By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Pawnee will look to one man to lead the girls’ athletic programs as Chad Tsotigh was named softball and girls basketball coach at a board meeting on June 4.
“I feel pretty good,” Tsotigh said. “They are a good group of girls and that was one of the reasons I put my name in. They are the hardest working girls I’ve seen. They have good attitudes and can play some ball.”
Last year, Tsotigh was an assistant coach with the football team and girls basketball team and was head coach of the track team, which he will continue to do. He said it’s a good deal, getting to coach the girls all season.
“It was something the administration was thinking about doing — having one voice for the program,” Tsotigh said. “I can encourage involvement in athletics. I can get a couple girls to try softball that hadn’t. I get a couple girls from softball to play basketball. Hopefully get a few more for track. I only had 12 girls last year.”
Tsotigh replaces Mike Brock in softball and was told the future for the program is bright.
“Brock told them this is a sleeper group,” Tsotigh said. “They have improved pitching and have several positions that can hit well. They have the chance to be a really good team.”
In basketball, Tsotigh replaces Jeff Tatum, who was relieved of his coaching duties in April amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Tsotigh said he wanted to help the team heal.
“Regardless of what the administration did (regarding Tatum), I wasn’t looking for any other opportunities,” Tsotigh said. “I felt it was the right thing for me to do to stick it out with these girls. They already lost one coach.”
Tsotigh said the girls were excited when they found out he was named coach, adding they have a lot of enthusiasm.
“We went to a summer league game last week and the girls’ spirits were good,” Tsotigh said. “They need to get some basketball skill stuff down but they had a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Those are things that go unseen as far as a successful program goes.”
The Lady Black Bears return several players from last season’s team that made it to the area round of the Class 2A state playoffs, including Natalie Jensen, who averaged 11.8 points, four rebounds, three assists and 1.3 steals per game. Tsotigh said they will run things pretty much the same.
“We’ll stick with what we did well last year on offense and defense,” Tsotigh said. “The senior class is strong and we got some young kids that are developing.”
Pawnee returns most of its track team, including state qualifiers Jaidan Alley (sprints), Kamille Ellis (hurdles and long jump), Jaelyn Jestes (shot put) and Hannah Heisler (hurdles).