//PICTURED ABOVE: Melanie Horn-Foster, new Varsity Basketball coach, coaches the 8th grade basketball PE class while the students play knockout. Foster joined the Varsity Basketball coaching staff for the 2019-20 season alongside Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach, LaBoris Bean. The pair hope to advance the program with their new theme of unity and strong work ethic.
It’s SPC of 2019. The Varsity Basketball players dribble and shoot their hardest, but fall to The John Cooper School in a challenging game, losing a place in the Southern Preparatory Conference basketball rankings.
Although the loss was disappointing, the basketball program persevered and has made changes to build the team from the ground up for this season.
Coach Melanie Horn-Foster is being introduced as the new varsity basketball coach in hopes that she can build on the positive team culture that will unite the players on and off the courts. Foster previously coached Middle School basketball and volleyball at Hockaday and understands the sport and how Hockaday athletics operates.
Noticing how Foster has assisted the athletics program and her passion for coaching, Director of Athletics Deb Surgi said Foster will mesh well with the basketball team.
“I always want the best instructional leadership for any Hockaday team,” Surgi said. “I watched Coach Foster coach Middle School basketball, I’ve watched her in Middle School volleyball, I’ve watched her assist me in a myriad of other ways. I value her enthusiasm, her work ethic. I value her knowledge of basketball, but also her willingness to be a lifelong learner.”
This love of learning is seen in Foster’s upcoming appointment with Kim Mulkey, Baylor University’s Women’s Basketball Coach, where she will observe Baylor’s basketball practice and have a one-on-one training session with Mulkey to learn different playing strategies and building team dynamics.
This season Foster said she hopes to build the basketball program by making it enjoyable for the girls and creating a good environment for players to grow as athletes.
“I want to teach playing with heart, playing with spirit, being excited to play for Hockaday, trustin the system, the program and the coaches, respect for one another and the different coaching styles that there are,” Foster said. “Just having a great experience for the girls, I want them to be able to love basketball as much as I do, so that is one of my goals to instill into the program.”
Surgi said one of the athletic department’s main goals is to build a sense of community in the athletic program. This season, one of Surgi and Foster’s primary goals is to incorporate unity into the basketball program.
Especially with the abundance of multi-sport athletes at Hockaday, Surgi said the Athletics Department wants to make basketball a sport that attracts athletes who play multiple sports. This growing sense of community on the basketball team has the potential to attract new players and make them feel welcome in the program, she said.
“I think what I am looking for in a basketball program at Hockaday is positive team culture, culture that is going to build community around basketball, teach the fundamental game of basketball, draw students out,” Surgi said. “We have a lot of multi-sport athletes playing basketball and representing Hockaday, and we want a culture that will attract them.”
Varsity basketball captain Claire Tate said the basketball team is entering the season with a positive mindset and growing from past seasons, not letting anything hold them back. She said she wants the team to use its past obstacles as inspiration for the new season to propel the team to success.
“One of our most important goals of this season is to strengthen the sense of unity among our teams,” Tate said. “We want the atmosphere among teams to be positive no matter what obstacles we might come across.”
Although winning is an objective for any basketball team, Foster said the players want to make team unity equally important. The team has already met up for preseason practices to meet new players and get to know future teammates. Additionally, the team plans to work together on social impact activities. If the team is able to build connections and integrity among themselves, then it will be easier to work together cohesively, Foster said.
“My plan for this basketball season is definitely to build team unity, to build the rapport of the basketball program at Hockaday,” Foster said. “Of course, we want to win, but that is not going to be our only priority.”
Story by Erin Parolisi
Photo by Arushi Mukherjee