By Nikki Leonardo
When most coaches start looking for recruits for their upcoming season they usually begin their search in November and continue on until the end of April.
But this was not the case for the new head women’s basketball coach at Flagler College, Sherri Abbey-Nowatzki.
With only one month to recruit players from the time she was hired, Abbey-Nowatzki managed to bring eight new players to the team in such a short time. “It was challenging because it was very late in the season” Abbey-Nowatzki said.
Although tryouts were arranged as soon as she was hired, she credits most of the recruiting to her networking.
Abbey-Nowatzki has been coaching for 15 years – eight at West Point – and knew exactly what she was looking for during the tryout and recruiting process. The number one attribute she wanted in her new recruits was being a “student athlete.”
According to Abbey-Nowatzki, she was looking for players with “high academics and a competitiveness and passion for basketball. Kids who can run the floor, multitask, and raise the level of play.”
Three out of the eight recruits are transfers, which is an advantage because she was able to bring in players already having college experience. Junior transfer Melanie Aguila has high hopes for the upcoming season.
“Since we have eight new recruits, a new head coach and a new system, this will be a growing year for us,” she said. “We are just starting to get used to playing with one another while learning a new system, but we already have great chemistry on the floor.”
Of the new recruits, sophomores Elizabeth Tuzzolo and Alison Oates look to be great impact players. Freshmen recruits Kortne Jackson, Karlyn Reddish, Jalisa Foster and Lauren Ballie have the competitive drive that look to raise the bar and pick up the pace of the Lady Saints’ game, according to Abbey-Nowatski.
“They are strong competitors with a good pre-season and will compete for playing time,” Abbey-Nowatzki said. “I am amazed at how well the new girls adapted with the returning players and the returning players acceptance of the new ones. We are all working together for one goal.”
As she looks forward to her first season with the Saints, Aguila feels the team will have an exciting year.
“I just can’t wait until we start playing teams that don’t think much of Flagler College women’s basketball team,” she said. “I can’t wait to start catching some teams by surprise.”
The first game for the Lady Saints will be Nov. 2, an exibition game against Jacksonville University.