A few weeks ago the news came out that Winnacunnet High's legendary girls basketball coach Ed Beattie had resigned. Beattie served as the school's head coach for 31 years, during which time he won 7 state championships. 5 of those titles were consecutive (2007-2011), and it was during that time the Warriors won 84 straight games.
Cassie Turcotte was Beattie's assistant coach for the past 12 seasons, and now she has officially taken over the reigns as the program's new head coach. Beattie turned Winnacunnet into a girls basketball powerhouse, and now Turcotte will try to continue that success.
"The fact that the program has been so successful and many of the girls are returning knowing the feel of success and the expectations that come along with it brings an ease with the transition" Coach Turcotte told the NH Notebook. "In many programs a change like this could cause a stutter that would result in a backward step before they could move forward. But knowing the program as well as I do, these girls will have a smooth transition and will be ready to face the challenges that lie ahead."
There's no question that Turcotte has learned a lot from being Beattie's assistant for the past 12 years.
"Ed has taught me most of what I know about coaching basketball" said Turcotte, who also teaches Physical Education at Winnacunnet. "It reaches far past the x’s and o’ on the paper, and well past the confines of the gym. Ed has been a mentor, both with direct instruction but even more with observing and learning from what he does. Ed is dedicated to developing these girls into the finest and strongest athletes, students and people. He recognizes that it’s not just about girls basketball, but about the bigger picture; life. So many of his athletes come back to share their successes in life, and how what they have learned from Coach Beattie and basketball had played a significant role in that success. Ed persuaded me to get my Masters degree early in life, and always encouraged me to seek learning opportunities, to think for myself, and provided me with many opportunities to develop my skills as a young coach. Most importantly, Ed taught me the importance of commitment and dedication to not only coaching the game of basketball, but into the development of well-rounded student athletes. For 12 years as his assistant, I learned, was enlightened, was supported and humored. Everyday I will look up at the banners that his teams had earned as a reminder of what hard work and dedication can accomplish."
Now that the torch has officially been passed from the mentor to the protege, Turcotte is ready to make the most of her opportunity.
"As for taking the reigns; I feel confident and am looking forward to my turn in the saddle" Turcotte continued. "This program came into my hands as a fine working machine, and it is of the utmost importance that it is maintained that way."
But the question is, how good will this team be in 2012-2013? Winnacunnet graduated four starters off last year's team, including Gatorade Player of the Year Kirsten O'Neil (now playing soccer at San Diego State). They graduated a total of 8 starters. Plus you have Bishop Guertin, Londonderry and Bedford who all appear to have stacked teams this year in D-I.
"Carly Gould is returning, as is Mimi MacLeod from last year’s varsity team" Turcotte pointed out. "We have only had 3 practices, but the potential is there to have a great season. There are many powerhouses in our conference this year and our aim is to prepare for the competition. The girls are working hard and have not skipped a beat in all this transition."
Gould is a third year starter for the Warriors and is a potential first team all-state player. She will be playing soccer in college at Brown next year. MacLeod meanwhile showed flashes of brilliance last season and could be on the verge of a breakout year. Both of them are 5-foot-11 and will give Winnacunnet one of the best interior duos in the state.
How much the rest of the team is able to come together will likely determine how good this team ends up being.
"Our JV team was 15-3 last year" Turcotte said. "Maelan Castro (12) and Molly Britton (10) are 2 strong guards coming up. Kelly Dolan (11) is a g/f who will probably see lots of court time."
Turcotte's head coaching debut is scheduled for December 7, when Winnacunnet plays host to Londonderry in a rematch of last year's D-I semi-final.