Calling the shots

George Wash­ing­ton’s Kathy Paul, who coaches the Eagles’ varsity field hockey, bowl­ing and soft­ball teams, is bring­ing her ex­pert­ise to the bas­ket­ball court.

It only took two years for Kathy Paul to have an im­pact on George Wash­ing­ton High School’s ath­let­ic pro­gram. 

Now she’s run­ning the show. 

In ad­di­tion to teach­ing health and phys­ic­al edu­ca­tion at Wash­ing­ton High, Paul coaches the varsity field hockey, bowl­ing and soft­ball teams. 

This winter, she’s adding one more. 

Paul was named head coach of the girls varsity bas­ket­ball team, tak­ing over for long­time boss Mar­vin Carter, who re­tired last year. 

“I can truly say that since I’ve been here, bowl­ing, field hockey, soft­ball, now bas­ket­ball … it’s been great,” said Paul, a North­east nat­ive and gradu­ate of North­east High School. “I’m really glad I’m here. Coach­ing is the best part of my day. To see them do the things that we worked on in prac­tice and to see them do it in a game situ­ation, it’s re­ward­ing.” 

Paul will in­her­it a bas­ket­ball team that went just 3-10 over­all last year. She has only two re­turn­ing four-year play­ers. Twelve oth­er play­ers have nev­er com­peted for an or­gan­ized bas­ket­ball pro­gram be­fore. 

“Right now we’re just young and in­ex­per­i­enced. But I see a lot of im­prove­ment every day,” said Paul. “We don’t have the lux­ury of hav­ing JV bas­ket­ball, so I have a lot of first-year play­ers.”

Al­though this is her first high school coach­ing gig on the hard­wood, Paul has more than 20 years of ex­per­i­ence ment­or­ing at the middle-school level. 

After gradu­at­ing from Penn State Uni­versity with a de­gree in ex­er­cise and sports sci­ence in 1989, Paul began her teach­ing ca­reer as a sub­sti­tute. She was of­fi­cially hired by the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia in 1991. At the same time, she began coach­ing field hockey at Ce­dar­brook Middle School in Chel­ten­ham, where she called the shots for the next 10 years. 

She also scored coach­ing stints at Wilson Middle School — Paul coached field hockey and boys soc­cer — and the John Paul Jones Middle School, where she coached soft­ball. 

“Ever since I’ve been teach­ing, I’ve been coach­ing,” said Paul. “Of course I want my teams to win, but I want them to learn to work as a team, to learn sports­man­ship. 

“It’s all about hav­ing fun,” she con­tin­ued. “I’ve played sports since I was six. I’ve al­ways had good coaches. I try to be a pos­it­ive role mod­el for them. Set a good ex­ample. No ex­cuses. Do your best, play your best, and give it your all.” 

A 1985 North­east High School gradu­ate, Paul played for the Vik­ings’ field hockey, bas­ket­ball and soft­ball teams. She con­tin­ued to play for soft­ball teams un­til her late 20s.

ldquo;I still use some of the drills we did way back then,” Paul ex­plained. “They still work. All the things they in­stilled in me, I in­still in my kids. Sports keep you mo­tiv­ated. It got me to where I am today.” 

In the fall, her first year as the field hockey coach, Paul guided the Eagles to a Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship ap­pear­ance but they lost to her alma ma­ter, North­east High School, with 58 seconds left in the game. 

“Field hockey was great, be­cause I feel like field hockey was a sport where I could come in and work strategies,” Paul ex­plained. “I wasn’t teach­ing ba­sic skills. These were ex­per­i­enced play­ers who knew the game. 

“I thought I’d be com­ing in­to high school and the kids would have the ba­sic skills, but that’s not al­ways the case,” she con­tin­ued. “We have a lot of new bas­ket­ball play­ers this year, so we’ll have to go back to fun­da­ment­als.”

Paul says she has such high hopes for build­ing the bas­ket­ball pro­gram that she wants to stay with the Eagles as long as pos­sible. 

“When the op­por­tun­ity was presen­ted at George Wash­ing­ton, I knew I wanted to coach here,” she said. “I love it here. As long as the po­s­i­tion is here, I’m here. I hope to re­tire at Wash­ing­ton.” •• 

Ed­it­or Melissa Yerkov can be reached at my­

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