Sanford-Fritch High School Girlâ€™s Basketball Coach Jason Hale was named the 2011-12 Borger News Herald Coach of the Year for leading the Lady Eagles to a 20-win season and a second place finish in District 1-2A.
Hale is finishing his seventh year as a coach, which includes stops at Spade and Springlake-Earth before coming to Sanford-Fritch three years ago. Hale spent one year leading the Sanford-Fritch varsity boys before taking over the Lady Eagles head coaching position prior to the 2010-11 season.
Hale doesnâ€™t have to spend too much time thinking about who has had the biggest impact on his coaching career, due to growing up as a coachâ€™s son. Hale said, â€śObviously my dad is going to be the biggest influence because I was able to see first hand how the job needs to be done. But I will also say my time in Springlake-Earth influenced me on my approach to coaching girls basketball.â€ť
Five years ago, the Lady Eagles varsity team struggled on the court and even endured a winless season. But since that winless season, the Lady Eagles have seen improvement, with Hale crediting former Head Coach Kerry Moss for laying the ground work for success the program is now experiencing.
Entering the 2011-12 season, Hale said he expected to have a team with the capability to win 20 games, but the key was getting the players to believe it as well.
On his approach to the 2011-12 season, Hale said, â€śWe had seen a lot of improvement because the girls were willing to put in a lot of time and hard work in order to get better. The potential was there so from day one this season we had the goal of winning 20 games and making the playoffs.â€ť
The Lady Eagles started the season winning a couple of games, but Hale credits how his team came together in a early season win over Borger as the point when they realized this year potentially could be special. Hale went on to say one of the differences between this yearâ€™s team was how they learned to play through adversity and how to close out games and the Borger game was a great example of that. Hale said, â€ś We had lost our point guard Jacy Judd to an injury during the game with Borger. Losing her probably shouldâ€™ve meant we would of lost that game and struggled until we got her back. Instead the team found a way to come together to get the win in that game and continued to have success through district.â€ť
One of the luxuries Hale enjoyed this year was having a team that didnâ€™t feature a dominant scorer or rebounder, but one where six different girls had the ability to step in and lead the team any given night. Hale commented, â€śWhen you look at our team stats for this past year, one of the things people will notice is we had six girls who essentially had similar stats. That made it hard when it came time to selecting who was going to get All-District honors, but it spoke to how well this team was able to gel and depend on each other to step up in every game.â€ť
Winning 20 games and reaching the playoffs are milestones Hale takes pride in. But when asked what made this past season enjoyable Hale said it was seeing the team experiencing success, saying, â€śMost of the seniors on this team had never been able to experience what it was like to compete in the playoffs. So it definitely was nice to see that group be able to enjoy that experience.â€ť