Veteran coach Rex Cooksey doesn’t want his Lady Eagles to cower in fear at the sight of a jersey.
Clearing the mental hurdle that accompanies facing stout competition has often been one of Cooksey’s greatest challenges at “Class A” Fairview.
In his last stint as the Lady Eagles’ leader, he said he noticed a difference in Year 4. This go-round, he’s hoping Year 2 supplies that difference.
“It took me a little longer with the girls to get over that mental aspect of the jersey, who you’re playing against, the physicality, things like that,” Cooksey said.
He will lean on experienced guards Gracie Crisp and Jordan Rakes to provide backcourt stability. Crisp was an All-Area selection after putting in 15 points per game last season. Rakes notched 13.8 a contest and eclipsed 1,000 points.
Cooksey said Crisp, Rakes and Josey Nelson are all capable of handling point guard duties.
“It helps our transition game that way because we’re not looking for one person to get it out to get us in transition,” Cooksey said.
Crisp said the team had much tougher cardiovascular conditioning this preseason than in years past.
“We’re really focused on getting down the court in transition,” said the senior. “We’re running a lot more, but I think that will help.”
Added Cooksey: “We’ve pushed them pretty hard. Our running program, we’ve probably run them as much or more than any boys team I’ve coached.”
Crisp, heeding Cooksey’s guidance, is helping direct younger Lady Eagles by “telling them where they’re supposed to be, those sort of things.”
Crisp, Rakes and Nelson have help, Cooksey assured.
“We’re returning six out of our top seven players,” said the coach. “I feel like we made improvements last year.”
Rachel Hanshaw, Kiera Loving and Jordan Meeks are among the returners. Senior Madison Shaffer is back after a one-year hiatus.
“I think these girls work really good together,” Crisp said. “I feel like as we keep playing together, we’ll just get better and get everybody more involved.”
Cooksey’s youngest son, Brett, is the boys coach. His oldest son, Derek, is an assistant to boys coach Tom Barrick at Russell after having led Fairview for a decade. His wife, Lisa, is a teacher. His daughter, Brooke, is a teacher at Ashland.
“We’ve got a house full of teachers and coaches, and I don’t guess there’s anything wrong with that,” Cooksey said.
If he’s not at the court trying to help Fairview improve upon a 12-18 2018-19, one may find him at Bellefonte Country Club.
“If it’s 40 or above and the wind’s not blowing,” he said.