Al Gleich brings his experience to Cougars

"Al Gleich made the most of his time the last couple of years. But when the job he really wanted opened up, he was ready.Gleich, a veteran area boys basketball coach who ran the Olympic High School program from 1985-95, recently was appointed head boys coach at Central Kitsap High School. It was a job he applied for after John Sitton stepped down following the 1998-99 season, but was given to CK alum and Sitton assistant Tim Dower.They showed loyalty to Dower, and I can appreciate that, said Gleich, 57. I was excited about the job then, and I'm excited about it now.Gleich stayed busy the last two years, first by assisting with the King's West boys program under Rick Walker (the last of a four-year stint there), then by taking an assistant coach's post with the Cincinnati Stuff of the International Basketball League. The most recent job required that he take a year off from teaching at Olympic High School.I've been teaching for 32 years, and (coaching at the pro level) was something I'd always dreamed about. Everybody supported me, the district supported me, and it was a great opportunity.What it did for me, though, was it made me realize what level I enjoy the most, and that's high school, he said.So when Dower's two-year stint at CK ended, Gleich was happy to throw his name back into the ring.He takes over a program that totaled 10 wins in 40 starts over the last two years, including a 7-25 Olympic League record. This year, the Cougars enter the Narrows League Bridge Division, assuredly a tougher row to hoe than the multiclassification Oly League.The transition will be very difficult, he said. Our players are going to have to realize that we'll be in a tough game every night. We're going to have to be very competitive-minded and focused for every game.Gleich, who met with players in the CK program last Friday afternoon, said it will be the job of himself and assistant coach Murray Webb to implement a system that fits the talents of those players.We've got to try and utilize our strengths and stay away from our weaknesses, he said. We don't have a real big team, but that doesn't matter so much. In 1993, we made it to state with a very small (OHS) group. That team played to its strengths and made it to state.Gleich said he, like most coaches, would prefer to play an up-tempo style, but added that he's going to reserve any decision until he's more familiar with his players. That process will begin almost immediately, as the Cougars participate in a summer league and team camp, tournaments and summer practices. Play began Monday in a league administered by Walker's Sports Beyond program.He admitted that much has changed in area prep basketball circles, above and beyond the switch to the Narrows League. Most of the local coaching jobs have changed hands since he left the Olympic bench in 1995.Gleich pointed out, though, that, just because he's not hovering around 30 years of age, his knowledge of the game isn't cutting-edge. He pointed out that working for the Stuff under ex-University of Washington assistant Mike Frink helped keep him up to date.He also met former Montana scoring whiz Reece Gliko while working for the Stuff, and his recommendation was instrumental in Gliko's being hired to succeed Barry Janusch as head men's coach at Olympic College.I'm very current, he said of his coaching methods. I like the technology, I use video to scout, I have all the computer diagrams for making diagrams and charts.On the court, though, his self-description sounded decidedly old school.I'm demanding, and I'm organized, he said. I'm a perfectionist in terms of running practices.There's really nothing new in basketball, he added. It's the same game I've been coaching all these years. "

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