The Lady Mustangs varsity basketball team took on some new faces this offseason. Oakdale’s varsity coach Justin Schwitters, who took over the reins in 2011, stepped down and Julie Ford answered the call to be the new varsity head coach.
“My initial thought was determining if this was the right time for me or to wait. Looking at the roster from the previous year, I saw valuable pieces that I wanted to begin building around right away and a talented senior class that I wanted an opportunity to utilize,” Ford said when approached with the opportunity.
Taking over the varsity team and attempting to fashion it back into a winning program looked to be no easy task. However, Coach Ford brings a winning atmosphere to the program, as she went 14-0 in Valley Oak League play last year as the junior varsity head coach. Since 2011, Oakdale’s varsity went 6-48 in league play.
“My expectations for my team are very simple: win or lose, we will outwork and outhustle every team we play,” Ford said. “It’s a whole different level of competition and is going to take time to adjust. Changing the culture of a program is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Thus far in the preseason, Ford and the new-look Lady Mustangs have gotten off to a fast start. They have gone after loose balls, attacked the rim with aggression. Although some members of the team have returned from last year’s roster, this team is playing a whole new game and has found a new way to play it.
“This has become a very physical team,” Ford said of their early play. “Every player from one to eight brings a valuable role to the team that only she can provide. All of the roles are vital to our success, be they a hustle player who sets hard screens and plays tough defense or the player who leads us in scoring that night. All eight players are essential to our success, and the way we will be successful is by having all eight players contributing on a nightly basis. This is a team, not a standout player with a few role players around her.”
Thus far the Lady Mustangs have matched their total wins from a season ago with five … and they are still in the preseason portion of the schedule.