 2008 to May 2009 and at Central Michigan University from August 2006 to May of 2007.
Horton takes over a program led by Dan Sammarco since 2008. Sammarco's 2011-12 squad finished 6-10 in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference. The school's basketball program has won three state championships.
"Bishop Carroll basketball is excellence," Horton said. "The tradition here has been about striving for excellence in every aspect of life. It seems that when you are living your life with the mindset of achieving excellence it floods every area that you touch."
Knowing where the basketball program has been, Horton has high hopes for this season.
"We can be all that they put in the work to be," she said. "All I ask is that they give their best every day; strive for excellence on and off the court. We can be the program that people look to and admire."
Horton said she believes in teaching the art of intense and effective defensive strategies and believes great offense comes from solid defensive stops.
"To teach defense first is a tough task," she said. "But, it's a task that leaves the athlete knowing that they have accomplished something other than scoring. I do not believe in just outscoring the other team. What good is it to score but not be able to stop the other team? Basketball is a platform to share my passion for the game but also to impact lives for God that I may not have anywhere else. I by no means enforce my convictions and passion for God on any one person but my love for God and His love for others in me is my driving force to succeed and encourage others to do the same."
Married to Ti-mirr (TJ) for five years, the couple has three children, Nehemiah (4), Moriyah (3) and Josiah (1).
"We are so excited to have Crystal on board," Ratchford said. "She brings so much energy, experience and is ready to teach our girls about more than just basketball. We feel strongly she is the right fit for Bishop Carroll basketball and are anxious for the winter season."