The Southold/Greenport high school girls basketball team has a new coach, but then again, Skip Gehring isn’t really new to basketball or the Clippers.
If there is such a thing as a coaching version of a gym rat, it would be Gehring. One only needs to look back to last season to see that.
Last season Gehring was the Southold/Greenport junior varsity girls coach and the Southold varsity boys assistant coach. “Five-hour practices every day,” he said.
He loved it.
And that is only the tip of the iceberg, as far as Gehring’s basketball pedigree is concerned. The former Villanova University player has a wealth of basketball-coaching experience, including 20 years in girls basketball. He has coached at Bishop McGann-Mercy, Chaminade, Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, Wagner College and Fordham University. And that isn’t all. Gehring runs 37 AAU teams, ranging from fifth-graders to high school-age players. In the last two years, over 60 of his AAU players have received college basketball scholarships, he said.
And that doesn’t include all four of his daughters. Cari is a junior who plays for Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and Dani is a senior who plays for St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. His two oldest daughters, Tori and Kati, played for DeSales University in Pennsylvania. Gehring’s son, Greg, plays baseball for Keystone College in Pennsylvania, where he has also been asked to play basketball.
“He knows so much, sometimes it’s overwhelming the amount of stuff that he knows about basketball,” senior guard Madison Tabor said of her coach.
And it’s not just basketball.
“It’s about life and it brings it right into basketball, so I’m not only getting basketball, I’m getting a life lesson,” said senior guard Toni Esposito.
Gehring was back in his element last Thursday night, running a practice and providing direction. The Clippers’ fourth coach in four years (following Chris Golden, Howie Geismar and Phil Reed) was back in his millieu.
“I absolutely love it,” he said.
Gehring’s first order of business since taking over the reigns of the Clippers is to focus on fundamentals. “If you don’t have the fundamentals, the rest is not going to matter,” he said.
So the Clippers spent their first several practices working on ballhandling, shooting and man-to-man defense.
Southold has athleticism to work with. Among the team’s experienced players are Grace Syron, Angelica Klavas, Ale Cardi and Samantha Baldwin.
“There’s a lot of heart, desire with these girls,” Gehring said. “They want to win. They want to play. There’s a toughness that exists in these girls that I really haven’t seen in a while. These girls want to win, from the number one on varsity to every girl on JV. It’s all the way through the whole organization.”
Gehring plans to run a 10- or 11-player rotation. Fresh legs will be needed to fuel the high-energy, run-and-gun game he envisions.
“That’s what we’re going to have to do to win,” he said. “We’re not going to win on height. We’re not going to win on a half-court basketball set.”
Referring to the uptempo, in-your-face game he is planning on, Gehring said: “There will be a lot of exciting basketball. Win or lose, it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Photo caption: Southold/Greenport coach Skip Gehring running practice. (Credit: Bob Liepa)