In the eyes of Andrea Anthony, there's little difference between coaching and counseling. Anthony will offer a little of both in her job as the new girls' basketball coach at Manual Arts High.
"As a counselor, you're kind of coaching people to deal with their lives and give them a game plan," Anthony said. "Basketball gives an opportunity to different people with different personalities to work together."
Counseling and basketball are subjects, Anthony, an All-City forward at Locke High in 1980 and '81, knows well.
Anthony, 32, is working for a master's degree in counseling with an emphasis on marriage, family and child counseling at Cal State Los Angeles and is completing her field work as a counseling assistant at Manual Arts.
Playing alongside two-time Olympian Cynthia Cooper, the 5-foot-8 Anthony helped the Saints to the City Section and State titles as a senior in 1981. Anthony scored 15 points in a 73-61 victory over San Jose's Lynbrook High in the State championship game, capping a 19-2 season for Locke, which won its last 18 games after a 1-2 start.
No City girls team has won a State championship since.
"The ability in City basketball is still there, but I think the dedication and the hunger for the game is lacking," Anthony said. "If you don't have that, it's very hard to be competitive. We had fun when we played, but the intensity was unbelievable. If we were told to run in practice, we asked 'Where?' You tell players that today and they'll ask 'How long?' and complain and whine."
It's a problem Anthony's predecessor, Jack Mitchell, who stepped down to become a crisis counselor at the school, has seen as well. He notes other factors in the decline of City girls' basketball.
"Talent-wise, City teams are comparable in skill and depth with Southern Section schools," Mitchell said. "But you go to a summer league game at Peninsula (High in Rolling Hills Estates) and there are 40 parents. When we were playing for the conference title, we had three parents show up. It makes it an uphill battle when you don't have that kind of support from the community."
Even so, Mitchell, who had a 38-28 record in four seasons and will continue to assist with the girls' basketball program, helped the Toilers rebound from a 2-12 season to finish 15-3 in 1992 and win their first conference title in more than a decade.
"I think we've gained the respect of coaches and changed the reputation," Mitchell said. "I just wanted the team to have a good coach, especially a female athlete as a role model to help them not just with basketball, but with academic advisement and relationships."
Anthony also plans to draw on the expertise of one of her role models, Lucious Franklin, an assistant under Art Webb during Anthony's days at Locke. Anthony faced her former coach in her first game as coach in the Crenshaw summer league against Locke, but suffered a defeat.
"Lucious played a big part in my development and I want to utilize the talent of the people who shaped me as a player and a person," Anthony said.
Anthony played two seasons at Oxnard Community College, where she was the Western State Conference most valuable player and inducted into the Ventura County Hall of Fame as a sophomore in 1983. As an elementary education major, she played a season at UC Irvine before transferring to Northern Montana and earning All-Frontier Conference honors as a senior in 1986.
Anthony returned to Los Angeles and worked as a counselor at Hollygrove Children's home, a treatment facility for emotionally disturbed children, for the next three years. She worked with special education students at Hillside Elementary School until 1991 when she started her graduate work at Cal State L.A.
"It's easy to talk to her," said Manual Arts senior guard Martha Angol. "You can talk to her about stuff other than basketball."
Basketball, however, has still remained a big part of Anthony's life over the years. She still plays in weekly pickup games at Rancho Cienega Park. Anthony offers her services at basketball camps in Montana in the summers.
"Montana was definitely a learning experience, but I wanted to come back to L.A. and a community where my talents can be used," Anthony said. "I feel I can be a valuable asset to a girls' basketball team. It's important to expose them to women my age to see you can play ball and be a lady with a career."