By Todd Lancaster
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — The name Gretchen Miles has always been associated with success, whether it was on the court and field as a prep basketball and soccer star or as regional-winning soccer coach.
However, Gretchen Miles the basketball coach may end up the most successful of all.
Gretchen is now 74-47 in her time with WHS and is currently commanding a Lady Hatchet ship that has cruised to a 15-2 record this year.
Gretchen will tell you she is not doing anything different than at any other time and deflects the credit to her players and coaches. But what she fails to mention is that most of these girls have had at least three years of her direct coaching.
Actually ‘coaching’ might be the wrong word, ‘teaching’ would probably be better. Anyone who has ever watched her on the sidelines, knows her whole style is based on identifying a problem and finding a way to correct it. One parent said to me, “I just love to watch her, she has so much passion on the sidelines.”
Miles said that being a classroom teacher is very important to her and is a big part of her coaching style.
“You have to get to know the kids as people. From there you find strengths and weaknesses. Basketball is a game that exposes your weakness, and it is our job as coaches to teach you how to react to that,” she said.
She has won at least 14 games in each of the last three years and 15 is the largest amount since her former coach Steve Brothers won 18 in 2004.
Brothers is also one of Miles biggest boosters.
“It is no surprise that Gretchen is a great coach. She was a coach on the floor when she was a player,” he said. “Back when I was still coaching, Gretchen was helping with the freshman team and (coach) Bill O’Brian and both knew right away that she had what it took to be very good.”
Miles is also quick to say that her father, Brothers, O’Brian and Barry Watkins have helped shape her coaching philosophy.
“I have just been lucky to have had great coaches and been around great coaches to learn from.”
Brothers added that Gretchen still has the record for most games played with the Lady Hatchets at 98. What might even be more incredible, was with Miles on the court, WHS was 89-9.
“One of the things Gretchen was so good at was shooting,” said Brothers. “She had 325 3-pointers in her career. Her shooting form was just so good, and she has been able to pass that on to the girls she now coaches. It is really evident by watching them.”
Her three seniors, Ally Hunsinger, Lupe Perez and Audra Stallman have shown how Miles’ players are a reflection of her as a coach. Hunsinger is third on the all-time scoring list and Perez and Stallman’s play personify the phrase “hard working.”
“All our success starts with those seniors,” Miles said. “I can count on one hand the number of practice they have missed since freshman year. We really want to get a sectional title for them.”
This year’s team has just two losses, one to No. 1 Princeton and one to highly-ranked Mt. Carmel (Ill.), a team that features McDonald’s All-American Tyra Buss. Both teams have been projected by many to go a long way in their respected state tourneys.
“We learned a lot from those losses. We learned it is the little things that can be the difference between winning and losing and those are the thing we will work on,” said Miles. “We play a schedule that hopefully will get us ready for the tourney.”
I’m not sure what the little things are that the Lady Hatchets need to work on, but one of the big things that will lead to continued success - having Gretchen Miles on the sideline.