By Kay Braddock
As the Terry High School Girls’ Varsity and Junior Varsity teams begin a new season, head coach Sharilyn Kortum hopes players will come away with more than just improved athletic skills.
“I want to try and give the kids a positive experience,” Kortum said of the fourteen girls playing this season. “For me, by playing sports you learn a lot of teamwork, discipline and work ethic.”
Kortum, who has coached both the THS boys’ and girls’ basketball teams in the mid 90’s, is enjoying her return to the familiar high school court and establishing what she calls a “Road to Renewal,” for the girls’ team.
“Terry was a powerhouse,” she said, recalling the previous victories of teams from the 1980’s and early 90’s. “We need to get back to where it was.”
Kortum’s passion for basketball began early on in life, carrying her through a high school and college career in the sport. She played point guard for Montana State University from 1990 through 1995, red-shirting her sophomore year. The year on the bench gave her the opportunity to see things from a coach’s perspective.
“I knew more of what they expected,” Kortum said of her following years of play on the Bobcat team. Spending her summers working at a variety of basketball camps also helped give an understanding of different coaching philosophies.
Winning is always a positive, but teaching players to accept a win or a loss is just as important, she stressed. Valuing team effort and community pride is equally significant.
“We need to renew. We need to refocus and get back into having pride in what we’re doing.”
The girls’ team has 18 conference games ahead of them and is currently rated second in the conference, according to a poll taken by coaches.
“I feel really confident in the team,” Kortum said. What the team lacks in height, they make up for in ability. “We are athletic. If we’re going to win games, we’re going to have to play smart.”
Focusing on pressure defense and running the ball will be fundamental for the young team. And it is a young squad, with the majority, 10 of the 14 players, originating from the freshmen and sophomore grades.
“The kids understand the game and that helps. They’re very coachable. They’re just a really good bunch of kids.”
Having assistant coach Paula Rein is beneficial to the team as well, Kortum noted. Rein, who served as assistant coach for last year’s team, is up-to-date on the details and rules of the game. Rein has added to the team building mindset.
“She is willing to do whatever you ask,” Kortum said, noting having her within the school system gives the players a point of contact they may need. Rein is in her second year of teaching English at Terry Schools.
Although the new coach is not ready to predict how the girls’ varsity team will end their season, she anticipates continued improvement from each of her players.
“So far, we’ve had good leadership from our seniors. I expect that to continue. Everybody’s playing together and that is an important step in success.”