On Monday, the Notre Dame lady Titans beat Clay 64-44 to pick up their 15th victory of the season. The win was more meaningful for head coach JD McKenzie as he notched his 100th career victory.
McKenzie, now in his sixth season with the Titans, gave the credit to the teams he’s coached over the years.
“I’ve had a bunch of good kids, a bunch of good athletes, a bunch of good basketball players who bought into what I was selling six years ago to kind of change the perception of Notre Dame girls basketball,” McKenzie said. “They bought into hard work. They bought into believing they could accomplish things that hadn’t been accomplished before. They bought into working hard into the offseason.”
One of McKenzie’s former players Brooke Pierron, who received several individual accolades during her high-school career, wasn’t surprised McKenzie deflected the credit back to his players.
“He always likes to give us the credit. He’ll coin the term, ‘I’ve always had good players.’ But I don’t think he realizes how much he wants to make us want to be the best that we can be. We all work hard for that goal,” Pierron said.
Pierron enjoyed her experience playing for McKenzie.
“I loved playing for him,” Pierron said. “He was always very hard on me and all of us, but I think it taught us a lot of discipline and the value of teamwork. He taught us what it actually means to come together as a family.
Creating a family atmosphere is important to McKenzie and through the support of his personal family, McKenzie has a solid foundation to lean on. His wife Crystal McKenzie is an assistant coach and his two children, Piper and Colt McKenzie, attend every game along with his mother Barbra McKenzie.
The only regret McKenzie had on Monday night was not having his father there by his side to celebrate. Jim McKenzie passed away in 2010 on Valentines day.
“The one thing I thought about last night was I wish my dad would have been here to see it,” McKenzie said. “He was a big basketball fan. He never got to see me coach girls. He got to see me coach (junior varsity) boys one year under Matt (Mader).
“Basketball season is always kind of an emotional time for me because of that. Anytime someone asks what I would change, it would have been cool for my dad to see last night.”
Now that 100 has come and gone, McKenzie can start working toward 200 victories.
“It’s pretty awesome to look back and see what we’ve accomplished the last six years and we hope the next six years are just as successful.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.