Niles hires Foster as girls hoops coach

Doug Foster knows the state of the Niles McKinley girls basketball team.

He wants to change that perception.

Tonight, pending Niles Board of Education approval, Foster, a 1983 Niles graduate, will be the new girls basketball coach. He would take over for Erica Wilson, who served two seasons with the Red Dragons. Last year’s team was 4-19.

Foster takes over a girls program that has had more than its share of setbacks over the last decade, which includes a 53-game losing streak a couple of years ago.

“When I was a high school kid in the early 1980s, we had a great program, great kids. Even in the mid 90s girls played pretty well,” Foster said. “It’s been the last seven to 10 years where they’re getting beat 88-11. That crap has got to stop. The main reason I’m coming back to Niles is they need someone there who’s willing to make that commitment, not that other people didn’t. I’m a Niles person and I believe I can make a difference in these young ladies lives as basketball players and as student athletes.”

Foster spent the previous two years as the Champion boys basketball coach. The Golden Flashes were 3-20 last season.

Prior to that, he spent 16 years as an assistant to his father-in-law, Don Andres, at Niles, Reynolds (Pa.) and Howland.

“Sixteen years is hard to pass up,” Niles athletic director Marc Fritz said.

This is his first girls coaching position.

“Basketball is basketball,” Foster, 48, said. “I’m not going to go out there and change who I am. Obviously I’m not going to talk to them as I have with the boys, verbally and how you have to deal with their emotions and stuff like that. I can handle that. I have a daughter myself. I know what they go through.

“I really don’t believe that’s going to be a difference.”

Foster said his top priority is going to build up the younger grades to ensure a stronger varsity team.

“That’s the number-one goal,” Foster said. “You have to start young and build a program. The lower levels have intramural basketball. I’d like to make that grow a little bit more. I’d like to get a ninth-grade program going, too. We got girls that come from eighth grade and they get thrown right into the fire.

“I know we haven’t had one there for several years.”

Niles football and boys basketball have built their youth programs.

“In any program, you have to build a program and that’s from the lower levels up,” Fritz said. “We’re actually doing that in football and boys basketball with coach (Brian) Shaner and coach (Ron) Price. Starting at the young levels and building off of that is a key point of all of our athletic teams.”

For Foster, his key is to put a winning team on the floor.

“I’ve always been a defensive-minded guy,” he said. “The main thing is to get these girls back the tradition of Niles – learn how to win, teaching them to believe in themselves and some pride. We have the new school. It’s time to start a new tradition now.

“We’ve been down so long in the girls program, I’d like to get them back on their feet again and hopefully make a difference in their lives as players and student-athletes.”