Kathleen Wylie learned a long time ago that successful high school basketball teams are built over time, and in the months before and after the winter.
“I watched it happen at Holy Names when I was growing up,” said Wylie, Schenectady High School’s new varsity girls’ basketball coach. “Holy Names went from this little girls’ school that never went to the sectionals to a powerhouse every year. That started because of the efforts of my dad building in the offseason.”
Wylie has her own construction project in mind that she hopes will bring Schenectady back to basketball prominence. Just a few seasons ago, in 2008-09, the Lady Patriots were among Section II’s elite teams with 19 victories and a Big 10 championship under coach Carol Lupo.
“I live in Schenectady and have followed the program. They’ve had successful years in the past, but at this point, it’s a rebuilding time,” said Wylie.
Her objective is to create a solid base from which success will grow, just as her father, Joe Anastasio, did at Holy Names.
“My immediate focus is to get a youth program going for the girls. The boys have had one for quite a while. Feeder isn’t going through at this point,” said the University at Albany graduate. “My goal is to have something going this year.”
It won’t be new territory for Wylie, who co-founded the Junior Falcons Youth League in Albany. For her efforts, she was recognized by civic leaders for leading the first-ever basketball program open to all girls in the city of Albany.
“That was around 1996 or 1997, with [former Albany High School coach] Leslie Bogucki, and it
expanded into an AAU program to give the girls something for the future,” said Wylie. “Look at Albany now. They’re really getting the fruits of that. A lot of the girls who are playing for Albany went through the youth program.”
While Albany was winning its second straight Big 10 title and 19 games last season, Schenectady prevailed just once, against a Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons team that had Wylie on the bench as a varsity assistant.
Wylie’s athletic resume also
includes one season as Bishop Gibbons’ freshman coach, six seasons as a varsity assistant at Albany High and three seasons directing teams in the Capital District Youth Basketball League.
“Kathleen stood out for a number of reasons,” said Steve Boynton, Schenectady’s athletic director. “She has coaching experience at the varsity level. She has been committed to basketball for years. She came highly recommended by Leslie.”
Wylie played four seasons at Holy Names, starting at point guard in the last three. She led her team to the Colonial Council title and a 21-1 record as a senior in 1994. She was recruited by several colleges, but a knee injury ended Wylie’s playing career prematurely.
“Surgery kept me from pursuing
my playing career, so I started coaching at 19 in summer leagues,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to be a coach because I saw the ways my father was able to impact so many lives.”
Wylie’s first Schenectady team will be a mix of varsity veterans, lower-level graduates and hopefully, she said, some new faces to the program.
“I know there are a lot of talented girls in the district who did not come out for this reason or that. I’m going to go out to the courts and try to find them,” she said. “It could be a great opportunity for them. I want to encourage any girls interested to come out to play.”
Wylie will be teaching much more than the Xs and Os of the game.
“I’m big on fundamentals.
Defense. Team play. A team that plays well together wins a lot more games,” she said. “But I want to get really involved in the psychological side, too. I want to deal with mental toughness. How to handle pressure and adversity. Not making excuses. Goal setting. My dad taught me a lot about those things. They are things that can help so much in basketball, but also help in life beyond basketball.”
Lupo stepped down for personal reasons after seven seasons with the Schenectady varsity. Her Lady Patriots four times finished with double-digit victories, topped by their 19-4 mark in 2008-09. Schenectady captured its only league championship that season behind two-time Gazette All-Area first-team star Sheila Dixon, put together winning streaks of eight and seven games and reached the Section II semifinals for the first time.
Schenectady went 6-12 overall in 2009-10 and 12-7 in 2010-11 before last season’s 1-17 showing.