Lisa Gedaka selected girls' coach of year

Posted: March 16, 2013

In 24 years of coaching girls' basketball at Gloucester Catholic, Lisa Gedaka has faced her share of challenges.

That she is about a season away from approaching the 500-win total shows she has more than met the demands.

There were new challenges this season, and that meant different goals to conquer. The Rams, which annually knocks at that South Jersey top-10 door, entered the season with modest expectations.

Even the coach wasn't sure how this one would shake out. Then there was the additional challenge of coaching her daughter, 6-foot freshman Mary Gedaka.

As it turns out, mom and daughter did just fine and the team fared just as well.

On a team with two freshmen and a transfer playing prominent roles, Lisa Gedaka blended it all together, and what chemistry there was.

The Rams went 26-3, won the Tri-County Conference Diamond Division title, and earned a berth in the South Jersey Non-Public A final before losing to eventual state champion Red Bank Catholic, 46-41.

Of the three losses, two were to state champs, with Group 4 champion Rancocas Valley being the other. In addition, the Rams beat eventual South Jersey Group 4 champion Washington Township in going unbeaten in conference play.

So it's no surprise that Gedaka is The Inquirer's South Jersey Coach of the Year in girls' basketball. The only surprise, at least from the coach's perspective, is how quickly this all jelled.

"I never thought we would have the year we did," Gedaka said.

She should have known better.

Nobody should ever underestimate Gloucester Catholic girls' basketball with Gedaka involved. She was one of the all-time great players at the school, scoring more than 2,000 points and winning three state titles.

And after a stellar career at Villanova, she has long been regarded as one of South Jersey's best basketball coaches, regardless of gender.

Gedaka has always been able to X and O with the best of them, but her ability to get players to buy into the team concept is truly special.

"This year's team was a pleasure to watch with the way they moved the ball, played good defense, and were so unselfish," said Gloucester Catholic athletic director Pat Murphy, a former successful boys' basketball coach at the school.

"They did it the right way, like an old-school kind of team."

Gedaka concedes there was some trepidation in coaching her daughter, but the situation was made easier by the fact that the younger Gedaka was a force as a freshman.

"It was fantastic coaching her," Lisa Gedaka said.

Of course, in coaching, there are always sacrifices made, and there was one regret in the mother-daughter coaching dynamic.

"The negative is I never got to watch her as a parent," Gedaka said. "I couldn't do that because it wouldn't be fair to the team."

Gedaka incorporated her daughter and freshman point guard Maggie McIntyre into the lineup in addition to junior Becky Pund, a St. John Vianney transfer. And to be successful required the veteran players embracing the new ones, even though some playing time would be lost.

"I give our upperclassmen a lot of credit," Gedaka said. "They had a great attitude and welcomed the newcomers."

It was up to the coach to make it all work. And while she was mildly surprised, nobody else should be. There is a reason she is among the best coaches in South Jersey history, and this season's success only amplifies that point once again.

Contact Marc Narducci at Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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