Taking over programs that mostly have no place to go but up, four former Orange County high school basketball players have taken on lifestyles that could sap their social lives and add a premature gray hair or two.
All under 25, they are the county’s new wave of coaches, just out of college with a desire to put a stamp on their own high school girls’ basketball programs.
Young and intense, Nicole Quinn, Adara Newidouski, Michelle Macintyre and Sarah Davis have arrived.
“What I remember those four having in common is that they were very intense competitors,” said San Clemente Coach Mary Mulligan, who coached, or coached against, each of them. “They were not just talented, but they had that focus. They had that ‘I-want-to-win’ attitude.”
They still have it, and are determined to pass it on to their players.
Quinn (who attended Woodbridge) and Newidouski (Dana Hills) were in the Class of 1993, and Davis (Tustin) and Macintyre (San Clemente) the Class of ’94.
The drills, philosophies and plays gleaned from their college years are now becoming a part of Santa Ana Valley, Ocean View, Tustin and Trabuco Hills high schools.
They arrived at their first head coaching jobs by varying paths. Quinn went to a community college and attended a Division II university, Cal State Stanislaus. Newidouski and Macintyre were all-county players, but Newidouski stayed close to home at Long Beach State, and Macintyre went to Hawaii. Davis also attended Long Beach State but grew disenchanted and quit the team.
“I know what it’s like to be an unhappy player,” said Davis, who says her experience at Long Beach will help her with her own players at Tustin. “After I accepted the job, I talked to people who asked, ‘Do you know what you’ve gotten yourself into?’ But I’ve been excited about it.”
Davis, 23, graduated from Tustin and played point guard for three seasons at Long Beach State. Currently a criminal justice major, she is working toward a teaching credential in physical education. Like Newidouski, who teaches fifth grade at an elementary school, Davis is a walk-on coach. She was an assistant two seasons ago at Tustin, and is getting a chance to restore some lost tradition at her alma mater.
Quinn, 24, played at Woodbridge when the Warriors won their first Southern Section title in 1991. A second-year math teacher at Santa Ana Valley, she said she encountered a cool reception at Valley because she wasn’t like the coaches the players were accustomed to having.
“I had three strikes against me,” said Quinn, an assistant two seasons ago at Woodbridge under her father, Pat Quinn (now her assistant). “I was young, I was female, and I was blond.
“I think I had to prove that I knew basketball,” added Quinn, who won two state titles playing at Golden West College and was one of the nation’s top three-point shooters her junior season at Stanislaus. “It was hard because they didn’t respect me as a basketball coach. It took me all summer to prove myself, and now our practices are much different from last spring’s.”
Quinn remembers vividly the turning point. She took the Falcons to a team camp at Cal Poly Pomona.
“When we got to this big college--to them it was a big college--the coach there used the same words, the same drills, the same type of stuff I was using,” she said. “Not only did they say, ‘Wow, she must know her stuff,’ but we were also together eight to 10 hours a day, and we got to know each other more. Not only did we gain some ground on the court, but off the court as well.”
Newidouski, 24, Ocean View’s coach, played at Dana Hills. She says she is about as demanding as her high school coach, Mike Chapman. “He expected a lot from us,” Newidouski said. “Very intense, a hard worker. I started with that, and in college, it was that much more intense. I’m passing on a lot of the drills, a lot of the plays I did in college.”
Chapman no longer coaches girls’ basketball, so Newidouski won’t get a chance to face her former coach. But Macintyre, who broke Mulligan’s school scoring record while at San Clemente, will face her former coach at least twice, in the South Coast League.
“She’s played college ball, and she will bring that college practice mentality to Trabuco,” said Mulligan, whose team should be one of the county’s top 10. “That college mentality is totally different [from high school] because you can’t get away with anything.”
Macintyre, Quinn and Davis say they’re more demanding than their own high school coaches.
Mulligan, in her 15th season, expects each of the newcomers to flourish. “They’re going to bring that intensity, that focus, with a lot of teaching going on,” she said. “Those players are going to respond.”
That also has been the case at Pacifica, where there are two young assistant coaches. Holly Pawlowski is in her second season at her alma mater, and former Mater Dei player Allison Ovitt is also on the Mariner staff.
Jennie Gadd returned to her alma mater, Troy, as an assistant.
Evelyn Powers, who graduated from Costa Mesa in 1999, is a paid assistant there this season.
“She’s got a great attitude--that’s why I wanted her,” Costa Mesa Coach Jim Weeks said. “Eventually, she’s going to make a great coach. She has great empathy for players and knows how to inspire players to play better.”
Most of those coaches feel like Macintyre.
“I love teaching about life through basketball,” said Macintyre, 23, a first-year Spanish teacher at Trabuco Hills. “I think some people say that, and they end up not concerned about winning, but I’m a winner too, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to be passive. I’m about as competitive as they come.
“I felt the whole time, this was the perfect situation to walk into. I promise you, I’m going to develop it. And when I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it.”