“We get up at the crack of dawn, go for two hours, then we come back later in the afternoon,” Skelton said. “We’ve gotten a lot better individually.”
Skelton is one of four seniors playing under the newly-hired Hawley, who takes over for former coach Chad Pittman. Seniors are usually the most well-versed players in a system but a coaching change meant adapting to a new way of doing things.
“I mean, I thought it was going to be tough at first,” Skelton said. “But he’s been coaching for about 30 years. He’s got a lot of experience. He came in and pretty much put us to work, and he knows what he’s talking about, so I listen and do it.”
Hawley, who has coached in four states and won a state title in Oregon in boys’ hoops, has brought a skills-first approach to the Lady Panther job. His philosophy is that as individual skills improve across the board, so will the team.
Count senior guard Emily Elrod among the believers as she’s seen her own skills improve through constant repetitions.
“So when the season comes, our individual skills will definitely get better and as a team, we’ll get better,” Elrod said.
Senior forward Bree Drew noted that things are “totally different” now than in years past but said that everyone gets along well with the new coach and expects a great year.
Drew has also seen the benefits of Hawley’s skills-first approach.
“I’m normally a post, but I get the ball down the floor now because I’ve been working on my dribbling skills,” she said.
Senior post player Sierra Roncadori also said that things have been different but enjoyable under Hawley. Her skill set has grown as she’s been challenged to expand her game, she said.
“I’ve done things I’ve never thought I would ever even think about doing in a game,” Roncadori said. “Like coach said, I’ve stepped out of my box. I’ve done things I wasn’t normally comfortable doing. It’s helped the team out a lot and it’s helped me out as well.”
The Lady Panthers seniors hope this all adds up to a memorable swan song come wintertime.
Jackson County drops down the Class AA this year, which puts them in a region with rivals East Jackson and Jefferson and adds excitement to schedule.
“Yeah, it’s going to be great because a lot of those teams are rival teams,” Roncadori said. “So, it’s going to bring a lot of momentum to the team.”
This is super for the county. Fitness/sports takes passion. I really do like the approach and impact that Hawley is having on theses girls and basketball. If you want to be the best, than you must get out of the comfort zone. And he is doing this.
The Lady Panthers have not had this must talent on their varsity team in years. The core group of seniors; Skelton, Drew and Elrod have tremendous talent. After watching the new skill base system we should be able to see what Coach Hawley has been teaching the girls over the summer when they start up a 8 game series at the Suwanee Sport Academy.