First impressions are important.
A positive vibe can lead to some good things. A negative vibe, well, you know.
For Nick Vukovich, his first meeting with parents as head coach of the Galion High School girls basketball program definitely left him with a positive vibe.
“You can tell a lot about the kids just by the way the parents were today,” Vukovich said. “The parents are very supportive. The parents got the kids here, which shows the parents want their kids to be successful. I got a very good feeling from the meeting.”
Vukovich, whose hiring was approved by the Galion City School District board of education on June 16, comes to Galion after two seasons as head coach at Ridgemont High School in Hardin County. He said he believes his biggest challenge early on will be building a bond of trust with the team.
“I have to be able to establish myself, get them to understand why we do the things we do and buy into it,” he said. “Hopefully, the success comes from that. They see it and then we build off that.”
New Galion athletic director Kyle Baughn appears to have already bought into Vukovich.
“I’m really excited about Nicholas Vukovich,” Baughn said. “My gut says he’s what we need right now. I hope I’m right. I think if people give him a chance, they’ll be pleased.”
Vukovich’s first meeting with the Lady Tigers was June 23. The new coach said he’s been pleased with the attendance at workouts during his first week on the job.
“We’ve been averaging about 12 kids a day for the two times last week,” he said. “Today, we have 19, so the numbers are starting to get bigger, which is good. We’re starting to see a lot of the same kids come in all the time, and some new kids showed up today, which is good. It’s a good feeling.”
During the parents meeting on Monday, Vukovich took time to lay out his philosophy and approach to the game.
“I told them I’m very defensive-oriented,” he said. “Our defense will lead to our offense. I like to run. I like to have up-tempo, get the ball out, get it down the floor. So if the players understand we do the little things right on defense, we get a steal, deflection or defensive rebound and get the ball out quick, I want to be gone. That’s the style I want to play.”
One of his top priorities is helping the Lady Tigers improve their ball-handling skills and cut down on turnovers. Galion committed 544 turnovers in 2014-15, an average of nearly 25 per game.
“I told the kids if you want to be a ball handler, you need to be in here as much as you can,” he said. “We’re going to be working on a lot of different ball-handling drills, get some tools — tennis balls, dribbling goggles — little things like that that’s going to make them feel more comfortable. In all honesty, I’d like to see our turnovers drop down to 15 or 16 a game. That would be phenomenal for the first year.”
Vukovich said the Lady Tigers will be extremely busy in July between OHSAA-allowed coaching days, open gym sessions and shoot-arounds. Galion is also scheduled to attend a team camp at Adrian College in Michigan. While it’s a relatively short period of time for him as a new coach, Vukovich hopes his players will pick up his system and philosophy in quick fashion.
“I feel it’s enough time to start hitting some of the little things right now,” he said. “If I can establish some of the little things first and then work on the bigger things as the offseason progresses, I think that would be a big win for us right now. I’ve talked to a few coaches in the area that I know about bringing our teams together to play a little bit and get out of our comfort zone.”
Galion is scheduled to open the 2015-16 season on Nov. 20 with a home game against Mount Gilead. The Lady Tigers travel to Crestline on Nov. 21 and visit Highland on Nov. 24. The Mid Ohio Athletic Conference season begins on Nov. 27 with a home game against Buckeye Valley.