Gavin Cathcart got the job he wanted at Fairlawn High School. It just happened a little earlier than he expected.
Cathcart was recently named the new head girls basketball coach for the Lady Jets, replacing Randy Tyler, whose team finished with a 6-17 record a year ago.
“I have daughters that go to Fairlawn, and I coached junior high girls and junior high boys,” said Cathcart. “And I eventually wanted to be the head girls coach. I just didn’t expect it this soon.”
Cathcart has his work cut out. Fairlawn hasn’t had a winning record in girls basketball since the 2007-08 season. In addition, if practice started today, Cathcart would have no seniors and no juniors on the roster.
“We have 13 or 14 freshmen and sophomores right now,” Cathcart said.
The biggest name missing from possible upperclassmen is Audrey Francis, who will be a senior. She’s been a star the past three seasons, going over 1,000 points in her career last year and earning All-County first-team honors. She averaged an area-best 21.2 points per game along with 9.4 rebounds as a junior.
She had to undergo ACL surgery, however, and Cathcart said she may sit out the season so she doesn’t re-injure her knee.
“She has a scholarship for volleyball from Wheeling Jesuit (in West Virginia), and she’s considering not playing basketball this year,” Cathcart said. “If she decides to play, that will be great. But if nothing changes, we’ll probably be all freshmen and sophomores this season.”
Cathcart’s assistant coach is someone familiar to coaching circles, including at Fairlawn. Bill Shoffner, who was head baseball coach at the school at one time, will be Cathcart’s right-hand man.
“Billy and I know the expectations won’t be very high this season,” Cathcart said. “Right now, our priority is to get some kids to come out so we can have a JV team. And we also want to get the youth program going. They haven’t had much in that lately and we want to fix that.”
Cathcart played most of his high school career in the run-and-gun style of Tom Clark at Sidney before transferring to Anna for his senior season.
“We’re going to try to run, but not like coach Clark’s run and gun,” Cathcart said. “You have to have numbers to press and run like we want to, so we’ll have to wait and see. I actually coached these sophomores in the eighth grade and they played hard when we had our camp.
“I know the league is great and our non-league schedule is going to be pretty tough, too,” he added. “But this is the start of us trying to build a program.”