Updated 1/25: This game has been postponed due to Cranford High School transitioning to full remote learning for two weeks.
CRANFORD - New head coach of the Cranford High School girls basketball team, Allison Skrec, has her work cut out for her in her rookie season at the helm.
Skrec takes over a program that hasn't had a winning record since the 2015-16 season, will be coaching through a pandemic, and to put the icing on the cake, will face off against her father, Joe Skrec, head coach of Roselle Catholic, in her coaching debut on Tuesday.
"It's super exciting to think about, but still a bit surreal," said Skrec. "But leading up to the game, all my focus is on preparing my girls for opening night."
Skrec takes over for long-time head coach Jackie Dyer who departed for Union Catholic after 13 years. Skrec brings an impressive resume to the Union County Conference that she is quite familiar with. A graduate of Roselle Catholic, Skrec won the Union County Conference Player of the Year in her junior and senior seasons, while also leading her team to back-to-back Union County Tournament championships and a pair of conference championships.
Following her high school career, Skrec went on to play at Manhattan College in the Bronx where she earned a spot on the MAAC All-Academic Team three times. Upon her graduation from Manhattan College, Skrec joined the coaching staff at Seton Hall as a graduate assistant for two seasons, followed by being promoted to Director of Basketball Operations. While she has been an assistant on her father's staff for the past three years, Skrec now looks forward to leading a high school program of her own.
"I'm looking to bring in some fresh energy and enthusiasm," said Skrec. "I want to get the girls really excited to be out there and buy-in to what I'm teaching."
The Cougars will have six seniors on the roster this season - Caroline Bush, Natalia Kruk, Elizabeth McCaffery, Olivia Merriman, Amanda Vath, and Kirsten Williams - and Coach Skrec will rely on all of them to guide their younger teammates not only on the court but also off the court, specifically with staying safe in regard to COVID-19.
"We talk with the girls and we're pretty open about not putting themselves in positions that could hurt the team," said Skrec. "We've preached to stay away from large gatherings and to not be selfish. The seniors have been fantastic, and they've all been leaders in their own way. Some are more vocal and some lead by example, but you can tell that the younger girls look up to them."
Cranford kicks off its season this Tuesday at home against Roselle Catholic at 7 p.m.