By Jenna Kosinski

This year, Jim Tildsley, coach of the girls varsity basketball team, retired as one of the most beloved members of the AHS community. The question remained – who would take over for a coach that had led the team to three state titles in a row? The best man for the job was E.J. Perry, who coaches the boy’s football team and recently started coaching the boys’ volleyball team as well.

This year, Coach Perry hopes to continue the success of Coach Tildsley and the girls basketball team. He also knows that it is very hard to duplicate what past teams have done, but he says, “My unique approach is that I am a task master, who uses a disciplined style of basketball; however I will also be a compassionate leader. Obviously the bar and standards have already been set for the girls basketball team. The female athletes at Andover High excel in all sports. Many teams have won state championships or [have come close to the title], proving that they are a unique and exceptional bunch.”

Coach Perry also stated how inspired he was by the legacy left by the former female basketball players at AHS, on and off the court. He knows that it is the current girls’ “honor to carry on the tradition,” and he says that “whether we will be as productive on the playing court or not, [the girls] must be as productive as student/athletes and as citizens of Andover.”

As a former graduate (and basketball player) of Andover High School, Perry has learned how competitive the students are in all sports, which he calls a “proud tradition at AHS.” One of the most important things Coach Perry has learned from coaching is that “our athletes’ intelligence and attention to detail is the greatest asset we have.” Although nobody can predict what will happen next season, Perry is sure of the fact that Andover girls basketball will play hard at all levels (Freshman, JV, and Varsity) and “will represent the community in the proper manner.”

One of the three seniors going into the 2013-2014 season is Rebecca Alois, who has been on the basketball team since her freshman year. Rebecca says that basketball has been her favorite part of high school. She also believes that the team’s success is partially due to how close the girls are, with everybody knowing their role and importance. Two of Alois’s main goals for the season are to “become more of an offensive threat on the court” and to be a “strong leader that the younger players look up to.”

Alois says that she is also very excited about Coach Perry’s abilities: “His enthusiasm is unmatched and his determination to win is contagious. His drive to compete will help us reach our full potential, and motivate us to play harder.” Rebecca also says that the “team’s heart and tenacity distinguishes them from other teams,” and she can’t wait to get out on the court and play her last season at AHS.

Jessica Witten, who will also be a senior next year, looks forward to her last season at the high school, and playing for Coach Perry. She is excited to keep playing “with great girls, against great teams.” For her team goals, Witten would love to win MVC’s and make it to the playoff tournament, and she believes that if everyone “works hard and plays as one unit,” they can do it. Witten believes that Coach Perry’s experience will provide a new outlook and perspective on the game, which she is also looking forward to.

Rachael Cormier, a sophomore going into her junior year at the high school, also anticipates a memorable season. “Although Coach Tildsley will be missed,” she says, “Coach Perry is welcomed with open arms.” After a recent meeting Perry held with his players, Rachael learned that Coach Perry wants each of his players to work on their game individually and then bring it together to work as a single unit. Cormier says that “[she] think this approach will help the team become more fluid on the court.” Cormier also says that “Coach Perry seems very passionate and committed to the team,” and she believes he will help them improve tremendously.

Girls basketball is a highly supported and respected sport at the high school, and everyone is excited to see what Coach Perry will do with the team. His experience and highly regarded reputation as a coach provides comfort to everyone that the basketball team is in safe hands.

Coach Perry summed it up perfectly when saying that “the girls’ hoops team is ready to rock and roll.”