Since taking over as head coach of the Chestatee girls’ basketball team prior to the 2005-06 season, coach Web Daniel has worked diligently at creating a program.
“Starting with the sixth graders at Chestatee Middle, we have the girls run the plays we run in high school,” said the fourth-year coach Daniel.
“The coaches of our middle school teams come to our camps and listen to our philosophies and try to make sure the younger girls are on board.
“We want to teach them the ways before they get here.”
This season his worked paid off.
Boasting the same crop of talent that was on last year’s 12-14 team, Chesatee (17-12) not only finished the season with a winning record for the first time in the program’s seven-year history, but won more games than it ever had and reached the state playoffs for the first time. As if that weren’t enough, the Lady War Eagles pulled off a stunning 37-36 first-round upset of then third-ranked Franklin County.
For his efforts, Daniel is The Times 2009 Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
“For the first time the girls believed in me,” said Daniel of his team’s state playoff win. “They looked at me at halftime and said, ‘Coach, keep doing it.’ They stuck to the gameplan we’d put in front of them and got the win.”
That gameplan was simple: Slow down the pace so Franklin County, a team that was at the time averaging 62 points per game, would get limited shot attempts.
“We also wanted to spread them out and make them play man-to-man because we knew they didn’t have an answer inside for Peyton (Robertson),” Daniel said. “After Chelsea (Wilson) hit a couple of 3s, they keyed on her and left Peyton open, so she took over from there.”
A good season isn’t the pinnacle for Daniel, however, it’s just the beginning.
After spring break he will begin working with next year’s team, which should return all players but lone senior Jessica Porter. He will guide them through individual workouts and weight training, all the while acclimating the rising ninth graders to life on the high school courts.
“We’re not where we want to be yet,” Daniel said. “So the offseason is important.”
The offseason is also a time for bonding, which Daniel points to as a key to this year’s successes.
“These girls and their parents were just amazing,” Daniel said. “We like hanging out with each other and they were all just a joy to be around. They’re already coming in my office and saying, ‘Coach, we miss basketball, when can we start again?’”
The first priority for Daniel is getting his team ready to compete next season, then comes getting himself ready. As he’s done the past few years, Daniel will go to clinics and watch basketball games with his assistants, all the while learning how to be a better coach than he was before.
“We want to learn,” Daniel said. “I don’t make up anything that you see on the court, but instead gather, from all kinds of sources, things that will help my team — which is the ultimate goal.”