January 24th, 2013

Hyland's Heroes: Angie Staley

Kay Whelan

Staff Writer


Hyland's Heroes: Angie Staley
Coach Angie Staley, left, with her Notre Dame Academy basketball team / photo from Angie Staley

New to coaching, Staley thriving with her NDA student-athletes

The following feature is a part of a weekly series, sponsored by Hyland, Block & Hyland. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports. Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

I am guessing this is not the first time, and surely it won’t be the last, but this year’s CSAA 8th grade boys’ basketball program is blessed to have a female in its coaching ranks. Notre Dame Academy 7th grade teacher Angela Staley is guiding the No. 4 team through the basketball season this year. It’s really a great story of an “army brat” that lived in many countries, but attended Junior High in Schweinfurt, Germany and experienced high school in Mons, Belgium.

Angela did have experience playing sports in those foreign lands as she played basketball, volleyball, softball and tennis; but coaching is something completely new to her. Being the parent of an eighth grade son, Matthew, this has to make for some magnificent dinner table conversation. And though she indicates in so many words that she is going through this experience “by the seat of her pants,” it is all the better of an experience for everyone merely by her presence.

When and how did you get your start with the CSAA? Why so?
The answer will become clearer as you’ll discover upon further reading.

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved?
Brian McCauley (the NDA Athletic Director) left a somewhat panicked voicemail for me, asking if I was interested in coaching the boys this year. Initially, I thought he must have misdialed. After replaying the voicemail and clearly hearing, "Hello, Ms. Staley" I owed him a return call, at least. I prepared to share with Brian a long list of the many after school activities, work related projects, parenting commitments and well, TV time, that would prevent me, from in any way, having the time to coach. My approach and my well thought out excuse crumbled quickly after he shared these words, "The boys will not have a team because there isn't a coach."  So, here we are; almost tournament time....and coaching has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

What sports did you coach and for how long?
This is my first coaching opportunity and since I've caught the bug, it will not be my last! As an army brat, my family moved every two-three years. I discovered early on that joining clubs, volunteering after school and most importantly, playing sports, were the easiest ways to transition into a new school, make friends and compete. My parents (Bill & Heidi) were perfect coaches for my siblings and me, in all facets of our growth.

What's the connection with your faith and giving your time to these young student athletes?
As a Catholic educator, and approaching Catholic Schools week, I'm reminded often of the "why" we all work and coach. It's lovely to start each game with a prayer, a personal goal and to be surrounded by supportive parents. All of the NDA coaches are amazing in ensuring that our student-athletes play in a special environment. Mr. Ketterer has been a tremendous help to our team, as well. I have known many of these boys since they were in Mrs. Stewart's Pre-K program and now they're turning into my little "beasts on the court" and it's worth every minute.

Side note--thank you to the NDA family that bought our team some skivvies (the boys quickly taught me to call them this, as I apparently, was incorrectly referring to them as "pennies").

Who was the most influential person on your coaching career? Why?
My coaching "career" is just beginning so I'll reflect on a coach that has motivated me to work hard, when trying "new things”. I joined Real Fighters in January of 2010 hoping to shed some Christmas weight. I didn't realize that Muay Thai and kickboxing would change my life. Eric Haycraft (owner/coach) actually teaches, while motivating you. It's not just some program or course you muddle through. There is a lesson plan, a specific focus and most importantly, we drill the basics, over and over and over again. Muscle memory is the key. This method is what I am trying to bring to our practices, to a team filled with eager kiddos, trying new things. Thank you, Eric.

What are your major themes/principles as a coach?
I often catch myself saying, "You play like you practice," during school activities with my students (such as Quick Recall practices, during Y Club debates, even at the SuperEnviro meetings). This theme has definitely been woven into all of our practices; the good, the bad and the ugly.

As an inexperienced, young team blessed with athleticism, height (yes, we have a six-footer), speed and a ton of smart cookies, my principles are as follows: fundamentals, first. Skills, second. Aggressiveness, always. And, catch the ball!

Well, and at the core, our philosophy is to have fun. We giggle as often as we run our "Big Boy suicides". The boys enjoy each others’ company while slaying "five minute steps.” As their thighs are on fire from "clothes pin defense," smiles wash over their faces. We often heehaw during planks, push-ups and wall jumps. It's a level of kindness, support, and encouragement that we expect our students to demonstrate at school. I'm lucky to have a group of young men that do it on the court, as well. I am so proud to be their coach.

What does coaching bring to you, your family?
First and foremost, I'm overwhelmed at how giddily nervous I am before each practice or game and how loopy, exhausted and happy I leave, after each one. I love it!

Being close to my son, heading out to practices together, digesting new skills, praising new accomplishments and watching him improve is just awesome. Having Matt's grandparents, siblings, cousins--the entire clan--come watch him play, is beautiful. But, for me, having my boy play on a team that his momma is coaching warms my heart. And, Matt's so beat down tired after practice, bed time is a cinch.

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of coaching?

  • An extraordinary specimen of pure strength, speed, endurance and determination, this particular 7th grader has never played basketball. He didn't know what a foul shot was or where the foul line was located. During our first game of the Christmas tournament, he sank both of his free throws. Biggest smile I've seen on that kiddo all year!
  • Before each game we share a personal goal. Last weekend, an 8th grader wanted to put the ball up, once, just once, as he hadn't taken a shot yet, all season. After a quick fast break I see him hustle down the court, moving as swiftly as I've ever seen. He catches the pass and throws up the ball. It goes completely over the goal, touching nothing, and hits the back wall, hard. The gym is silent. Players and refs are just sort of frozen in place. This wonderful young man turns to the bench, makes eye contact with me, his smile beaming from cheek to cheek and he mouths, "I made my goal." Wow. What a moment! The rebel yell of "good job" that echoed out from me, almost uncontrollably, solidified why I love coaching these boys. I need them. I heart this team. Go Saints!
  • "I feel skinnier already..." -- A player shares with me, the next day at school, after our first practice. I laugh as his teammate adds, "...but I can't feel my calf muscles."
  • Being called "coach", something I've said, heard and made sure to spell correctly (not couch) for 20-plus years, makes me beam with pride.
  • “Practice today was not fun! We didn’t even scrimmage…just did a bunch of basic drills,” shared a 7th grader with me. Umm…yes!
  • Receiving an email, from a parent whose child I teach, but do not coach, stating, "I'm hearing good things about you, Staley." That made my day!
 

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