Congratulations Pat and the team...
Great news nephew Pat ; he was made the Coach of the year by the Dixon Telegraph Sports writers. Was a great year for the Oregon Girls Basketball program; last night rather than naming an outstanding Athlete of the year as which is usually done; Pat chose to name all the girls as outstanding and gave them each a keepsake booklet of all the news articles printed about them and pictures. His wife, Chris worked this up no doubt, they all appreciated getting it. They will have fun at reunions years down the road reliving the old memories and looking at the booklets given them. There were about 100 people who came, family members, team members, coaches and some devout fans who were given special invitations. a wonderful evening for them all!
First time's a charm for first-year coach
BY TY REYNOLDS SVS REPORTER firstname.lastname@example.orgA year ago, Pat Donahue offered his services as a volunteer assistant for the Oregon girls basketball team.This season he went a step further and became the head coach. The result? The Hawks tied the school record for wins and brought home the second regional title in school history. For his and the Hawks' accomplishments, Donahue is the 2008 Sauk Valley Newspapers coach of the year."The season's still really a blur," Donahue said. "I was very lucky to come into a situation where the kids were hungry, they were craving for some good attention, and they just wanted some tools to try to go out and do the best they could. I guess they did."Thing is, Donahue wasn't even considered for the job at first. He spent last season watching from the stands as daughter Bethany played her junior season. At the postseason awards banquet last March, the parents were told that the candidate the school was pursuing to take over the program for the 2007-08 season had decided to go elsewhere.So Donahue approached assistant coach Rich Fritz and asked if something needed to be done to help the girls prepare during the offseason while the Oregon administration searched for a new coach.Eventually, with some prodding by a few people around town and the blessing of his wife and daughter - "He asked me how I felt about it, and I said, 'You're perfect for it, go ahead,' " Bethany said - he met with Oregon principal Jeff Schad to discuss becoming the head coach.Stressing that he was just a short-term solution - "The ultimate goal is to get a person in the school, a young person with some energy, someone who really wants to build up the program for a long time, and I told Jeff, 'I'm not your guy. I think I can do a good job for you, but I'm not your long-term answer,' " Donahue said - he enlisted the help of Fritz and Dan Engelkes to help him revive a program that hadn't won 20 games since the 2000-01 season.Donahue and his staff started slowly, telling the girls not to worry about the big goals until some of the little things were in place."Winning wasn't our immediate goal. We wanted to change the kids' attitudes, put in some structure and give them hope to succeed," Donahue said. "Our goal was to try to create a team environment, get them to play hard and compete at the highest level they could. That's all we wanted to do."They succeeded. The Hawks (22-10) went on to win almost as many games this season as in the previous two seasons combined (23), matching that 2000-01 team for most wins and a regional crown.So what was the secret to the success for Oregon's second new head coach in as many seasons? The big word around the program was fun.Donahue's engaging personality and laid-back style were familiar to the girls, most of whom he coached as they were growing up. His ability to connect to his players and help them find the right combination of fun and hard work on and off the court proved to be invaluable.Donahue said Bethany was the reason he considered the job in the first place, but there was more to it than that.In fact, the addition of juniors like Kelsey Kleveland and Erin Pederson, along with a breakout year from junior Carissa Oelke, forced him to take away some of his daughter's court time. But decisions like that endeared him even more to his team."I respected the decision," Bethany said. "The juniors, the girls that played, they really got it done. Those were the types of tough decisions and things I knew he was good at, and I knew he'd do a good job and everybody would respect him."With his daughter and niece, Sarah Corcoran, both on the team, there was never a question of closeness with this group."No one really got jealous of anyone, there was no ego, and we always had each other's back," Corcoran said. "We've just always been like that. We're not a selfish team at all; we just want what's best for the whole team."It's not that Donahue handled the Hawks with kid gloves - like any coach, he did his share of raising his voice when the situation called for it - but it was less about winning and losing and more about the girls having a good time playing a sport they loved.The first thing Donahue did when he got the head coaching job was address the girls, telling them it was their team, not his, and it was up to them what the season would bring. His door was always open to the players, and he knew the best way to get things rolling in the right direction was letting them play the game and learn on the fly."You felt comfortable with him, playing for him. If you made a mistake, you didn't get taken out and get yelled at. He let us play the game," Corcoran said. "He didn't care if you made mistakes; as long as you went 100 percent, he was happy with you. You felt comfortable and relaxed and you could play the game with no worries."The results were almost instantaneous. The Hawks won 15 of their first 17 games and advanced all the way to the title game at the Dixon Christmas Classic."It was kind of fun at the beginning of the year because we kept winning our games, and we just kind of went with it," Fane said. "We really didn't know what to expect because it wasn't like that last year, when we got down low fast. This year, we just kept winning and winning, and the next thing you know we did really well in the Dixon tournament and our record was good. Halfway through the season, we knew we could do something awesome."Using their aggressive, hard-nosed, defense-first style, the Hawks beat Rockford Christian Life and Hampshire in low-scoring affairs to take home the Class 2A Hampshire Regional title.And even after a 43-32 loss to Newman in the Oregon Sectional semifinals ended their season, the Hawks could still look back and revel in their complete turnaround - a season that will go down as one of the two best in school history - and the way they went about doing it."We had a good time, that's for sure. We thought we could implement a certain amount of discipline, but when it was time to let up, we let up and let them enjoy it," Donahue said. "I think we as a group, including the girls and the coaching staff, did a real nice job this season. They surpassed our expectations. Once they got to a certain point, we let them decide what they wanted to go get and what they were willing to be satisfied with, and they wanted more. They were hungry all year, and it was the girls who made the adjustments and won the games, not us coaches."