BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — Sometime this year, Traverse City West will have only its second girls basketball coach.
Patti Tibaldi — the only coach the girls' program has ever known — stepped down after last season, and a search is on to find a replacement for the state coaches association Hall of Famer who posted over 700 high school victories.
Tibaldi's dual role as basketball coach and athletic director was definitely a big factor in the decision to step down after leading the West program for 15 years.
"It's a combination," Tibaldi said. "I've probably thought about this every year for awhile. ... I feel like I have a great group of kids returning, and as much as I hate to leave them — it's killing me — I wanted to leave a good group for someone coming in. With all the issues coming up — budget cuts, added responsibilities — I didn't feel like I could give the kids the time they deserve and give justice to both jobs."
The Titans were 14-7 last season, as she notched career victory No. 700 in the team's third game of the year. She ended with 712 victories and led West to three regional finals appearances.
TC West has a solid team returning, including all-Big North standout Katie Placek, who made an impact as a freshman. The Titans lost only three players from their 14-7 team — Ressa Borkovich, Alexis Zywicki and first-team all-BNC pick sharp-shooter Shaina Streeter — and had eight juniors on that squad.
"They'll have a lot of experience," Tibaldi said. "They're just a great group of girls. They get along. This year was wonderful. They worked hard, and I'd like to think they carried it over to the soccer season — lots of kids on that varsity are also basketball players. I love the multiple-sport athletes. I think it's great."
The process to find Tibaldi's replacement starts today.
"They're going to be interviewing the first round (today)," Tibaldi said. "We'll do a round of interviews, and if we don't think there's a person really qualified, we'll continue looking. We don't know about teaching openings yet, so that's hard."
Tibaldi said she'd like to have a coach in place soon, because the program has three summer camps already set up — two in late June and one in August.
"It'd be nice to have one in there (by then)," Tibaldi said, "but we're going to make sure we've got a good one in there."