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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2017

Witzenburg named girls’ basketball head coach

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Sep 05, 2017
Artwork by: PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN WITZENBURG Brian Witzenburg is the new head coach of the Trojan girls’ basketball team.

Brian Witzenburg will take over for Mick Flattery as Fairfield’s girls’ basketball head coach this season.

Witzenburg’s appointment to the post was made at a school board meeting in August.

Witzenburg was one of Flattery’s assistant coaches during Mick’s six-year reign as head coach, which came to an end earlier this summer when he was announced as the boys’ basketball coach.

Witzenburg is starting his 11th year at Fairfield Middle School, where he has held a variety of jobs such as helping special education students. He is a local boy, having graduated from Pekin High School in 2003, where he played sports nearly year-round. His activities included football, basketball, track and baseball, all of them for four years.

 

Drawn to coach

Witzenburg went to a few colleges before discovering that what he really wanted from life was to get into coaching. The quickest route to that was to start working at a middle school, which is exactly what he did in Fairfield.

The young man was drawn to the profession by his parents, both of whom were coaches. His father, Bob, coached cross-country and girls’ basketball at the former Hedrick High School, and has coached junior high girls’ track at Pekin for the last 35 years.

His mother, Joyce, was quite the athlete, playing on Parsons College’s softball and basketball team and then going on to coach both of those sports later in life. Witzenburg knows a thing or two about softball as well, having been an assistant coach under Bob Bradfield the past three seasons.

 

Mick the mentor

Witzenburg said Flattery was a terrific mentor, and he has every intention of continuing Mick’s coaching style.

“We’re going to look very similar as far as a pressure defense, pushing the ball, an uptempo offense and getting lots of kids in the game,” said the new head coach. “It will be exciting to watch. We are absolutely not going to take the air out of the ball. We’ll be flying up and down the court.”

Witzenburg said the thing that stood out to him about Flattery’s coaching was his preparation, which was “second to none.”

“He works harder than anyone I’ve been around as far as preparing for each team,” Witzenburg said. “He put in a ton of hours. The biggest thing I took from him was his work ethic.”

 

Previewing the team

Witzenburg sees the 2017-18 Trojans as a team that might take lots of three-pointers since it has several skilled marksmen.

“We have some young kids who can shoot it well, and they’ll have the green light to let it fly,” he said.

The Trojans were not able to participate in summer camps like some surrounding teams because they had no head coach for much of the summer, and once Witzenburg was announced, it was time for the girls to concentrate on their fall sports responsibilities. In the meantime, the girls will practice on their own during open gym, until the first day of formal practice in mid-November.

 

Program’s future

Witzenburg said he realizes basketball needs a jolt at the middle school level, where participation numbers are low. He said only about seven or eight girls were on the eighth-grade team last year.

“We need to do some recruiting to get more kids out,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll have enough for a freshman team. We’ll have to talk to people to see if they want to [join the team] and play some basketball.”

The good news for Witzenburg and the Trojans is that they’ll have their leading scorer back in Nicole Buch. The Trojans will also return players with varsity experience such as Ashley Bloomquist, Malory Jones and Kara Jeffrey.

“Those three will be stepping into bigger scoring roles since that big senior class left us,” said the coach.

The senior class Witzenburg is referring to contained four starters: Sami Fritz, Kylie Kurtz, Mikaela Lunsford and Brooke McLain. With their departure, Trojan fans can expect to see plenty of fresh faces on the court, and a familiar face leading them all.

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