Who's the boss of the Lakeside High School girl's basketball team?
The answer depends on who you ask.
Randy Hill says Drew Shelton is head coach of the Lady Panthers. Hill is athletic director at Lakeside, so Shelton must be the leader of the Lady Panthers.
But if you ask the Lakeside players, they'll say the team has two head coaches, neither of whom is Shelton.
The definitive - yet somewhat ambiguous - response from Shelton might clear up the matter.
Shelton says he's the head coach in theory, but for all intents and purposes Scott Resseguie and Frank Fidler are the true head coaches this basketball season.
"The way it is now, they do the coaching and I'm the figurehead," Shelton admits. "I don't have any problem with it at all. The players have accepted it. They haven't had any complaints to me about it."
Resseguie and Fidler are community coaches, and they are lending their expertise out of necessity.
At a Lakeside soccer game last spring, Resseguie asked the school's booster club president Harry Revell, "How is the girls basketball team going to be next season?"
Revell responded, "I don't know. Right now we don't have a coach."
After leading the Lady Panthers to their best record in school history last season, Bill Richey was through coaching the basketball team.
"Bill Richey decided to keep his job at Lakeside, but he wasn't going to work with the girls anymore," Resseguie said. "Lakeside didn't have any teaching slots open, and there really wasn't anybody that wanted to coach the girl's basketball team."
Community coaches are not uncommon in high school athletics, but the situation normally occurs in one of the secondary sports, such as swimming or soccer.
Basketball, though, is one of the big three prep sports, with football and baseball. That makes the current arrangement at Lakeside a bit unusual.
"They needed a coach," Resseguie explained. "Frank and I made an agreement with Lakeside principal Jeff Carney to let us come in and work directly with the girls and not have to go through a staff member to make the decisions."
The Columbia County Board of Education has a rule that a head coach of a high school team must be employed by the school system. That's where Shelton comes in.
While Resseguie and Fidler had agreed to coach the basketball team, and over the summer they attended the sessions required by the Georgia High School Association to act as community coaches, county rules say a staff member has to be "head coach."
Shelton, a longtime coach at Lakeside, was it. He takes care of organizational matters, such as paperwork, eligibility, travel forms for road trips, and fund-raising.
"Scott and Frank run the practices and the games, and I take care of the logistical stuff," Shelton said. "I'm always at practice and games. By rule, I have to be."
Resseguie and Fidler run the show, with Shelton providing some input. So far, things seem to be working out for the Lady Panthers.
"Coach Resseguie and Coach Fidler both know what they're talking about," Lakeside senior guard Jamie Lake said. "Coach Shelton puts in some words too. Coach Resseguie has pretty much run everything, as far as plays, and Coach Shelton makes sure we're comfortable and ready to play. I think it's fine what they're doing."
That doesn't mean there aren't some drawbacks of seeing your primary coaches on a limited basis.
"It makes it hard to build a relationship, because they're not at school every day," Lake said. "Sometimes we don't know what our practice schedules are, and we have to find that out."
There's also the inherent difference between a community coach and someone who makes a career out of coaching, but Resseguie believes he and Fidler are as driven by success as anyone.
"I don't think there's any doubt," Resseguie said. "We're both competitive, and we both have coached for years in the recreation department and with all-star teams. We've played a lot of sports. We both know a little bit about what we're doing."
Resseguie and Fidler have some solid players to work with this season, including experienced seniors Lake, Ansley Evans and Kim Leeds.
The key for any coach is getting the most out of the players, and that is a goal shared by the two community coaches at Lakeside.
"We certainly want them to play good defense, and we want them to run the court when the opportunity presents itself," Resseguie said. "We want them to play fundamentally sound basketball, which is a real challenge for us to teach."
The Lady Panthers have done fairly well through the early stages of the 2003-04 campaign, but the squad suffered a setback in the Columbia County Christmas Tournament, where Greenbrier outplayed Lakeside to take the title.
That defeat to a county rival may explain why Resseguie wasn't quite sure if he is satisfied with where the team stands heading into the new year.
"Yes and no," he said. "We're not as far along as I thought we would be at this point of the season, but we're fairly close."
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