Barb Metcalf wanted the Packer girls' basketball head coaching job the last time the position was open, and Lynette Mund ended up getting hired. A little patience paid off for Metcalf last Wednesday, when she was named West Fargo coach in the wake of Mund's resignation last month.
Metcalf coached freshmen basketball at West Fargo the last two seasons after posting a 26-44 record from 2003-06 as the head girls' basketball coach at Fargo Shanley. Metcalf replaces Mund who plans to marry and move to the Bismarck area after six seasons in charge at West Fargo.
Metcalf said she wasn't expecting another shot at the varsity head coaching position and was content coaching freshmen.
"It wasn't something that I had been planning," she said. "I was just very comfortable doing what I was doing. I loved coaching freshmen because that's where you really learn how to coach. You coach your own team and get kids what you need to develop, and you can really see their progress from beginning to end."
In 2004, Metcalf took an underdog Shanley team, that finished dead last in the EDC, all the way to a fourth place finish at the state tournament by guiding them to one big upset after another. She served as an assistant basketball coach at Shanley from 2002-03. Aside from the last two seasons, Metcalf also coached freshmen basketball at West Fargo from 1993-2001.
She said she plans to increase participation in girls' basketball at West Fargo by making basketball fun, which she said is part of her philosophy.
"You have to bend over backwards to get kids to come out for you," said Metcalf. "You have to entice them with the idea that work is fun and it's fun to reap the rewards of your work."
Metcalf pointed to the volleyball program which has high participation.
"We need one to two freshmen teams. We need to build those numbers up. We're not going to win a state tournament with eight or 10 kids. We need 15 kids on a varsity bench," she said.
After the graduation of five-year varsity player Mary-Michael Vance in 2007, the Packers struggled to find an on-court leader this past season and finished with a 6-15 overall record. West Fargo failed to qualify for the state tournament for the second year in a row, and was the only EDC team without an all-conference player.
Eight players averaged between 5.8 and 6.9 points-per-game, including juniors Jessie Gust, Blake Selisker, Alyssa Hummel and Aryelle Jones, who will have an opportunity to return for their senior seasons.
"I'm excited to play. We'll all have to work really hard," said Selisker. "We have a lot of summer camps this year, and I think it'll be a good start for us."
Metcalf said she's spoken with Mandan coach Greg Amundson, whose teams have won several state titles in recent years, about playing the Packers this summer.
"We're going to be traveling so we can get some better competition," she said.
Freshman Katelyn Holland practiced with Metcalf's freshmen squads as an eighth-grader and said she's ready for the challenge the new coach will bring to Packer basketball. Holland scored 14 points in a season-ending varsity loss to Fargo North in the EDC tournament after being called up by Mund. She will likely be a varsity regular next season.
"I think (Metcalf) will push us hard, and she likes to do a lot of pressing and pressuring the ball, and I like to do that too," said Holland. "I think she'll be a really good coach for that. If everybody does what we need to do this summer, we'll be good next year."
Metcalf said she's not planning on taking her time in getting the Packers back among the state's elite. The Packers last won the EDC regular season title in 2006. The Packers have won two state titles in school history, in 1993 and 1998 - both under longtime coach Collette Folstad.
"Our goal is always going to be to win state," said Metcalf.
Metcalf has taught for West Fargo Public Schools since 1993 and has a bachelor of science from the University of Mary. She qualified for the national track and field meet all four years she was a student at University of Mary, and was inducted into its women's basketball Hall of Fame in 2000. She is married to Steve Metcalf and has two children.