Marshalltown High School will turn its struggling girls' basketball program over to a former Bobcat. And a long-time high school girls head coach.
Pending approval from the Marshalltown Board of Education on Monday, the newest Bobcat head girls basketball coach will be Stacy O'Hare.
"I am absolutely ecstatic," said O'Hare, who graduated from Marshalltown High School in 1992. "The process to turn things around won't be easy, but I am looking forward to the challenge."
O'Hare served as a the Marshalltown freshman girls coach last year, and before that spent 13 years in the BCLUW girls basketball program with 10 of those years coming as the head coach.
O'Hare admitted that since the freshmen games were usually at the same time as the varsity games, she didn't see a lot of the upper level games last year at Marshalltown, but being in the program helped her get acclimated to the players.
"It was a great experience for sure," O'Hare said. "I got to get to know some of the kids that are working their way up through the program and it gave me some good insight heading into this year."
The first order of business for O'Hare will be to try and bring back the excitement for girls basketball that was present when she played back in the early 1990s.
"That excitement is missing right now," O'Hare said. "I used to walk into the Roundhouse on game nights and that place would be packed. It is time to get the kids excited again."
MHS Principal Aiddy Phomvisay called O'Hare a "kid magnet," which should help the new Bobcat varsity coach when it comes to recruiting players in the hallways at MHS.
"The players respect her and are drawn to her," Phomvisay said. "She is going to work hard and she has the respect of the community. She has that proven ability to bring kids along."
O'Hare will take over for Tim Johnson, who went 17-90 in his five seasons as Bobcat coach. O'Hare went a combined 6-31 in her final two seasons at BCLUW but had several winning campaigns before that, including guiding the Comets to a 19-3 mark in 2009-10.
"We expect Stacy to build from the bottom up," Phomvisay said. "She has a strong passion for basketball and is very knowledgeable about the game."
O'Hare was one of several candidates interested in the position, according to Phomvisay. New MHS Activities Director Craig Huegel and Phomvisay narrowed the list to a final three and O'Hare emerged as the best candidate for the position.
Getting the community more excited for Bobcat girls basketball will not only hinge on O'Hare. The players themselves will play a key role. And O'Hare knows that.
"We have kids that have experience coming back and we need to continue to build on that," said O'Hare, who guided the Bobcat freshmen squad to 10-10 last year. "The older players need to be more involved with the youth programs and sub-varsity programs. I want our juniors and seniors to reach out to the younger kids and get them into Bobcat basketball."
Another challenge for O'Hare and the Bobcats will be trying to solve the Central Iowa Metropolitan League. Four schools from the CIML advanced to the Final Four at the Iowa Girls State Basketball Tournament last year.
The league won't get any easier in the coming years.
"It's a tough league, but it has always been a tough league, and I am sure it always will be a tough league," O'Hare said.