Two years ago, Crystal Horton took over as coach at Bishop Carroll, one of the premier girls basketball programs in the region over the last 30 years.
The first year didn't go that well - the Lady Huskies only won six times. But things have turned around this season, and 4 months after giving birth to her fourth child, BC is 9-7.
The Mirror's Philip Cmor recently caught up to Horton to talked about balancing coaching with motherhood and turning the Lady Huskies into winners again.
Mirror: You just became a mother for the fourth time a couple of months before the season. How have you been able to juggle coaching with that?
Horton: I have an awesome support system. My husband's doing a great job giving me the freedom to coach and to be at practice and be committed, watch film. You know, doing the groundwork. My assistant coaches have done an awesome job, too. Hailey Carangelo is our new addition to our team and our JV coach, and Julie Kovach is our junior high coach. Dave Link has been volunteering, too. I think that's been the biggest difference this year with having a new baby. I have assistant coaches that believe as much in the program as I do, and they're passionate and want to see it succeed as much as I do.
Mirror: How did you end up at Bishop Carroll?
The Horton file
Name: Crystal Horton
Position: Bishop Caroll girls basketball coach, stay-at-home mom
Career record: 15-24, two years
High School: Austin, Texas, St. Michael's (2001)
College: Cedarville (2006)
Family: Husband-Tamirr (married 7 years). Children-Nehemiah, 6; Moryah, 4; Josiah, 3; Hannah, 4 months
Horton: I coached at St. Francis for a year, then I took a hiatus from coaching when I had my second child. The position opened up in 2012, and I saw it, and I knew I wanted to get back into coaching. I just didn't know how. I just prayed a lot about it. I knew I was going to go for it. I didn't know if I had the experience they were looking for, but they saw something in me that I could bring to the program. They believed in me.
Mirror: Your first year was up and down (the Lady Huskies were 7-17). The program has done so well in the last few decades. Was the school patient with you?
Horton: They were very supportive, everybody from the board members to the administrative staff. I think it was more so just developing a mindset of winning. We struggled last year. It was more trying to instill what it means to win, and not just on the court but in life, as well. We had a successful offseason. We're struggling a little bit now, but we can bounce back. Over the summer, we played at the YMCA in Hollidaysburg. I think that did wonders for our team. We were going up against older women and college-aged athletes. It's been really good for us.
Mirror: Expanding on that, what is the biggest difference on the court? I've seen you've scored 60 even 70 points in competitive games.
Horton: The girls we have are athletic. We can score. We're taking a lot of shots, as well. We're looking to push the ball. I tried to instill that last year, but it's still a new way of playing. We're trying to run as much as we can. Now, it's more so about getting stops. Just playing summer basketball at the Y and seeing how those girls play, they're physical, and they push the ball up. I think that just gave our girls an extra vote of confidence to just come out and attack people. That's what we've been doing the first half of the season. We didn't want to hold back anymore. The girls want to win. That's the biggest difference. It's a mindset of getting stops and then going down and scoring.
Mirror: People take pride in the girls basketball played in central Pennsylvania. How does it compare with Texas, where you played growing up?
Horton: Both are competitive. The team I played on had an opportunity to go to four state championship games, and we won three. It's a lot different, though, because, in Texas, but the private league is different from the public league because there are so many teams. It's so big, there's no way they can merge them. During our preseason, we would play against public schools. Big schools. That's how we built our competition. We did well against those teams. Then we'd get into the private league, and we could dominate. Our coach set us up where we could just run through the private school league. But it's a lot of the same. Girls love basketball, and they love to compete. I see that when we go up against the Bishop Guilfoyles, the Forest Hills, Westmont. The girls love basketball, and the coaches have a passion for teaching the game. That's what inspires me as a young coach. The coaches with more experience give the girls whatever they have.