Skyline Women’s Basketball just started a new season, playing their first game versus Skyview on November 27. The Eagles are transitioning to a new coach after the revered Deb Bennett stepped down last spring, concluding more than two decades of coaching at Skyline. The former assistant coach, Lynette Schroeder, steps up as the women’s new basketball coach.
Former coach Bennett arrived at Skyline in 1994, quickly “putting Skyline on the map” for women’s basketball, as she phrases it. Bennett faced the immense obstacles of ensuring gender equality and generating interest in the fledging program. Later, changing regulations in the sport introduced mounds of paperwork that remain a complaint at the top of any high school coach’s list. When Bennett first started coaching, Title 9, established in 1972, was a comforting reminder that women had the same legal rights as men in organized sports. Unfortunately, the regulation was more a comforting reminder than an enforced law, and Bennett had to fight to give her players equal court practice time among other necessities. Luckily, Bennett had support from players’ families, and the Parent Booster Club soon formed. To this day, the club provides the players with refreshing snacks to keep them energized during a game. Bennett thanks the club for providing a “really good partnership among coaches, parents, and players,” saying, “It’s like a team within a team.” This strong alliance with Bennett at the helm has culminated in a record of 327 wins to 110 losses with 11 region titles and two state championships for 2006 and 2008.
As coaching duties transition from Bennett to Schroeder, Bennett continues to support the women’s basketball program not only as the overall athletic director, but also with specific tasks like managing the copious paperwork. She is thus able to continue guiding the program, saying, “I help behind the scenes.” Bennett has great faith in Coach Schroeder’s abilities, remarking, “Joan’s a program-minded coach, always looking to the future. We expect great things from her.”
Coach Schroeder is looking forward to working with the team in the coming years. “We have very good team chemistry this year,” she says. The team always strives to build trust among the members, and that trust is especially important in this transitional time. Schroeder served as the assistant coach for two years under then-coach Bennett – she’s no stranger to basketball. Before that, she was a personal trainer. Her experience combines one-on-one ability with team coaching know-how to provide the Eagles with a new type of court action. Additionally, Coach Schroeder expresses, “I like to bring in new ideas,” and commits herself to incorporating incoming sophomore players into the team. She works closely with new players to create effective teamwork among all the experience levels.
The team practices every weekday as well as two Saturdays each month. The way a coach conducts practice greatly changes how the players’ performance. Sydnee Taylor, a junior on the varsity team, says “[The transition] has been hard, but it’s getting better. Deb was strict and wanted everything to be perfect. Lynette really works on the fundamentals.” Paige Child, a senior on the varsity team, thinks the transition is smoother than Taylor suggests. She is enthusiastic about having Schroeder as a coach, saying, “Lynette was our junior varsity coach when we were sophomores and juniors. She moved up with us, and it’s nice that she’s our varsity coach.”
The season’s first games were a struggle for the Eagles, who lost to Skyview and then to Brighton. Mia Mortensen, a junior captain of the varsity team, remains optimistic of the team’s potential. “We came together as a team, and we didn’t give up on each other,” she says, “but we have to focus during practice and learn from our mistakes.”
Switching out a veteran coach isn’t easy, but Coach Schroeder is experienced and has the support she needs to guide the team. The strong network among the players, parents, Coach Schroeder, and Athletic Director Bennett makes for a promising year for the Eagles.