W-B Area Coaches Emotional Ahead Of Classic
For the girls from Meyers, Coughlin and GAR playing in tonight’s 50th annual Dr. George P. Moses Senior All-Star Classic, it will be their final shining moment, the last time they will step on the court representing their respective schools in a basketball game where, even if the final score won’t matter, the tradition of it all stands for something.
The All-Star Classic, sponsored by The Citizens’ Voice and Wyoming Valley Athletic Association, raises money for local groups and families facing medical hardships. The game will be played tonight at Holy Redeemer High School with the girls game beginning at 6:30 and the boys game to follow.
“I just think it is special that each team has girls playing in it,” said Meyers coach Mary Mushock, selected to coach Team Wolfpack along with Coughlin’s Phil Schoener and GAR’s Hattie Carruso.
The three coaches from the Wilkes-Barre public schools were selected to coach in the game because at the end of the spring sports season, the three schools will merge their athletic programs and be called the Wilkes-Barre Area Wolfpack.
When the decision was made last May to merge the athletic programs, each sports team knew at some point their final season would come and go. That made this season more special, and for that matter, more emotional as the year wound down.
“In the beginning I tried not to mention it as much, just focus on the season,” Mushock said. “I just wanted the girls thinking about the season. Toward the end when it got closer, as a former athlete at Meyers myself, I started to get emotional. You could tell some of the girls who had family that played at Meyers were getting emotional as well. Some of them didn’t understand the tradition of Meyers basketball, so I found myself explaining it to them.”
Mushock had the opportunity to get together with Schoener and Carruso this week ahead of the game. It was an experience Schoener enjoyed, rather than just the traditional in season matchups between the teams.
“I was joking with Hattie and Mary that we will be the answer to a trivia question. We are the last three to coach the girls basketball teams at Coughlin, Meyers and GAR,” Schoener said. “I really enjoyed coaching with them and getting ready for this game. All I knew were my girls at Coughlin. Hattie and Mary are two great coaches, and they were in this longer than I was. I enjoyed having the time I had with them. It was a neat experience.”
Schoener stepped into a unique situation himself, elevating from the ranks of junior varsity coach at Coughlin to varsity halfway through the season. Realizing the situation, Schoener did the best he could for Coughlin’s girls, while at the same time respecting the fact that this would be Coughlin’s final season.
“It was definitely special,” Schoener said. “It made you think about all the players that played at Coughlin and all the former coaches, just knowing it was coming to an end. The players are young kids and I don’t know if they grasp it as much. I think it will be a big change once they all move into the new school. Anytime you are talking about the school history with Meyers, Coughlin and GAR, you just want to take time to remember that it is coming to an end.”
On the court, Ajalaya Butts will be representing Coughlin one final time, while Bella Skaff and Ashley Bruno will be suiting up under the Meyers umbrella, and Olivia Prato will represent GAR.
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