A familiar face has returned to the Geneseo basketball court as Nicki (Sellon) Stoops has taken the reins of the freshman girls’ basketball team.

A familiar face has returned to the Geneseo basketball court as Nicki (Sellon) Stoops has taken the reins of the freshman girls’ basketball team.

Stoops, a 2001 J.D. Darnall High School graduate and four-year member of the Lady Leaf basketball team, recently moved back to Geneseo from Bloomington and was interested in getting into coaching.

“I knew moving back to a small community I wanted to be involved in the community and basketball is something I have always loved,” said Stoops. “So I contacted my high school coach Bob Pettit about any openings.

“Being a part of a team is exciting and it is fun to be back at my high school. The community is supportive along with the coaches.”

Even though Stoops and her team didn’t start practice for the season until Oct. 29, she was able to get to know her team in the offseason at summer camp, games and open gyms.

“We have 14 girls, so we have plenty of players, and it is going well,” she said. “It might be too early to tell about expectations, but this summer the girls played really well.”

Since Stoops is in her first coaching position it has been a learning process for her and the girls.

“As a coach, I am already learning a lot from my assistant coach, Megan Ernst. She is bringing a lot to the table,” she said. “It has been a smooth transition and, as a team, I hope to work on the fundamentals with the girls and push the ball up and down the court.”

Stoops said coaching is something she always wanted to get into because she enjoys the competition, the fast pace of the game and her experience at Geneseo is what made her want to get into coaching.

She also said she does get to implement her own ideas as coach, but has structure for the program that shows the girls what will be expected of them as they move on.

“Offensively and defensively, we are consistent throughout the program, but with the freshmen it is really about working on the fundamentals,” she said.

Coach Stoops views one of her strengths as a coach as her passion for the sport.

“It makes a difference (having a passion for the sport) and remembering how the coaches in the past were,” said Stoops. “I carry that over to how I coach my girls. Having strong coaches in the past helped me.”

A challenge for Stoops this season is being a new coach and not having a lot of experience, but she said coach Ernst has been a huge asset.

“Over the summer when we had camp broke me in and our three games helped, too,” she said. “It is not as intimidating now.”

As for goals for her first season, Stoops said she would like to see the girls improve on their free throws because that will help the team win games. She also would like to beat Moline.

“The biggest thing is for them to work hard, play hard and we will have fun,” she said.

The freshmen girls open the season at 6 p.m. Nov. 26 against Dixon at the Geneseo High School main gym.

“I am looking forward to seeing how well the girls play together again,” she said. “Getting the first game in will give me a good feel for how the girls play.”