New Central coach adjusting to challenges
Q and A
TYRONE — New Central girls basketball coach Drew Ebersole finally made his debut leading the young Lady Dragons in a Mountain League rivalry game against District 6 Class 4A power Tyrone on Wednesday.
Ebersole has had to deal with taking over a team with just two returning letterwinners and only one returning starter during a worldwide pandemic.
He took over the Dragons’ program from Rob Mock, who went 102-44 in six seasons and led the team to a 17-6 mark a season ago.
Central was scheduled to begin its season Jan. 12, but COVID-19 issues led to another week shutdown of athletics before the season could finally start.
Ebersole, who graduated from Central in 2009 and played baseball at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown until 2013, caught up with the Mirror’s Michael Boytim prior to his team’s first game in Tyrone.
Q: What’s it been like being a new coach during a pandemic and leading a team with so few returning letterwinners?
A: “It’s been different to say the least. We haven’t even practiced in a week and a half. We’re really relying on the kids and their fundamentals and things they have learned in previous years to really fall back on in these early games. It has been really difficult and different, especially from my standpoint. We really want to be prepared as possible for each game, but we’re talking on the bus setting up plans and even putting in plays, so it’s a lot different than I expected.”
Q: What’s your athletic background?
A: “I played football, basketball and baseball at Central and went on to play baseball at UPJ.”
Q: What are the expectations for the season? I know your team is young, but obviously Central has a strong history in girls basketball.
A: “Our expectations stay the same as a program. The way I look at it is that we have nothing to lose. We’re trying to have fun, and we’re trying to grow as a team. We have a young team, and the hope is that we have this same core back next year and we can build off the progress we make this season. From the standpoint of coaching, we’re giving these kids quite a challenge, and as a coach, when you challenge kids you want to see how they respond. If they respond positively, it’s going to have a great impact for them moving forward, not only as an athlete but as a person.”
Q: How tough has it been on you and the players mentally to have your season pushed back, rescheduled and then postponed again the night before you were supposed to play?
A: “You just have to deal with it and keep moving on, and I think that’s just the expectation going into this season. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I sat down to make dinner for my wife the night before our game and checked my phone and we’re canceled and off for a week. It’s something you have to take day by day and just go from there.”
Q: How excited are you to finally get started?
A: “I’m really excited. It’s a lot different being a coach than being a player. I think I’m more nervous now than I ever was being a player, but as nervous as I am, I’m even more excited.”