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SOUTHERN SECTION GIRLS’ BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : 4-A Final : Time, Titles Help Bausch Enjoy Life at Katella

Times Staff Writer

It has been a slow, often painful, learning process but Barb Bausch is finally getting the hang of this coaching business.

She now can look at a videotape and watch herself coaching the Katella High School girls’ basketball team without cringing. There was a time when it would have been a little like listening to one’s own voice.

Is that really me?

Bausch had it in her mind that she could become a darn good coach someday. She had been a hard-working player at Esperanza High School and Fullerton College. She knew the game. There didn’t seem to be any reason she couldn’t be just as successful as a coach.

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Friends--other coaches, who steered her into the profession in the first place--were convinced she could too.

But there was this little question of confidence that gnawed at Bausch last season, her first as Katella’s head coach.

She has had to overcome a youthful appearance, the shadow of the previous coach and her own doubts, but finally she has proven to herself that she has become a good coach.

Her team plays Muir for the Southern Section 4-A championship at 6:30 tonight at Chapman College.

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That alone is enough to lift Bausch from the ranks of the novice coach, where she floundered for most of her first season, to the assured veteran who will sit on the Katella bench tonight.

A great deal has changed since the day last season Bausch, now 24, was nearly kicked out of the school’s mail room by a suspicious administrator.

“A woman said, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Bausch said. “I said, ‘Oh, just picking up some mail.’ She said, ‘Don’t you think you better let your teacher do that?’ ”

It took a little explaining, but Bausch convinced the woman she was indeed the girls’ basketball coach.

These days, she can’t sit on a bench near the gym for more than a few moments without a teacher or a student stopping by to chat for a while.

“She’s really been accepted by the kids, the faculty and the administration,” said Tom Danley, the boys’ basketball coach and athletic director for 24 years.

It took time before anyone would let her forget she was not Mickey McAulay, former coach and savior of girls’ basketball at Katella. And that stung Bausch more than any loss in her first season.

“I fought that all year, but by the end of the season I was more in control,” Bausch said. “The last game of the season I finally felt the players were really listening to me .”

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McAulay’s first season in 1983-84, Katella was 1-19. But before she left in 1987 to become an assistant to Darlene May at Cal Poly Pomona, the Knights had reached the Southern Section 3-A championship game.

Bausch inherited a talented group of players from that team, including Joni Easterly, a Times’ All-County guard last season. But Bausch struggled to gain her own identity. Only now, after proving herself beyond a shadow of a doubt, has she carved her own niche.

“No one paid any attention to us when I coached,” said McAulay, who hired Bausch as an assistant three seasons ago. “Barb is under a microscope.”

After McAulay led the Knights to the title game in 1987, a winning tradition had been established. Bausch coached the team to the Empire League title last season, but it lost in the second round of the 3-A playoffs.

Bausch called McAulay often last season for advice.

“Mickey didn’t give me answers,” Bausch said. “She threw my questions back at me. She helped me along in the right direction and made me understand it myself.”

It prepared her for this season, which has gone more smoothly.

Katella again won the Empire League title. Easterly was named the league’s most valuable player and has signed a letter of intent to play at USC next season.

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And Katella is in the championship game tonight.

“I really feel good about myself,” Bausch said. “It’s really told me, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ I can feel the confidence coming on.”


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