By Kay Braddock
In a sport that has had its fair share of lackluster years, Coach Casey Klasna is seeing a change in tide for the Terry boys’ basketball program.
“We’re starting to click,” Klasna said of this season’s team, which includes a mix of players from all grades including three freshman, two sophomores, two juniors and three seniors. “We’re starting to get some rhythm out there.”
Klasna, who has been head coach for the boys’ team since his arrival to Terry Schools in 2005, has one fundamental coaching attitude.
“Work hard and you play,” he said.
Last summer’s “bigger, faster, stronger,” weight program has been instrumental in the performance of this year’s team, he noted. It was a program that included meeting in the Grandey building’s weight room three times a week for two-hour sessions.
“It takes commitment year-round,” Klasna said.
The importance of an on-going weight regimen for youth participating in athletics is something he and assistant coach Greg Poucher have continued to stress to their players.
“When they could be there, they were there,” he said of his players who participated in the program.
With last year’s dismal two-win record behind them, this season’s early 5-3 record is already proving to be an encouraging boost to the team and overall athletic program at the school. Klasna hopes to see the sport, which has endured a dry spell for a number of years, move back into the winning tradition it once held and believes current and upcoming players are demonstrating the commitment to accomplish the feat.
“Every kid I’ve got this year wants to be there. There’s no bickering,” Klasna said, noting the seniors in particular are displaying leadership qualities.
“I’ve got three freshman that are stepping up really nice,” he added.
But the season has had its fair share of bumps and bruises along the way.
“We were definitely plagued by injuries,” he said. Three of the team’s ten players started the year with injuries, leaving the already small team with fewer options.
With the team’s fourth ranking status, Klasna is optimistic of the team’s upcoming district competition performance noting the team needs to continue to, “polish everything up and be more crisp on their offensive and defensive (tactics).”
Klasna’s love for the sport began at an early age and is due in no small part to his father’s influence. Recalling early memories playing ball at the hoop his father set up in the middle of the family’s Quonset, Klasna said his father’s encouragement fostered his love for the sport.
“I look back and I thank him for pushing me,” he said. “That’s about all we did for entertainment, was basketball.”
As a high school player, Klasna was a part of the Class C Lambert team that won four district championships. As a freshman, the team earned a trip to the state championship, wining their first game and losing the second at the final competition.
Coaching the sport means spending more hours away from his family, wife Billie Jo and two children 4 year-old Rylee and 5-month old Shaylee, but his dedication to the sport and players remains a driving force.
“I love the game. I love competition. I’m there for the kids.”