Season to kick off Nov. 14
By Greg Seubert
A schedule is in place and officials are lined up.
The only thing missing from the Waupaca girls’ basketball team’s upcoming season is a coach.
Payton Mix stepped down this summer after coaching the Comets for four seasons and WHS Activities Director Rob Scherrer is still looking for her replacement.
“The job is still posted and we still are actively looking for somebody,” he said. “Rest assured, we will have a coach for the start of the season. There are rumors going around that we’re not going to have a season, but that’s just not true. We’ll have a coach in place ready to go.”
Girls’ basketball teams across Wisconsin can begin practicing Monday, Nov. 6, and games can be played as early as Tuesday, Nov. 14. Waupaca’s first game, a nonconference matchup at Iola-Scandinavia, is scheduled for that day. After two more road games at Berlin and Fox Valley Lutheran, the home opener is set for Tuesday, Nov. 28, against Wautoma.
Scherrer said there has been some local interest in the position.
“I don’t want to get too deep into what it is, but there have been a couple of applicants,” he said. “The job is posted online on WECAN (Wisconsin Education Career Access Network) and on the school website. Anybody that’s interested in thinking they can move the program forward can apply by either going to WECAN or contacting me as well. If they go to our website, there is a job posting on there that directs them right to WECAN. That might be the easiest, to go to our school website.”
Scherrer doesn’t believe the uncertainty of a coach will keep players from going out for the team.
“I don’t buy into that philosophy,” he said. “I think if you get the right coach in place, kids will want to play for them. Unfortunately, with this being at the last minute, we might risk not having a JV1 team this year because of the numbers. I’m not 100% sure. It might be a rough start, but basketball’s a long season. I coached basketball for 22 years and it’s not how you start, but how you finish. We may not be firing on all cylinders to start the year, but once they get into it a little bit, they’ll be fine.”
The Comets haven’t posted a winning season since 2007-08 and are 14-97 over the last five seasons, including 11-76 in North Eastern Conference games.
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” Scherrer said. “It’s a great opportunity for somebody that wants to build a program to come in here and do that.”
The North Eastern Conference has sent girls’ basketball teams to state in recent years, including Freedom (2022 and 2019) and Wrightstown (2020 and 2017).
“They have programs that they rebuild every year,” Scherrer said. “We have that potential here, too. We just need that right person to step in and build it.”
Waupaca isn’t the only team struggling to compete in a conference with quality programs like Freedom, Wrightstown and Fox Valley Lutheran.
“Girls’ basketball is really taking a hit lately,” Scherrer said. “Basketball, in my opinion, is a very skill-oriented sport. You have to start at a very young age and you have to continue to build that skill. It’s not a criticism of any other sport, but I think girls in general are starting to migrate to those sports that don’t require as much skill because they don’t need to make that commitment like they do in basketball. You look at volleyball, where we have three teams and had to cut kids this year. That’s a product of good coaching and building that program.”
Scherrer said he would have liked to have a coach on board by now.
“It’s really hard for the girls when they are in limbo and not knowing what’s going on,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for a coach to step in, take off and not have any time to work with the girls. Kids will come out. I believe somebody that’s a quality coach that we will want in our district is going to encourage all our student-athletes to come out for basketball and build from the ground level up from the elementary level all the way through high school.
“We just want to make sure we’re moving the program forward,” he said. “Finding that right fit is important to us. We’re not just accepting anybody. We have to find that right person that’s going to come in and get it started. We know there are going to be some rough years, but pretty soon, we’ll have a good program here.”