By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Even though she hasn’t coached since the 1980s and is now in charge of a very young girls basketball team, Kathleen Jester is making the most of the situation.
The Westbrook coach, retired from the Etowah County Board of Education for almost six years, got out of coaching almost 30 years ago. But that’s not what she wants people to see.
Instead, Jester wants fans to see the enthusiasm and “don’t quit” attitude of her team.
“We are losing games right now,” she said. “But no matter how far down we are, they are giving me 100 percent on every play. I think that bodes well for the future.”
With no seniors and only two juniors, the Warriors are young indeed. There is even an eighth-grader starting for the Rainbow City squad.
Junior point guard Lorien Welch is the leading scorer thus far and is providing key leadership. Sophomore Abby Lockridge is the 3-point shooter and junior Kennedy Vice is the starting post player.
“They’re really doing a good job of playing as a team,” Jester said. “As they get experience, I think we’ll be okay. It’s just going to take some time.”
One drawback is a lack of depth as only nine players are eligible. Jester has two ineligible players – transfers from other schools – that are helping at practice.
“If not for them, we couldn’t even scrimmage,” the coach said. “We truly can’t afford any major injuries.”
After so many years, there are some fundamental changes that Jester is getting used to. One is the motion offense, which the Warriors used last season.
“That’s an offense that wasn’t around way back when,” she said with a laugh. “But I’ve been with them long enough now that I’m learning that offense and I’m starting to throw in some things that fit the personnel.”
One thing she has worked on already is a new press break.
“They were having a lot of trouble with breaking presses early on,” Jester said. “And they’re all so young that they panicked easily. Now they’re coming round and starting to learn.”
Jester only started with Westbrook about a week before the first game.
Assistant coach Antron Brookins was in charge of the team until her start.
“Antron is wonderful,” Jester said. “If not for him and his help, there’s no telling what might’ve happened. And he’s helped me ease back into it.”
Westbrook’s Class 2A, Area 11 competition includes Gaston, West End and Sand Rock.