Andrea Flease is no stranger to New London girls’ basketball. She played high school basketball in New London, and has coached the New London girls’ summer league team since she graduated from high school.
She readily admits that since she played in tournaments growing up she has had a dream of coaching basketball.
“Basketball is a big part of my life and I knew if I wanted to continue, I wasn’t good enough to play in the big leagues, but I figured I could keep coaching and stay a part of it that way,” Flease said.
Coaching the New London girls’ summer league team gave her a start in coaching. Last year she was a student coach at UW-Stevens Point. She has also helped at basketball camps.
Coaching girls’ basketball was her dream, but her ultimate dream was to come back and coach the New London girls’ high school team.
Then, after back-to-back state titles, Troy Krause, the head coach of the New London girls’ basketball team resigned in April. Even though it was Flease’s dream to someday become coach, her lack of coaching experience almost kept her from pursuing the coaching vacancy.
“It was a dream of mine to come back and coach,” Flease said. “I didn’t think it was going to be this early in my career. I’m student teaching right now, so I don’t have a job. I didn’t know if I should do it or not.”
When deciding whether to pursue the vacancy, she considered the fact that Krause was the head coach for 12 years, and if somebody else came to coach, they could be there for another 12 years, or longer.
“I think I’d be long gone by that time, so I had to take the chance while I had it,” Flease said.
It also helped that some from the school urged her to pursue the job.
“They knew I wanted to do it, it was just a matter of making me feel comfortable taking on the role,” Flease said.
One of those who urged her to pursue the job was Krause, she said.
“Each summer he would call me back and want me to do the summer program,” Flease said. “We always talked about the different coaching styles. What he thought I did well in and what needed work. He was one that suggested it to me and really wanted me to do it. He understood that there was a lot to do but pushed for it I guess.”
Flease pursued the coaching job and was hired to take over a program coming off back-to-back state titles, and in the midst of a 42-game win streak. Despite that, Flease said she isn’t feeling added pressure.
“Honestly I don’t,” she said. “I know people talk about the streak a lot. I didn’t even know what the streak was at when it was first brought up to me. It’s a new team. I’m a new coach. Everything is new about the program right now so it’s really taking it one game at a time. The girls are doing a nice job of coming in and working hard, showing why they deserve to be on the court. Where that takes us we’ll see.”
Flease said her coaching philosophy is working hard, especially on defense.
“If we stay patient and run what we practice we’re going to be just fine,” Flease said. “We have to trust in what we’re doing. A lot for me is the mental aspect of it and not so much worrying about the X’s and O’s.”
The system Flease is running is a combination of things she has learned from all the coaches she has played under. From that she said she added a few of her own twists. “A lot of the stuff I like to put fun into it,” Flease said.
One of the things she said she learned from Krause is a solid defense involves more hard work than it does skill.
“If they don’t score, they can’t win,” Flease said. “That probably was the biggest thing. And to see his passion for basketball, especially going down to state this last year and seeing what he was experiencing after the game really got my gut going for basketball and coaching.”
Flease admitted she was nervous the first game she coached and is glad the game was an away game. The team has won its first seven games this season, extending the win streak to 49 games. She attributes much of that success to the girls on the team.
“The girls, they are unreal,” Flease said. “Their work ethic is amazing. Game in and game out they are there and they want to win. Their passion for basketball is right where mine is at.
“The girls have done a good job of making my job easy.”
Krause is available for Flease to ask advice of. He is who Flease is student teaching with.
“If I don’t ask, he doesn’t try to budge in,” Flease said. “He’s stepped back and let me do what I need to do, but if I need help he’s there to lend a hand and let me know whatever I need to know.”
The community has also been supportive, Flease said.
When asked if she set any goals for this year, without hesitation, Flease responded, “One game at a time.”
She also said she has a message for the team before each game.
“Before each game I say, ‘Prove to me why you deserve to be the best,'” she said.
It’s been a great start to a coaching career for Flease.
“Tradition in New London for awhile has been winning and working hard,” Flease said. “To know that I could get the chance to come back and give back to the community means a lot to me.”