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The City Journals

Cottonwood girls' basketball coach looks at bigger picture

Apr 03, 2017 09:27AM ● By Brian Shaw

Cottonwood girls basketball coach Janae Hirschi and the 2016-17 Cottonwood Colts. (Janae Hirschi/Cottonwood High girls basketball)

By Brian Shaw  | [email protected] 

Janae Hirschi comes from a storied background from which her alma mater's trophy case at Westminster College is filled with championship hardware. So, is coming to Cottonwood High School to coach girls basketball a step back? No, it just a step in a different direction.

When you take away Cottonwood's results on the scoreboard—or the fact that the Colts team she coaches is rather new to the sport of basketball entirely—a different picture might emerge than one to which Hirschi might be accustomed.

On the other hand, it's one with which Hirschi is familiar, because while she was on winning teams throughout her collegiate career, she was never the star player. Hirschi was always the worker bee making sure everyone else on the team got their share of the ball and basket.

Hirschi played all four years at Westminster College as a 6-foot floor general, leading the Griffins on the court while averaging about six points per game during her time there.

At Westminster, for example, the teams Hirschi played on in her last two years went 22-12 and 24-9 overall, respectively. In her junior year, the Griffins made it all the way to the NAIA Sweet 16—and she averaged about 10 points per contest that year. Her senior year, the Griffins made it back to the NAIA Playoffs, losing to Loyola by nine points in the round of 32.

This season at Cottonwood, this team—not unlike Hirschi's Westminster teams she played on—was one born of sacrifice, dedication and integrity. Because while Hirschi's kids on the Colts may not always win on the scoreboard or be superstars, they're even bigger winners in her opinion in one more important aspect—life.

“I was really proud of my girls this season because it wasn't easy for them. They played in a tough region with a lot of talented teams. They never gave up,” she said.

Never was that more apparent than when her Colts suffered two back-to-back losses in succession to Copper Hills and Bingham by 42 and 33 points.

And then her Colts figured out all the tough, hard basketball lessons she'd been teaching them in the season finale at home, against West Jordan.

They roared out to a 16-4 lead but West Jordan trimmed the lead to 11 at the half. Then the Colts kicked it into overdrive, taking a 14-point lead into the final quarter. And Hirschi's Colts almost let the Jaguars come back, allowing West Jordan to outscore them 13-1 in the fourth and final stanza.

As a nice ending to the season, 5-foot-8-inch senior guard Isamar Guzman scored 13 points to lead Cottonwood to its second region win of the season. Another guard, sophomore Katie Haglund, scored 11 to help Guzman and the Colts stave off another loss and end their season with four wins overall, two in region play.