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When East coach speaks, her players should listen

By Victoria Advocate
April 28, 2010 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2010 at 11:28 p.m.

Freshman Sonya Acuna does push-ups after missing a basket as coach Wimbish-North watches. The former Victoria High School standout basketball player will be the new girls basketball coach for Victoria East.

\nYulonda Wimbish-North

Career Highlights

Victoria High: 102-9 record, two state tournament appearances, state championship in 1982

University of Texas: Undefeated national championship in 1986, Southwest Conference Player of the Year for the 1987-88 season

Texas Association of Basketball Coaches: Inducted into Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2000

College Coaching: Assistant at Wisconsin, Illinois, Detroit Mercy, Michigan.

High School Coaching: Faith Academy, 2 years assistant, 1 year head coach, 2007 TAPPS state tournament. Head coach at Victoria East for inaugural 2010-11 season

Here's some advice for members of the Victoria East girls basketball team.

When the lady you call coach North tells you to do something, do it.

Trust me she knows what's she's talking about.

If you want a second opinion, ask your dad.

Notice I said your father and not your mother. Coach North, aka Yulonda Wimbish, may have played basketball with him at the YMCA. Yes, she was good enough to play with boys and sometimes better.

The name may sound familiar and for good reason. Wimbish had a 102-9 record during her three seasons on the varsity at Victoria High.

She averaged double figures in scoring all three seasons and led her team to two state tournament appearances, winning the Class 5A state championship in 1982.

"To me, she is the epitome of a basketball player," said Jan Lahodny, Wimbish's coach at Victoria High. "To do what she did is just amazing.

"The thing I liked best about her is she made no excuses as a player. She would never say I can't do this or I can't do that."

Wimbish went on to play for the University of Texas where she overcame a serious knee injury and was a member of Jody Conradt's undefeated national championship team in 1986 and was the Southwest Conference player of the year for the 1987-88 season.

Wimbish is not lacking in coaching experience. She was an assistant coach for four college teams, including Wisconsin and Michigan in the Big Ten.

She was an assistant at Faith Academy for two seasons before becoming the head coach and taking the team to the 2007 TAPPS state tournament.

But don't get the idea that Wimbish is one dimensional. She earned a master's degree in speech and has been working as the Victoria school district's parent liaison since returning to Victoria from San Antonio in 2003, not long after her husband suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 48.

Wimbish was raising her three daughters alone with help from her mother until remarrying. Wimbish-North now has four girls ranging in age from 2 to 10, and by the way, the 10-year-old is already 5-feet tall.

Wimbish-North's decision to return to coaching was based on her love for the game and her interest in working with young people in her hometown.

"I really wasn't in an arena where I could give back like I wanted to do," she said. "There were some kids that I desired to maybe be their mentor and spend more time with them. Some of these kids I played with their fathers. I had all these great intentions of spending time with them, to go watch them, but there just wasn't enough time in the day to do it so in order to be able to give back I need to be in this setting."

Wimbish-North has ideas about how she intends to build a program and not surprisingly many of them came from Lahodny and Conradt.

"My background and the thing I believe in most, something that was certainly stressed a lot in high school as well as college is defense," Wimbish-North said. "When you're looking at those teams that are going to the state tournament and winning at the state tournament, those are teams that play defense very well.

"My background is going to be the defensive part and stressing that. Just demanding for kids to give 100 percent. That's all I know. I don't know anything else."

Actually, Wimbish-North has learned a lot about life and it's unpredictability.

She knows the opportunity to do something special should not be missed - a message her players should heed.

"I think I should be able to demand excellence because it's in the best interests of the kids to help them to be the best student-athlete they can be," Wimbish-North said. "Hopefully, the parents will know I have the interests of the kids at heart. The desire is to make them be better at whatever level they're at."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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