Steve Harold, head coach of Glenville State College's
Lady Pioneers, talks to the team during one of the final
practice sessions before leaving for Hawaii. Three-time
All American senior guard Rachel Redick listens intently
(Photo by Drew Moody)
By Drew Moody
For Hur Herald
Glenville State College's Lady Pioneers basketball team
flew to Hawaii Sunday to compete in the Hoop-N-Surf Classic in Honolulu.
Fifteen team members and coaches, with a contingent of fans and family
were aboard the flight.
Glenville, nestled deep in the foothills of rural Appalachia, is hardly
where you'd expect to find a women's basketball mecca. Yet, the one
stoplight county is home to a basketball program that has been among the
most competitive and successful teams in the NCAA Div II East Region for
Last season the Lady Pioneers were WVIAC season champions with a 17-1
record and runner-up in the WVIAC tournament. It was their seventh
consecutive 20+ win season; the fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA
tournament. Three WVIAC Coach of the Year plaques hang on head coach
Steve Harold's office wall. He is native of Glenville, a GSC graduate,
and doubles as the school's athletic director.
Rachel Redick, Lady Pioneers leading scorer, averaging
points a game, muscles her way to the basket
during a recent home-court battle
(Photo by Drew Moody)
Currently ranked 6th in the nation (NCAA, Div II) with a 6-0 record, the
team is led by three-time All American Rachel Redick.
The senior guard
is also team captain (for the third year), leading scorer, and an honor
student. She was recently named one of the top 16 players in the U.S.,
and was selected a pre-season All-American.
Returning key players Lauren Strong, Karina Kendrick, Christine DiSabato
and Mallory Menendez, along with Redick, have all been honored for their
For the past several years the team's grade point
average has averaged 3.5 (out of 4.0). There's certainly no shortage of
brain-power. Players of this caliber don't keep making the same mistakes
over and over again, Harold said.
Several of the Lady Pioneers appear they could be equally comfortable
doubling as runway models. Yet, the women are generally soft spoken,
down-to-earth, and share an intense desire to compete and win.
Harold stresses balance - academically, on the court, and in life.
Practices are scheduled around classes and test schedules. He tells
players as much as he loves basketball they should have no doubt their
grades and academic success is the ultimate top priority.
this the Lady Pioneers are known to have practice sessions at odd times
of the day or night, sometimes beginning as late as 10 p.m.
Excellence is an elusive experience to quantify. The same could be said
for any number of other traits including integrity, honor, or being a
Speaking of, or staking claim to any of these may sound
good, but the vocalization does not make it real. To transition from
theory to reality certain conditions must be satisfied. Doing so may be
one of mankind's perineal challenges.
Whatever it is, Steve Harold appears to have honed a method to reliably
facilitate a yearning in each of his players to consistently strive to
experience excellence - on and off the court.
The team's coaching staff are as driven to compete and win as the
players. Practices are tough and serious. There's no idle talk or
chatter. Harold watches practices with the same intensity as their games.
Former Lady Pioneer and All-American, Denae Dobbins, spoke of Harold's
leadership style during an interview last spring. Dobbins said the Lady
Pioneers coach has an efficient and consistent formula for success.
instance, the team knows training schedules well in advance, everything
is meticulously planned and players don't have to worry about surprises,
Another element that sets the Lady Pioneers' organization apart from
many of their peers is the extent they've all become a family. They even
celebrate holidays together. Coaches sometimes help with the girls'
homework, or proof-read papers. Coaches and their wives have taken sick
players home to care for them.
Loyalty runs deep in the organization.
Harold is a thoughtful recruiter who looks beyond athletic ability when
assessing players. He's also particular who he works with and is quick
to praise the team he's built - even including student worker Heather
Phares who oversees graphic design for the Lady Pioneers. He speaks of
the assistant coaches skills and ability to communicate effectively with
Harold paid Redick perhaps the highest compliment anyone could give,
saying, "I hope my daughters turn out like Rachel Redick."
"As good of a basketball player as she is - she's even a better person."
Redick, a northeastern Pennsylvania native, found Glenville on the
internet. "I came down here and I just fell in love with it." Being
within driving distance of her parents was an important consideration.
"My mom has been my best friend," she said.
Redick's older sister recently accepted employment in Charleston, WV,
making her commute to Glenville much easier. The family attends many of
the Lady Pioneer games.
Redick will graduate with dual teaching degrees in elementary education
and science (5-9). She looks forward to helping children. In particular
she's drawn to working with young people who have suffered difficult
circumstances at home.
"Some of those kids..." she paused reflecting,
"You can tell they don't even get a hug when they get home."
She's excited about the upcoming games in Hawaii, enjoying a
mini-vacation afterward and looks forward to the rest of the season.
There's just one major drawback as she ponders graduation. "It's going
to be really, really hard for me to graduate, and know I can't come back
and play for Coach Harold."
Redick loves playing basketball with her teammates. Collectively,
they're 'all business' on the court. A quiet and steady leader, Redick
sets the pace for the team and coaches say her work ethic is "unmatched."
During games, Harold focuses on strategy, while assistant coaches Dennis
Fitzpatrick and John Nicolais make necessary substitutions.
working arrangement nearly unheard of in basketball. Glenville may be
the only East Region team where assistant coaches have such
Head Lady Pioneers Coach Steve Harold along the sidelines
during a recent contest. Harold is three-time WVIAC Coach
of the Year and his team is currently ranked 6th in the nation
(Photo by Drew Moody)
Harold and his staff share a high set of standards and vision of
excellence for the Lady Pioneers. They trust and respect each other. It
may well be the quality and depth of the relationships between everyone
involved in the program that provides the solid foundation for the
success the Lady Pioneers have consistently experienced.
Fitzpatrick said Harold has the ability analyze 'in real time' subtle
weaknesses of the opposing team. He also studies the movements of
everyone on the floor, frequently anticipating the 'next move' of
The Lady Pioneers will have one day to practice before Tuesday's contest
against Minnesota State University - Moorhead. Wednesday the team will
face 5th ranked Washburn University (Kan).
Washburn suffered an upset
this week and may be coming off that loss less confident. Prior to that
loss Washburn was ranked the number one NCAA Division II team in the U.S.
Harold says the team will have their hands full with Washburn. "They're
the real deal."
"The good part is this team knows how to win."
"We can be inconsistent," Redick added, "but nobody on this team ever
After Wednesday's big game, the team, coaches and fans plan on enjoying
Hawaii for two days prior to returning home. A visit to the Pearl Harbor
Memorial is included in the itinerary.
The Lady Pioneers held a variety of fund raisers beginning in early
spring to cover expenses for trip.
The remainder of those traveling with the team paid their own expenses.
The team has an impressive (and long) list of winning statistics. Among
them, in the past eight years The Lady Pioneers have only been defeated
twice on their home court. Another less known element, encompassing all
women's athletic programs at Glenville State College, is the student
retention rate is just shy of 90-percent.