Amber Griffith’s coaching staff explains Lady Loco’s magical run

Coaches’ Corner: Special Edition 2/23/17
By: 
GARRETT HARR
Outlook staff writer
Shown from the left are Brett McKee, Rachel Mayes and Dennis Lordemann

The Laurel Outlook recently spoke to the Laurel High School Lady Locomotives freshman coach Rachel Mayes, JV coach Brett McKee and assistant to JV and Varsity coach Dennis Lordemann about the magical last few weeks of girls basketball at LHS.

Rachel Mayes
Rachel Mayes grew up in Laurel and graduated in 2006. During her senior year, she was a part of two teams to take state, in both basketball and softball. Rachel graduated from Montana State University-Billings and has been teaching fourth grade for the last three years.  
1. What do you think culminated in the varsity girls late season run? “I think each of the girls figured out what their role was on the team, which led them to play together as a team. They figured out that they are capable of creating this amazing energy that can make them unstoppable. They began to believe in themselves and each other which resulted to all of them playing at or above their potential.”
2. What is/was your profession? “I am a fourth grade teacher, and also coach eighth-grade basketball.”
3. Why did you choose to coach? “Basketball was a huge part of my life growing up. When the opportunity arose to coach, I jumped on it because I was excited for it to be part of my life again. I have a passion for the game and I enjoy sharing my knowledge of it to young players.”
4. What is your philosophy on developing the young minds of your student/athletes? “My philosophy on education and coaching is that creating relationships is key. I want my students and athletes to know that I care about them and will do my best in helping them reach their goals. I’ve found that if you can establish a positive relationship with one another, they are more willing to work hard for you.”  
5. The varsity squad has a lot of younger athletes on the team. How did you know some of them were ready to play at varsity level? “This was my first year coaching at the high-school level. I coached the freshmen girls, therefore, I can’t say I knew when they were ready for the varsity level. What I can say is, these young girls playing on the varsity team are not afraid to accept the challenge and have added a special spark to the team.”
6. What do you try to teach these girls before they leave high school? “I try to emphasize the reward of always working hard. Anything in life worth having, is going to require hard work. It isn’t always going to be easy or fun, but the end result will always be worth it”.
7. Why are sports important to teenagers? Why do you think they are good for them? “Sports are important to teenagers because they help them build strong character traits that are important in life. Being involved in a sport means you have to show dedication, motivation, teamwork, patience and a positive attitude. Obtaining these qualities at a young age will help anyone be successful with other goals later in life. It also allows them to be part of something positive and to take pride in their hard work.”  
8. Do you remember seniors Dakota Boehler and Rylee Clark when they were younger? If so, what is one of your fondest memories of them? “Unfortunately, I do not have memories of Dakota and Rylee when they were younger, but I have really enjoyed getting to know them throughout this basketball season.  They are both smart and respectful young ladies.”  

Brett McKee
Brett McKee has lived in the Billings area most of his life. He attended MSU Billings majoring in health and physical education. His first coaching job was in Bridger, where he coached basketball, football and junior high track.
Brett then moved to Williston, ND, where he spent two years teaching and coaching football, basketball, and tennis. That was followed by three years in Lewistown teaching and coaching basketball and tennis. Brett is currently in his seventh season with the Laurel girls’ basketball program.
1. What is/was your profession? “I am teacher at Laurel Middle School.  I teach 5-8 health and physical education.”
2. Why did you choose to coach? “I have always had a passion for athletics and competition. I also have a passion for helping others attempt to reach their full potential. I knew in high school that teaching/coaching was the career that would allow me to fulfill these passions. For me, one of the greatest rewards in coaching is seeing a kid overcome challenges, improve and achieve success.”
3. What is one major skill you try to implement in your athletes to prepare them for varsity level? “I have always put an emphasis on team defense, rebounding and beating conference opponents.”
4. What do you think culminated in the varsity girls late season run? “We talked early and often this season about the process (with a young team) of learning from our wins and losses as the season progressed. We identified the major areas of weakness each week. As the season progressed, the girls did a great job of improving on those weaknesses and executing the game plan each night.”
5. What do you try to teach these girls before they leave high school? “I try to teach them the value of hard work, the importance of learning from mistakes and identifying and making the necessary adjustments. I emphasize that all of this can only be attained first and foremost by self-reflection; attitude, effort, responsibility and respect. These things are all within your control.” 
6. Why are sports important to teenagers? Why do you think they are good for them? “Athletics teach us many important values. In a team sport such as basketball, commitment is a very important value to have and is something that can be learned by being a member of a team. This is so important in life. A strong commitment to family, friends and a career is necessary for success as an adult. A high school player that commits 100% to a team is helping to set him/herself up for success later in life.” 
7. Do you remember seniors Dakota Boehler and Rylee Clark when they were younger? If so, what is one of your fondest memories of them? “Myself and Coach Griffith started coaching our two seniors in seventh grade. We have been coaching them for six years and, as a result, we have gotten to know them very well.  They have both dedicated a lot of time and energy into the program. It has been fun watching them improve over the years.”

Dennis Lordemann
Dennis Lordemann is a software developer at MSU Billings and a sports photographer.
1.What do you think culminated in the varsity girls late season run? “Focus, preparation in practice and taking what was has been learned and building on that from week to week.”
2. Why did you choose to coach? “I love teaching the game of basketball and working with young people, it keeps me young at heart.”
3. What is your philosophy on developing the young minds of your student/athletes? “Create an atmosphere of learning under pressure in practice that carries over to the games.”
4. The varsity squad has a lot of younger athletes on the team, how did you know some of them were ready to play at varsity level?
“The energy they bring to the floor and their willingness to learn and adapt to the constantly changing environment.”
5. What do you try to teach these girls before they leave high school? “The value of hard work, commitment, teamwork, sportsmanship and have fun no mater what you are doing.”
6. Why are sports important to teenagers? Why do you think they are good for them? “They learn about being part of a team and the value of hard work. The things they learn while participating in athletics will carry over to their adult life.”
7. What separates the LHS sports programs from other schools? “The people, starting with the players, their willingness to learn and make a commitment. The players families and all the support they provide, creating the sense of team/family. The coaches who spend countless hours trying create the atmosphere that allows the team to be successful on the court.”  

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