Then they looked around, weighed their options, evaluated their resources and invited Rod Van Saun to become the team's new coach.
The immensity of the task is clear to Van Saun
"It's a big thing to take on," he
For more than 25 years, Van Saun
played basketball at high school, intramural, city league and college levels.
A Ninilchik resident since 1993, he owns and operates Van Saun Charters and is president of Deep Creek Charter Boat Association.
He is the basketball coach for Ninilchik's elementary athletes and for the past four years has been assistant coach of the high school boys' varsity team.
Over the years, Van Saun
had plenty of opportunities to observe Leman's style, his
relationship with the team, his
ability to make half-time adjustments.
watched Leman pit Ninilchik's
2A girls against 3- and 4A
teams and saw the team come out the victor.
eyed Leman's commitment to the game's fundamentals, his
sensitivity to the game's nuances.
"But I never looked at (Leman's) program and hoped or thought that I'd be the one to replace him," Van Saun
Team co-captains Grace Ehlers, a senior, and Lindsey Rohr, a junior, acknowledge Van Saun
has a different style than Leman, but said the team recognizes the new coach's commitment to the team.
also is learning the difference between coaching Ninilchik's
boys and girls.
Of playing for Van Saun
added, "At first it was hard, but it's getting easier now.
doing a good job."
And Van Saun's game plan?
"I'm going to put my heart and soul into it.
So are the girls," he