Despite the pandemic, the AIA winter season was a blast to cover. For the first time, the AIA playoffs are taking place during the month of March. There is a lot of good basketball being played with a lot of parity. I was lucky enough to catch up with Coach Erin O’Bryan, the Ladies Varsity Head Coach at Desert Ridge High School.
Coach O’Bryan seems to be running a pretty disciplined program. I was very impressed with her X’s and O’s, as she looked to direct her team to control the tempo and pick apart the defense with her ½ court offensive sets. I also liked the way her team defended. She is definitely a solid coach with great passion for helping her student-athletes develop into productive young women.
Here is our Q&A:
Q: How long have you been coaching and which schools or programs?
A: I have been coaching for (6) years. The first (2) years at South Mountain Community College. Then the last (4) here at Desert Ridge High School.
Q: Why do you coach?
A: I coach because I hope to mold young women into leaders in the community through basketball. Basketball has opened many doors for myself, and I want my players to see that basketball is a valuable tool to teach life skills.
Q: Who are your key players to watch this season?
A: My key players this season are Sam Wattawa, Tori Munguia and Kaitlyn Reekie. They are our team’s leaders and work very hard.
Q: What were the keys into keeping your program competitive year in and year out?
A: In order to be competitive every year, we have to get better progressively every day, every practice, and do the right things, the right way all the time. I push for my student-athletes to uphold our culture of a team first attitude, because it helps keep us together.
Q: What challenges did you face leading into this season due to the pandemic?
A: This summer was tough because we missed out on our summer league games, which are hosted at Desert Ridge. We also did not get to travel to San Diego for our end of summer tournament, however we were blessed to have (4) weeks of summer camp. Our school district allowed us to have camps with restrictions, which helped us get better and bond. The girls needed to be together during that difficult time.
I thank Coach O’Bryan for taking the time to sit with me to discuss her program. The Lady Jaguars were the #13th seed in the 6A State Playoffs this season. Congratulations from our staff to Coach O’Bryan and the Lady Mustangs on an excellent season.