by Denny Seitz
Coaching Girls Basketball Is Family Affair At Pine Valley
When the lady Panthers cagers presented Nobles with a shoe instead of a rose at their last home game several years ago, they were making an admission that most teams would hesitate to make under the most trying of circumstances – namely that they might need a kick in the rear end from their coach every once in a while.
And Nobles took their advice to heart.
Don’t misunderstand. The Pine Valley coach will never be mistaken for Bobby Knight because of his newfound “toughness.” But the event was one that Nobles will readily admit made an impression on him.
“I think I became a lot tougher after that,” said Nobles. “I looked at it as a sign from the players that they wanted the discipline and wanted me to be more demanding.”
Nobles has been more demanding and the results are tough to argue with.
With his team just a heartbeat away from a State title, Nobles no longer needs to second-guess his tactics.
“One thing I know for sure is that I’m a lot more confident as a coach now,” said Nobles. “Every year that I’ve coached I’ve learned something. Someone once told me that “the more you learn, the more you realize that there’s a lot you don’t know.” I think if you don’t have that attitude the game will pass you by.
The game almost passed Nobles by in a different manner many years ago. After graduating from Fredonia State in 1979, Nobles served as a substitute teacher in the Pine Valley school district for more than a year before a full-time position opened up. In that span of time, several teaching positions out-of-state opened up, but Nobles opted to stay close to home. It was a decision that many Pine Valley girls basketball followers are undoubtedly happy about.
Along with the teaching position that eventually opened up, came an offer to coach as well.
“When I was offered and given the teaching job, I was told that there were basketball openings for junior high boys, jayvee boys and varsity girls,” said Nobles. “(Pine Valley boys basketball coach) Jerry Skurcenski said to take the girls job, so I did.
In Nobles first year at the helm for the Lady Panthers, he guided the squad to a record of 16-3. Not coincidentally, two of the better players on that team were named Sandy Nobles and Joanne Crowell. The two names – Nobles and Crowell – have become synonymous with Pine Valley girls basketball ever since.
Several years later, another Crowell made her mark on the Lady Panthers’ record books. When Teresa Crowell excelled for Pine Valley in the mid 80’s, there were few who were surprised.
Her hard work on the court, her dedication and love for the game were among the reasons why Nobles considered Teresa for the junior varsity girls basketball job when it opened in 1985, a year after she had graduated from Pine Valley. Then a sophomore at Fredonia State, Crowell had never entertained the thought of being a coach. But, in her mind, she was left with no other choice when nobody else applied for the job.
The combination of Nobles and Crowell proved to be a match made in heaven - in more ways than one.
“She was perfect for the position,” said Nobles. “Because she played for me, she knew the system well and she knew what I expected from the kids.”
Teresa then became Nobles’ wife in 1987, two years after beginning as his junior varsity coach.
What’s it like having a husband-wife coaching tandem?
“There’s a lot more advantages than disadvantages,” said Tim. “We now run the Pine Valley seventh and eighth grade programs together. We sit at home and talk basketball day and night. I hate to say it’s our life, but basketball takes up an awful lot of our time.”
“I never thought basketball would be that important to me, but it is,” Teresa said. “Tim and I have a lot of the same philosophies about the sport.”
Among the shared philosophies between the Nobles’ is the junior varsity is just a training ground.
“Having Teresa as the jayvee coach is great because she’ll be the first one to admit that the jayvees is for learning and that winning shouldn’t be so important,” said Tim. “In a lot of cases, the junior varsity coach will get upset if the varsity coach brings up a player in the middle of the season. Teresa isn’t like that. Having her as the jayvee coach helps out so much because she and I end up going to both the jayvee and varsity practices.”
There are other benefits as well.
Not only does Teresa study game films about upcoming opponents, but she also will study specific players on other teams and those players’ tendencies.
“Sometimes practice can be tough,” said Teresa. “But I know what Tim expects of me. I’ll study the tapes and then I’ll imitate the top players so the first team can be prepared for them. One week, I’ll have to imitate Melanie Darling and the next week I’ll be Tanya Wasylink.”
Evidently the strategy works. And the fact that this husband-wife coaching duo have met with nothing but success is a major reason why the Pine Valley Lady Panthers are just two wins away from a state championship.