BY KEN MORSE
The new Woodland girls basketball coach Jenn Deeley has been around the game long enough to realize that strong competitors can beat any opponent at any time. She guided the Kennedy Eagles for 19 seasons (2001-2019), leading them to the 2009 NVL championship and reaching the finals before finishing as league runner-up to Holy Cross in 2016.
Last season she came home to Sacred Heart, where she graduated in 1992 as the all-time girls scorer with 1,351 points. But her coaching debut for her Alma mater was just one season as Sacred Heart closed at the end of the school year.
Even after hearing the devastating news of the school’s closing, Deeley managed to light a spark in her team and they finished 7-3 overall and 6-2 in the Brass Division.
The veteran coach will be back on the sidelines this season leading a veteran group of Hawks led by four seniors.
“I knew I wanted to continue coaching girls basketball at the high school level,” said Deeley. “I wanted to continue to be an influence and a role model for high school student-athletes. The Woodland position opened and I’m fortunate to get this opportunity.”
Deeley will have assistant coach Ernie Blue, with 13 years experience at Kennedy and Sacred Heart, along with assistant Stan Stasaitis with over 20 years at Sacred Heart, along with her on the sidelines.
“There is always a transition phase when a new coaching staff takes over,” said Deeley. “However, given our extensive experience as players and coaches in the NVL, I’m sure it will not be too disruptive. We will do the best with what we have. We will maximize our talent and be a very competitive team.”
Deeley takes over for Jess Moffo, who resigned after a 10-year run with the Hawks, where she led them to seven state tournament appearances. Woodland put up a 25-13 mark over the last two seasons and had a rotation of nine players that logged varsity minutes.
“Our goal is to always challenge our team,” said Deeley. “And to encourage them to challenge themselves. The goal is to be productive on both sides of the ball. When we meet these goals, our team will take it to the next level.”
“It’s an intense 32-minute game of fast paced quarters. You cannot focus on just one aspect. Defense is critically important, but we still need players to put the ball in the basket with high percentage shots.”
Woodland did face Sacred Heart once last season in the NVL quarterfinals and the Hawks prevailed. In the semifinals against Holy Cross, the Hawks dropped a tough decision and finished 10-5. Casey Mulligan earned All-NVL honors and Riley Kane garnered All-Copper.
“Every team has an opportunity to get better everyday,” added Deeley. “When you improve every time you take the court, you make yourself a strong competitor, and strong competitors can beat any opponent at any time.”
“At the end of the season, I hope we had a team that worked hard, worked together, and was successful academically, personally, and on the court. And, of course, who does not want to hang a banner in March?”
BY KEN MORSE