Mingo Central’s head girls’ basketball coach, Donald Taylor has the same expectations for the Miners as he had at Gilbert High School, “go for it.”
“Why not?” he asked. “Who’s to stop you? We will work harder than anyone around because that is within our control. Then we just let the chips fall as they may knowing that regardless of the final outcome we have no excuses.”
The veteran coach is entering his 22 year on the court. Fourteen of those he served as an assistant and has been at the helm of the girls’ program for the past seven years.
Taylor has been busy this summer working with the Central gals.
“I have gotten to know the girls and have already started working to make ourselves both better individuals and a better team,” Taylor said. “We have between 60 and 70 games scheduled for the girls so that by the end of the 3 week period each girl will have played in roughly 35 games. When that ends we are still working to see how we can implement our weightlifting programs so that it is accessible to all the girls. We understand many go on vacations and encourage that, family comes before any sport. But we want to instill a working atmosphere so that we may achieve our goals.”
Obvious adjustments for Taylor at Mingo Central will be the number of girls on the roster. He believes the depth of the squad will be an advantage but could also be a disadvantage for the team.
“The depth is an obvious advantage that I have never experienced before,” Taylor said. “All my teams in the past were at most eight players deep as far as the playing rotation I used.”
“The depth is also a disadvantage in a way,” he continued. “In this case, for this season, kids that have started for a couple years may have to fill other roles. The mental aspect of realizing that the most important thing is for each girl to answer the question, ‘In what way can I best help this team succeed?’ Also, as sad as it is to say, there are those that would love to have us fall flat on our faces. However, I think these girls are channeling their energies for the greater good.”
Assisting Taylor is David Hanshaw. Taylor is hopeful another assistant will be hired before the season. He has had close to 23 girls participating in the summer program and expects that number to climb to 30 when tryouts roll around.
In that group of girls, Taylor says he has the quickness and height to make the first season a successful one.
“Several of the younger players are in the 5'10" to 6' 1" range,” Taylor said. “Some of these girls have very long arms too. This makes them play as even taller players. We also have a couple quick girls and overall are pretty athletic.”
Because this will be the initial season for the program, some might worry if the girls from the four combining schools, Burch, Gilbert, Matewan and Williamson, will come together and work as a team. But, Taylor has not seen any evidence of distention among the ranks.
“If the first week is any indication, you'd think these girls have been playing together forever,” said Taylor. “They played off of each other very well in some games but they are building the relationships and friendships that will make us successful. I am sure there will be bumps along the way and the girls have to look out for those who want us to fail. I can honestly say that I didn't hear even one negative comment the first week.”
Taylor wanted to see a freshman squad formed but questions the feasibility.
“I'm not really sure we will have the numbers to support it,” explained Taylor. “We have had five freshmen at our summer stuff and we believe that there may be about three more thinking of playing. But, right now that is too early to tell. We will have a full JV team that will hopefully play around 14-16 games this season.”
Ready and waiting for the Miners will be the Tug Valley Panthers and across the Tug, Belfry High School.
“Obviously Tug Valley being in the same county is a logical choice as a rival as well as Belfry because of the short distance between the schools,” said Taylor. “Tolsia could be. They have had a lot of success over the years and will probably be in our sectional.”
Taylor sees nothing stopping Central from starting out as a success.
“Although we will be fairly young overall, I see no reason why we can't be successful right away,” he said. “There is tons of potential however it is going to take hard work on each young ladies part to make us successful.”
If the summer is any indication, MCHS is well on its way to paving the road for a winning tradition.
“So far so good,” Taylor said. “We have won some and lost some but Coach Hanshaw and I have set certain goals that we feel we need to achieve as we go. We truly thought it might take 3-5 weeks for the girls to gel and truly get to know each other. We feel that that has already happened. It is absolutely amazing how well this group of young ladies get along. We just have lots of work to do. I truly think this will be a really fun group to watch play the game of basketball.”