Last November I had the pleasure of meeting Kadeyn Johnson, head coach of the Schuyler Central High School Lady Warriors basketball team. As I watched the team practice I did not see a 20-win season or a 2017-18 state title banner in the offing but I did see a coach who was determined to turn around the fortunes of the SCHS girls basketball team.
Although many fans will look at the 3-18 season record and not see much reason to celebrate, the reality is that we saw coach Johnson doing things the “right way.” He stressed details. He stressed consistency. He stressed teamwork. Will this pay off with more victories in the upcoming seasons? Only time will answer that question, but at least the ladies have their collective foot through in the door.
All season long coach Johnson has remained positive and that continued to be true after his team’s sub-district loss to South Sioux City. “I told my girls I was proud of them and of what they accomplished this past season," he said. "We won a total of three games which was one more than last year. My goal for this season was to win more regular season games than last year and we did that. I told them that basketball doesn’t stop here. They must continue playing in the off-season to get better for next year.”
There were many times that the Lady Warriors only suited up eight or nine varsity players due to injuries and illness, but coach Johnson would not fall into the trap of using that as an excuse.
“We had a lot of games where we were only down by a few points going into halftime that we ended up losing and several other games where we would score 20 points in a quarter," he said. "We can build on all these things. If we can find a way to stay healthy and keep from getting overly fatigued I think we will like the outcome. Since we lost a couple close games this year, I think we can set a new goal for wins in the regular season. Losing the close games is never fun but that keeps the fire inside us burning brightly so we have something to work towards as a team.
Often, we see high school teams that struggle to find a way to win games, begin to doubt themselves and begin to see their efforts on the court struggle as the season draws to an end. That was not the case with the 2017-2018 SCHS team.
“These girls always worked hard and always made the coaches laugh," the coach said. "We only lose one senior off this squad, and we will certainly miss Haylee Korth, but we will have a lot of the same girls back next year. I am excited to have the opportunity to coach such an amazing group of ladies again.”
Reality tells us that his team’s advancement towards winning records is going to be a long process, but it seems obvious that Johnson is more than capable and willing to accept the challenge.
“I thoroughly enjoyed coaching this team," he said. "I can’t wait to see what next year brings for our seniors and for the rest of the Lady Warriors!”
Neither can we, coach.