Lyle-Pacelli girls basketball team has a family element
Published 11:04 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Whenever the Lyle-Pacelli girls basketball team takes the court, there is a small family reunion taking place.
LP’s assistant coaches Brad Walter and Carl Truckenmiller are brothers in law and they each have two daughters on the team — Courtney Walter and Brooke Walter and Madison Truckenmiller and Kendal Truckenmiller.
The family dynamic has been a challenge and a blessing for an LP team that will play in its first Class A state tournament against Mountain Iron-Buhl in Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis 5 p.m. Thursday.
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While Brad and Carl are strictly coaches to their daughters on game nights, they serve as supportive parents on most other nights.
“On nights when other people aren’t doing things, we were in the gym and rebounding for the kids while they’re shooting baskets,” Brad said. “You start to realize the amount of time it takes to be successful and the kids have put in a lot of time.”
Sometimes those shooting sessions were appreciated by the four cousins, and other times the girls would’ve preferred an evening on the couch, but there’s no doubt that they paid off. Courtney, a junior, and Madison, a senior, have both been playing for LP since they were seventh graders and Kendal and Brooke, who are freshmen, are in their third year with the varsity team.
Courtney said getting used to playing under her dad has been a process that is much easier now than it was when it was younger.
“It’s been challenging at times, but you get used to it after awhile,” she said. “It’s nice now, but it wasn’t too nice at the beginning. It’s a lot of fun now, especially with us four [cousins] together.”
Carl said that he’s had some yelling matches with his daughters when he is still in coach mode and they’re looking at him as a dad, but he said the basketball has helped him stay closer to his daughters for the most part.
“You’re trying to help them, but they’re looking at you as a dad,” Carl said. “A lot of times it’s hard to talk to your teenage daughter, but you have something in common and you can always talk basketball.”
Madison is thankful not just to be playing in the state tournament, but she’s glad to be able to do it with her younger sister, two of her cousins, her dad and her uncle as part of the team.
“It’s really special, because we could’ve missed out and not gotten to experience it together and we are,” she said. “Sometimes it feels unreal, but other times it’s like ‘we’re going to go there and it’s going to happen.’”
Brad began as LP’s head coach and back then the Athletics were a young team that was not very competitive. Although those years were hard for LP, Brad said they helped shape the team to what it is today.
“I think the beatings took really dictated the direction we were going to go in,” Brad said. “I think not every school would agree with what we’re doing or what we’ve done. We started playing seventh graders and eighth graders so we had more experience, and I think that made a difference in the [section] tournament.”
The biggest benefactors of those nightly shoot-arounds and those early LP games may have been Brooke and Kendal — who looked on from the sideline and learned whatever they could about the game. Brooke and Kendal still look up to their older sisters for guidance.
“We look up to those two girls and having our dads as our coaches who have high expectations for us as they continue to push us every single day,” Brooke said. “Getting us into the gym is something they’re good at.”
No matter what happens for LP, they will end their season at the state tournament this year and it will be the last time Carl gets to coach his older daughter Madison.
“This is where we wanted to be. We’re finally there and I’m getting a little teary eyed thinking about it,” Carl said. “For Madison this is her last hurrah and it’s the last time I’ll see her play basketball. But how great can that be? Your daughter gets to play at state.”