SPRINGFIELD, NJ – Jonathan Dayton Girls Basketball Coach Dave Rennie was recognized as the Union County Conference’s (UCC) Girls Basketball Coach of the Year. He received the award after the Bulldogs won the most games of any Dayton girls basketball team. They started playing in 1972.
For Coach Rennie, this was his 21st year coaching the team. At the beginning of the season, he said, “The players have set a solid foundation going into the season because of their work ethic, athletic ability, comradery and chemistry.” Most of its players were back from last season’s team, which had a 17-9 record. Four of those players started every game last year and played almost every game this year.
The foundation set by the players was not just solid, it was very strong. When the 2018 season ended, Jonathan Dayton’s girls varsity basketball team had a 22-4 record and its 17th consecutive winning season.
When he talked about the strength of Dayton's girls basketball teams, he talked about the strength of girls basketball in Springfield where the process of building the foundation starts early. Specifically, Coach Rennie commented on the quality of the players coming from the developmental sources in Springfield. He said, “At all levels the coaches know the game and teach it well.”
I have been his Junior Varsity coach for 17 basketball seasons and have continually been amazed with how dedicated he is in his approach to the craft of coaching. It is a year-round pursuit for him to continually improve as a coach. It is fitting that the he is recognized with the honor of being the Union County Conference Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
Each and every year he's adapted to whatever the roster has provided to maximize the program's performance. His record is outstanding.
He really has helped me personally become a better coach by the model he has set. He also has let every player know how much they mean to him as an individual. He always wants the best for his players. He genuinely cares for these kids.
Many of the players feel much the same.
Senior Captain Amanda Lau said, “Over the past four years, I’ve had the pleasure of being coached by Coach Rennie in both basketball and softball. I’m grateful for his constant encouragement, motivation, and support on and off the court, and will cherish all the great memories my teammates and I had playing together.”
Senior Melanie Schickler said, “I am so thankful I had the opportunity to have Coach Rennie as my basketball coach for four years. He was incredibly helpful to each and every player and I admire his enthusiasm for the game of basketball.”
Senior Gabriella Petruzzella said, “Coach Rennie always supported all of us on and off the court. We look up to him, like a second dad. He is so easy to talk to to and understands us all. I had the pleasure of having him as a Principal at Caldwell and as a coach. So, I guess you can say I’m double lucky. I truly am going to miss playing for such an amazing coach.”
Junior Sayre Brandstatter said, “"Coach Rennie was able to bring out the best in each player on our team, as all of us contributed to the winning season in different ways. We all had the same goal of winning the county conference, and he encouraged us to play our best as a team at all times. I am always proud to be a part of the Dayton team, but especially this year when he won Union County Conference Coach of the year."
Junior Caitlynn McTernan said, “Coach Rennie definitely deserved the Union County Conference Coach of the Year. He is an extremely caring and motivating coach and is always pushing us to do our best.
Coach Rennie promotes an extremely positive team atmosphere by coming up with things for us to do with each other, such as the Giving Key. The Giving Key was something that coach started my freshman year, and we did it through my sophomore year. The captains started off with key necklaces that said "inspire" on them at the beginning of the year, and whenever they felt inspired by a teammate, they handed the key off to them and explained to the team why they felt that person deserved the key.
Coach Rennie has always made sure that we have a good team atmosphere and work together to the best out our abilities. He always motivated us to do our best on and off the court. He was very understanding when we had to go to a review for a class after school. He also always had little things to give us to motivate us to do our best, such as pins that said "believe" and notepads to write down our goals for the season, and how we were going to achieve them.
Coach Rennie spent a lot of hours putting film together for us to watch and analyze before a game, which is extremely crucial and beneficial to us. Coach always has the best motivating pre-game, half-time, and post-game talks as well. I am really appreciative and grateful to have someone like Coach Rennie as my coach. Again, he is very deserving of this award.”
Caitlynn McTernan’s parents, Sarah and Sean McTernan, said, “It was no surprise to us that Coach Rennie received this year’s Union County Coach of the Year Award!
We have known Coach Rennie for many years, long before Caity started playing for him. We knew him first as a motivating fourth grade teacher and then as a fantastic Principal. So, we were excited for Caity to experience him as a coach. We started regularly attending Dayton Girls Varsity games when Caity was in early elementary school. We always noticed Coach Rennie’s enthusiasm and the obvious connection he had with his players.
Caity has had a wonderful first three seasons playing for Coach Rennie. He always encourages the girls to do their best, while also having fun. He helps foster a positive team dynamic. This year’s team especially, had the best camaraderie we have seen yet. They really connected as a team. They celebrated each other’s successes as two players reached their 1,000th career point and the team clinched the conference championship. Throughout the season, we often heard the parents, coaches and fans of other teams commenting on how well coached our team was and about our impressive team dynamic. Kudos to Coach Rennie!”
The 2018 team also won the Joe Pepe Tournament and were Union County Conference Valley Division Champions. They made it to the quarterfinals of the Union County Conference Tournament and the semifinals of the NJSIAA North 2 Group 1 Sectional Tournament.
Their victories almost always began with tenacious team defense and usually ended up being lopsided. Only two of the 22 wins were by less than ten points. The average margin of victory was 26 points and seven of the wins were by a margin of more than 30 points.
Two players passed the 1,000-career point mark during the season. Senior Captain Amanda Lau did it during the Joe Pepe Tournament and junior Sayre Brandstatter did it during the first game of the NJSIAA tournament. They are two of only 13 players to pass that mark. Lau has the fifth highest scoring total of any Dayton varsity girls basketball player with 1,353 points.
Sophomore Michelle Bellino was named one of the top 50 girls basketball players in New Jersey.
As a team, the players made 171 three-point shots, more than any team in the last five years and probably ever.
Graduating from this year’s team are Captains Amanda Lau and Nicolette Angelo, starter Melanie Schickler, Zoe Frei and Gabriella Petruzzella.
Next year, juniors Sayre Brandstatter and Caitlynn McTernan will be Captains. They should be joined by Michelle Bellino, juniors Maggie Phillips and Julia Cohen, and sophomores Lily Dvorchik and Haeley Santos.
The goals going into the next season are likely to be the same as the goals at the beginning of the 2018 season. It starts with having another winning season. Then, have success in the Union County Tournament, do well in the sectional and state tournament, and develop the young players.
It all starts with helping the players build a solid foundation.