"OC women back with new coach, new attitude"
June 11, 2008 · Updated 4:34 PM
"It's not Rick Peters' job this winter to win a Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) championship, or a Northern Division title, or even finish with a .500-plus record. Peters' job, pure and simple, is to turn a negative into a positive. Peters, a veteran of recreation and military coaching, assumes his first college coaching assignment this year, taking over an Olympic College women's team that's gone from feast to famine in the last three years. The 1999-2000 season ended with just three victories in 25 starts for a program that had gotten used to appearing in the NWAACC conference championship tournament under long-time coach Dave Sturgeon. Peters says he's not worried about what went wrong, or why. His is not to wonder, or to do wonders. At least not right away. I'm not concerned with wins and losses, says Peters, who was recruited by OC athletic director Barry Janusch to replace Marvin Williams and become the fourth head coach of the Lady Rangers in the four years since Sturgeon retired from the position.The first thing I had to accomplish here was to create a positive attitude. Last year was a very negative time for this program. It doesn't take but a few minutes during a practice in the Bremer Center to see that the attitude is up. The sophomores we have are eager to win after last year, Peters says. And the freshmen who have come in, well, most of them don't really know how to lose. Things have been very positive. The Rangers actually have three sophomores on this year's roster, but only two of them - post players Kori Spencer and Tina Johnson, from Olympic and Central Kitsap high schools, respectively - suffered through the 3-22 season. The third, OHS product Lindsay Nelson, played at OC under Lee Smith (with late-inning relief from David Kraft) two years ago and vowed, according to Peters, never to return. I think she saw things were going to be different this year, Peters says. Spencer, a powerful 5-foot-11 post presence, was an impact player for the Rangers last year, and some conscientious preseason work could increase her scoring and rebounding numbers. Johnson and Nelson, both 5-10, combine with freshman Aurora Washington, somewhat of an unknown commodity from South Kitsap, to give OC a bit of an improvement from last year in the size department. Kori's got such an incredible sweet shot, Peters says of Spencer, who developed from a project to a starter during her OHS career under coach Jerry Hurd. We've worked mainly on her fundamentals, and she's giving it all she can give. Fundamentals were in short supply the last couple of years, but Peters has been stressing them in preseason practices, hoping to get his players comfortable with several different roles in order to facilitate the fast-paced, free-flowing style he wants to teach. I don't want our players to be one-dimensional, he says. I want them all to be able to bring the ball up the court and set it up, or be comfortable inside. We have the big girls in ball-handling drills, and we have our small girls working in the post. The Rangers aren't exactly going to strike fear into most NWAACC opponents with their height. But with Spencer, Johnson and newcomer Allison Harmon (Nooksack Valley), he feels he has the players to play a half-court game ... as a second option. I'm more of a fast-paced, up-and-down coach, Peters says. I want to beat the other team up and down the court. (OC) didn't have the players last year to play that style, but we do this year. Melissa Edwards, a 5-7 talent from South Kitsap, infuses some polish into the young OC lineup, and fits the multi-talented role Peters sees for his players. Two more freshmen, Oly's Shar Agee and CK's Holly Thatcher (actually a 1999 grad who didn't play last year), will help keep the tempo up - both can run, and finish, the break and are decent pull-up jump shooters. Nelson and Hannah Proctor, another SK grad, also can run the floor, but have the height (Nelson is 5-10, Proctor 5-9) to make themselves useful inside, as well. Roxy Bennett (Reno, Nev.) and Kelly Sparber (North Mason) will add scoring punch from outside, particularly if Bennett is all the way back from a knee injury. "