Rifle High School finds new girls hoops coach
RIFLE, Colorado – This time, Brad Skinner or Jack Smith won’t have to come out of retirement again to coach the Rifle girls basketball team. The two veteran coaches have filled in for the Bears the last few years even after stepping down, but now there is a new coach in the picture. Stephanie Heald, a 2000 Rifle High graduate as well as former assistant of Skinner, has taken the reigns for the Bears’ squad. Heald, whose name was Stephanie Sawyer before getting married in 2006, is in her third year as a physical education, aerobics and weight training teacher at RHS. Despite being fairly young, after three years working under Skinner, Heald is ready to take over the team.”I have always thought that I would be a coach ever since I started teaching, but I just didn’t know it would happen this soon,” she said. “Having coached under Brad Skinner, who is one of the best coaches around, I thought that I could do it and hopefully I can.”After a successful prep career as a point guard who played under longtime Bears’ and current Coal Ridge girls basketball coach Rick Schmitz, Heald went on to play for the Division II Chadron State women’s basketball team for two years before transferring to Southwestern College in Kansas, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school, to finish off her collegiate basketball career.Last season, as the head coach of the Rifle junior varsity team, Heald guided the Bears to a 16-3 season. The varsity Bears went 9-5 in the Class 4A Western Slope League and 12-11 overall and ended the season with a first-round playoff loss to Golden. The Bears are consistently one of the top teams in the WSL, and Rifle athletic director Michael Green is hoping Heald can keep it that way.”We are excited to have Stephanie as a part of our team and are confident in her ability to lead the program,” Green said.Heald is planning to take the team to camps at Colorado School of Mines and the University of Wyoming this summer as well as holding open gyms to prepare for next year. In the 2008-09 season, Rifle will be without the services of soon-to-be-graduates Megan McWilliams, Chelsea Webb and Alissa Skinner.She is confident the practice, as well as the fact she already knows the players and has a strong pool of talent to draw from including rising stars Quincey Snyder, Ciara Euler and Cortney Cordova, will give the Bears a strong base to work off of next year.”The girls that were freshmen when I first started will be seniors next year and I have grown up with them and seen them grow and seen myself grow,” she said. “I think that really helps to have that relationship with the girls and that we know each other and they know how I coach.”
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