Prep girls basketball: Black Eagles begin new era under Testa
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Like most head coaches, John Testa had to work his way from the bottom.
Testa, the new girls basketball coach at South Charleston High School, started his coaching career with his little brother at the local YMCA.
His next step up the ladder for Testa in the coaching ranks landed him at East Fairmont High School, where he coached the freshman girl's team for five years before spending two years at Division III Goucher in Baltimore, Md.
Testa received his biggest break yet three years ago, when he earned a position on the University of Charleston's women's basketball staff, where he learned from Sherry Winn.
After two years at UC, Testa makes his jump to South Charleston, where he replaces Gary Greene, who stepped down after guiding the Black Eagles to a 90-15 record and State Tournament appearances in every one of his four seasons there.
Testa will get his first opportunity as a head coach when South Charleston opens its season on the road Nov. 27th at Parkersburg.
"South Charleston is one of most prominent programs, and when the position opened up, I was lucky enough to walk into a great job," Testa said. "I don't know the words to describe the feeling."
Testa said he is grateful for the opportunity, and thankful for the experience he gained the past two seasons under Winn.
Winn retired in July after guiding UC to a 237-100 record in her 11 seasons, including two NCAA Division II Elite eight appearances, two West Virginia Conference regular season titles, and two conference tournament championships.
"My time at UC was awesome," Testa said. "Coach Winn was an Olympian (U.S. handball teams in 1984 and 1988). What else can I say about her? I learned so much from her."
Testa's coaching philosophy is a simple one.
"I don't want the kids thinking," Testa said. "I want to teach them the game of basketball and let them go play. You have to prepare the kids and let them go. We will go after it on the defensive end and attack on offense. It's a style the fans will enjoy."
Testa has his work cut out for him after six roster members - including five starters - graduated.
"We lost a lot of good players but there still is a lot here," Testa said. "The kids are working so hard. They would run through a wall if I asked them too. They are doing whatever it takes to get to the next level."
Four players who saw playing time last season return in Alliyah Webb, Laci Jarrell, Lina Villanueva, and Aryuanna Mosley. Testa will look to them as well as Meredith Lauerman, a 6-foot-3 volleyball standout.
"We don't have a lot of experience but the girls are stepping up and doing the things I ask of them," Testa said.
"Alliyah and Laci have been around for a long time, and have been leading. Their job is to make everybody better, no matter how they can."
Despite losing so much and returning an inexperienced team, the goal remains the same for Testa.
"My goal never changes," Testa said. "We want to win the conference, the section, region, and state tournament. I'll take three of four. I don't care how young they are at the beginning. At the end of the season, they aren't young anymore."
Testa remains in good standing with the new coaching staff at UC, and is using his connections for the betterment of the SC program. Several of the UC players have already been at the Black Eagle practices, and will throughout the season.