AP NEWS

AROUNDTOWN: Honesdale’s Birmelin Gets Shot At Final Four

February 3, 2019 GMT

She’s putting together a final season that so far has been stellar, and Honesdale High School graduate Morgan Birmelin would like nothing better than to lead her DeSales University team to the Division III Final Four. Regardless of how that works out, the senior point guard will finish the year at the big dance, just not on the court. Birmelin is one of 60 senior basketball players across all levels of NCAA and NAIA athletics who were selected to go to Tampa, Florida during Division I Final Four weekend for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “So You Want to be a Coach” program. “It’s a really cool opportunity to be around the game of basketball longer,” said Birmelin, who is leading 17th-ranked DeSales in assists (7.8), steals (3.3) and minutes per game, is second in blocks and fourth on the team in scoring, not to mention her 3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. “Hopefully, I can make a connection and get a graduate assistant coaching job and get my master’s degree. “That’s my hope.” How Birmelin will end up at the Final Four is a bit of a windy path. DeSales was hosting a high school tournament when it dawned on Birmelin that her days involved with the sport were drawing to a close. “It was kind of a weird thing,” Birmelin said. “We were hosting a tournament and I was working the concession stand. I had one of those senior moments where I realized this is the last one I’ll be hosting. It was kind of sad.” The latest turn comes as a bit of a surprise, even to Birmelin, who had eyed a career in teaching. “I never thought I would be a coach growing up,” Birmelin said. “I always wanted to be a teacher. As my basketball career was coming to an end, I realized I love the game too much to give it up. I want to try to stay in the game as long as I can. If that means coaching in high school or college — wherever the game takes me.” Birmelin credits many of her coaches along the way for the help — John Bucci and Dave Martin at Backcourt Hoops, head coach Fred Richter at DeSales, and her grad assistant coach Jackie Stewart, who was chosen for the “So” program in 2017. “(Stewart) actually was chosen out of the applicants for her year as well and she was very familiar with the process,” Birmelin said. “She helped me get through.” There was a résumé to prepare, an essay to write and a one-minute video to produce on why she wanted to be a basketball coach. That one was easy. “I think basketball has done so much for me,” Birmelin said. “I’ve me so many individuals, coaches, teammates I’ve played with and I think basketball is a really cool way to connect, and I’d like to make the same positive impact my coaches have.” On that list, she puts Richter at the top. He’s been like a father figure as much as a coach. “My family calls him my dad away from home,” Birmelin said. “I go to him for anything. My car’s not working, I call him. If I need help in school, he helps me with my history.” Soon, her career at DeSales will also be history, but not before the Final Four convention and a three-day professional development seminar that will include networking strategies, coaching tips and the opportunity to connect with girls across the country from Division I, II and III who have the same goals and aspirations. Perhaps most importantly, a chance to interact with coaches from all three levels as well. “It is really an awesome opportunity,” Birmelin said. “Thankfully, through the grace of God, I got the opportunity.” A loss of our own Extending our sympathy to one of our own, veteran sportswriter Scott Walsh, whose father, Bill, died Jan. 25 . Been a rough go of it for Scott, whose best friend, state representative Sid Michaels Kavulich, died in October. Here’s hoping Scott takes solace in the great memories he has of time with his dad, especially their outings to Yankee Stadium. Our condolences to Scott’s mom, Carole, and his sisters, Tracey and Shannon. Marty Myers is a Times-Tribune sports writer. His column appears on Sundays. To contact him email mmyers@timesshamrock.com, call 570-348-9100, ext. 5437 or follow him on Twitter @mmyersTT.