Linden — In recent seasons, life on the Linden varsity girls basketball team has been challenging.
The Eagles haven’t won a Metro League game since the 2014-15 season and roster numbers have been low.
However, Zachary Darling hopes to change that as he begins his first year as the Linden varsity girls basketball team this winter.
“Our number one goal is to change the culture of Linden girls basketball,” Darling said. “We have been saying this to the girls since day one, and have kind of adopted it as a motto. The last handful of seasons have not been pleasant for the Linden girls basketball program and we look to change that. We want to bring excitement back to the program and get girls to want to come out for the teams and want to play basketball. We don’t want Linden girls basketball to be a joke, so to speak, any more.”
The Eagles will be trying to make these changes with a young program. So far, Darling says his varsity roster will consist of more freshmen (three) than seniors (two). The rest of the players will be sophomores and juniors. Darling says there is some young talent on the JV program and that the middle school teams are looking solid as well.
“Clearly we are a very young team and this is something we are excited about,” Darling said. “Not just for this season, but for the future of Linden girls basketball.”
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Darling has always wanted to coach at the varsity level.
“The first thing that excited me about the girls varsity position coming open was it was a varsity basketball coaching position at the school I teach at,” Darling said. “It has always been one of my dreams to teach high school and coach varsity basketball at the school I teach at. I was super-excited because this was a chance for me to live out one of my dreams. Another thing that excites me about the position is I would have the opportunity to coach a lot of young talent. Being a teacher and coach at Linden, I get to see a lot of different sporting events. From what I had seen, the girls have young talent, and especially in basketball. Since that is my favorite sport to play and coach, it made me very excited to apply and hopefully get the opportunity.”
Darling said he’s been pleased with the girls in the program so far. He’s seen many of the players in a summer camp, open gyms and now tryouts.
“I have really liked the attitude the girls have,” Darling said. “They have showed up always ready to work with positive attitudes and the willingness to listen and buy in to the changes happening with the Linden girls program.
“The only thing that really has surprised me is how quickly the girls have come together as a team with not having that much interaction with one another. It is clear they want to work together, to win and to change the culture of Linden girls basketball.”