Tue, Feb 7, 2023 12:10 PM
By MARK ANDERSON, AP Sports Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Centennial High School girls' basketball team had just left the floor after yet another victory and coach Karen Weitz didn't have time to waste.
She quickly addressed the girls in the locker room before hurriedly returning to the court, ready to coach the boys.
Weitz is a rarity — a high school coach overseeing both the boys and girls varsity teams. A woman handling those responsibilities is even rarer.
"I’m not saying I’m anything special, but it’s a lot,” Weitz said. “It’s a lot to manage.”
Weitz has company in her unusual club: Ashley Fouch, who coaches the boys and girls teams at Daleville High in Indiana.
The National Federation of State High School Associations doesn't keep statistics, media relations manager Nate Perry said, but he believes someone coaching both the boys and girls basketball teams at the same time is atypical.
“It’s not any different for me if I’m coaching girls or if I'm coaching boys," said Fouch, who is in her second season coaching the boys team and who took on the girls team three weeks before the season. "I'm a basketball coach and I understand that it’s a big deal and barriers are being broken with it.
"But at the end of the day, I’m just coaching basketball. So I think that’s my baseline and just it kind of releases my pressure of everything when I think about it deeply.”
Weitz was already a standout in Nevada. Centennial, which plays in the state's highest classification, has won a state-record seven consecutive championships. Its 13 overall titles, all under Weitz, are second in state history.
She is the only Nevada girls coach to win more than 700 career games; no one else has more than 600. Her record and retiring from teaching gave Weitz, 54, more time to do both jobs.
And she has an especially challenging job with the boys program, which last season went 9-14. This season's team won nine games by Jan. 5. The team was 12-7 through last weekend.
“I was excited for her to bring in a whole new life for us," senior point guard Elijah Burney said. "She’s a winning coach. She instills that in us every day in our practices."
Weitz sees similarities to when she took over the girls team. It didn't have a winning culture, either, and she said it took about three years to build it into the powerhouse it is today.
“The bottom line is you've got to find the core that wants to buy into your system, wants to buy into your standards, wants to buy into the culture of the program,” Weitz said. “And that’s the first thing you've got to do is find those guys that are OK with that, that are OK with being coached hard, that are OK with being held accountable.”
The difference in the programs was evident when they shared the same game night. Weitz stood for most of the girls game until late in the third quarter when Centennial had a 22-point lead. She didn't sit during the boys game, which Centennial lost by 29 points.
“That’s a huge undertaking to be able to try to run both,” athletic director Mike Livreri said. “I just felt it was going to be a really hard thing to do. It looks like she’s been able to juggle it successfully."
The time required bleeds into Weitz's personal life, though. She said she was too tired and too busy to put away her Christmas tree until well into January.
Fouch, who is also Daleville's athletic director, said coaching two teams will “cut into your family time, your friend time.”
“I have two dogs, and they’re about to kill me right now. I think you prep yourself before you take on something like this and know, like, OK, these next five months are going to be brutal. Are you willing to give up these things to do this?" the 31-year-old said. “In my mind, I’m like, ‘Heck, yeah, it’s worth it.’ I’m already around these kids all the time at school.”
Fouch had immediate success last season coaching the Daleville boys team, going 14-10 and advancing to the sectional championship. This season's team was 7-9 through Monday.
It's the second time she's been in charge of the girls program, going 31-39 over three seasons and capturing the sectional title in her final season in 2020. Fouch left for another program before returning. Meanwhile, Daleville's girls ended their season Friday with a 3-19 record.
“The biggest thing is if I didn’t have any type of support from this community, I wouldn’t have done it,” said Fouch, who doesn't know whether she'll coach both teams beyond this season. “But because people backed me so well here and because there’s so much care toward me and my basketball programs and my kids, it makes it easy and it makes me want to do it."
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