Several changes have taken place in the Lady Longhorn basketball program.
Last spring, Shaun Hardt was the head coach of a team that was coming off the most successful season (21-8) in the history of the program. Michelle Closs had just earned the team’s “Spark Plug” award her for spirited play and Brandi Waugh was celebrating the co-Most Valuable Player award she shared with teammate Whitney Hardt.
When hardwood practices for the new season tipped off Nov. 4, Shaun Hardt, Whitney Hardt, Closs and Waugh were nowhere to be found.
The coach resigned last summer to take over the Round Valley High School football program. Whitney, his daughter, moved with the family to Eagar and is now competing for the Elks.
Closs and Waugh both graduated with the Class of 2002.
Following Shaun Hardt’s resignation, Krystal Garvin a PHS English teacher and longtime coach was named his successor.
For Garvin, the biggest challenge of her new position will be to live up to past expectations.
“The Lady Longhorns have had a successful program for many years, both with Jerry Daniels and Shaun,” she said. “Now I’ve got the pressure of seeing that it continues that can be intimidating at times.”
Following Hardt’s resignation, Garvin ho was the boys freshman coach last season ever considered taking over the program
“Since my son (Chris Donaldson) was playing on the varsity team, I was enjoying being part of the boys program,” she said.
“I thought I’d end up coaching one more year under (boys head coach) Mike (Loutzenheiser) until Chris graduated.”
Although Garvin didn’t express any interest in leading the Lady Horns, she was aware the girls program could suffer if the right coach wasn’t found.
“There was a great need in the girls program after Shaun left,” she said.
As the summer wore on and the search for a coaching replacement dragged, Garvin had second thoughts about helping out.
“I was encouraged to apply after talking with parents of some of the athletes,” she said.
About a month later after being interviewed by a selection board, Garvin was offered the position.
As the new Lady Horn coach, she brings a wealth of experience to the position.
During her 10 years at Payson High, she has coached girls jayvee basketball, jayvee volleyball, track and the freshman boys team. She also has college playing experience.
When she applied for the job, her stated coaching philosophy was a simple one: “discipline and hard work.”
Among her goals for the first year is to stress the importance of unselfish play in which each athlete, and the coaching staff, churns out their best effort.
“By the end of the season, I want both the players and myself to be able to say, ‘we gave everything we had,’” she said. “I don’t know that you can ask anything more than that.”
If the new coach is successful in selling her approach, Garvin is certain the team will continue its record of achievement.
“If we collectively are dedicated and put forth every effort to learn, teach and strive to improve, how can we not have a successful season?” she asked.
Working alongside Garvin this season will be varsity assistant Terry Klein, jayvee coach Rory Huff, and freshman coach Peggy Miles.
The staff, Garvin said, is an experienced one that has the ability to bring out the best efforts in each of the players.
Because she’s been involved in both the girls and boys hoop programs for years, Garvin has a good grasp on which teams will provide the Lady Horns their greatest competition.
“In the East (region), Round Valley and Snowflake will be tough ... they’ve always been top contenders,” she said.
On the state level, Garvin expects the reservation schools, including Winslow and Tuba City, to be 3A title contenders.
Garvin also says Chandler Seton the team that ousted the Lady Longhorns from last year’s state tournament will again field a potent squad.
The Lady Horns made their debut in a controlled scrimmage last night (Thursday) in Chino Valley. Because it was a preseason scrimmage, no scores were kept.
The season kicks off Monday, Nov. 25 in Camp Verde. Game times are 4 p.m. (freshmen), 5:30 p.m. (jayvee) and 7 p.m. (varsity).