As the Carmel basketball teams gear up, both girls and boys are under the leadership of new coaches.
At the end of last season, girls’ coach Tom Dooner and boys’ coach Rich Frank retired from their positions and consequently brought a shift in coaching for all five CHS basketball teams. Currently, Kurt Grahl and Helen Suarez, last year’s junior varsity coaches, are now the varsity coaches for boys and girls, respectively.
Darcy Bennett has stepped up in Suarez’s previous position and the previous freshmen boys’ coach Jason Miller is now the JV boys’ coach and in his place is Daniel Eoff. Among the coaches, the only one who has not moved in position is varsity assistant coach Hans Schmidt.
The girls’ varsity team lost its first game to Prospect High School, but won against Monterey High School on Dec. 2, putting them in third in MTAL. Boys’ varsity has had a victory over Pajaro Valley High School, but lost to Monterey, putting them in second for the league’s placing. However, Grahl notes that it is too early in the season, as the standing will fluctuate.
“League games don’t happen until the new year, so we still have time and our placing is likely to change,” Grahl says.
According to Schmidt, Frank informed the coaches that he would be retiring, and Grahl showed immense interest in being coach, and since Schmidt did not want to commit to the full position, Grahl received it instead. With plenty of preparation, the transition in position was smooth for him.
Suarez’s transition to varsity coach was also smooth, with Dooner giving her hints about how to lead the team if she were to get the position.
“Last year I was helping the varsity team out a lot so I was able to get to know most of the players, as well as the ones that were with me on JV last year,” Suarez says. “Alongside getting to work with the players, Dooner was also supportive.”
After 20 years of coaching basketball, Dooner decided to retire, but is extremely grateful that the team is being left in good hands.
“Although my years of coaching basketball are over, I’m happy that the team is continuing under the direction of Suarez,” Dooner says. “The team is coming together, and I’m very proud of them.”
Junior Daniela Benak is also happy under the new leadership of Suarez, noting that even amid the new players learning the ways of varsity, Suarez pushes the team to be the best that they can be.
The girls’ JV team is also doing well with the transition.
“Coach Darcy knows her way around a basketball court, and she’s dedicated to developing each player’s individual strengths and overall ability,” sophomore Sophia Buraglio says. “Our season hasn’t officially started yet, but I think we’re going to do really well.”
Freshman Adam Ramlawi explains that even though his coach, Eoff, can be demanding during practice, he believes that it will pay off in the form of victories in games.
“I get to take bits and pieces of each coach that I’ve had and incorporate their philosophies and ideas into myself,” Eoff says. “Heart, hard work and dedication are things can’t be taught, the players with those attributes will go far on and off the court.”
According to Miller, he is excited for what the season has in store, especially being able to work with returning players. The scrimmage against San Benito High School was a good preview for what is yet to come.
Junior Dylan Houpt has played for Grahl for the past two years and is happy to be with him again. Houpt thinks that the motivation and determination that the coach shows is truly inspiring, and he is extremely excited about what the season has in store.
“I think Coach Grahl is going to get all the players pointed in the same direction and keep them motivated,” assistant coach Schmidt says. “I also think we are going to surprise some people, because last year we lost John Stivers and Sam Snowden, and people are looking past us, and we will surprise them.”