North Caroline High named Rick Weber its girls’ head basketball coach Thursday, Sept. 24.
Weber spent four years coaching basketball at North Caroline, spending time with both boys’ and girls’ programs. He worked with the girls’ program for three seasons, and was junior varsity head coach the last two. He replaces Mark Potter, who stepped away as girls’ head coach after last season. Potter remains North Caroline’s head baseball coach.
“(I’m) looking forward to this,” Weber said. “I’ve been waiting for this. I didn’t expect coach Potter to step aside this soon. But hey, I’m ready and really looking forward to it. We’ve got a good group of girls.”
North Caroline promoted Weber on the same day the school promoted assistant boys’ basketball coach B.J. Miller to boys’ head coach. Athletic director Nash Ireland said it was important for both hires to get someone already connected to the program.
Ireland lauded Weber’s ability to teach the game, and said he has a good rapport with the girls.
“I hope that this isn’t misconstrued, but he’s like a dad to them,” Potter said. “I don’t mean that in a negative connotation. They respond to him. He wants to win. And like all good coaches, it’s more than just about winning. And I think he’s gonna make them work hard. But I think he just has the ability to connect with the girls.”
Weber, 67, is originally from Minnesota. He started coaching after he finished college, coaching boys’ and girls’ basketball while also officiating high school basketball and college basketball and football. He officiated for 17 years.
His job then took him to Seattle, where he worked with youth programs for the Seattle Seahawks organization. He coached high school football and basketball in Seattle as well.
Weber came to the Eastern Shore in 2000 when he became Assistant Director of Caroline County Recreation & Parks. He wanted to keep coaching, but it didn’t work out due to his work schedule. But after he retired in 2015, he made his return. Former North Caroline boys’ head basketball coach Steve Perry reached out, and Weber began coaching in Ridgely.
Weber said his style of basketball is up-tempo and fast-paced, and he believes defense is just as important as offense. He finds more nuance in coaching the girls’ game than the boys’.
Ireland said Weber was a fit for the Bulldogs not only because of his coaching ability on the court, but also for his off-the-court impact.
“He stresses learning the game of basketball, but he also finds it very important to teach life skills and being a big member of that community,” Ireland said. “He recognizes the importance of that and teaching kids about success in life, not just success on the basketball court. We’re looking forward to having him on. He’s also someone who has put in a lot of time that I think is very well-deserving and excited to be the head of a program.”
Over the past few seasons, North Bayside girls’ basketball has been dominated by Easton, Queen Anne’s and Kent Island. Weber said he respects the work those programs put in to succeed, and knows it will take hard work to reach that level. But he thinks this season’s Bulldogs could surprise people. North Caroline brings two-time All-North Bayside first-team selection Kandice Thomas back for her senior year, and many players whom Weber coached on JV will join the varsity.
Potter said the key for Weber to take North Caroline to that level is to field a team of devoted girls.
“You’ve got to find girls that are committed to offseason work,” Potter said. “Girls who want to put in the time and the effort to not only learn basketball fundamentals, but learn basketball game. And while I think (Weber) relates to the girls so well, and he’s connected to families because of his former job of Parks and Rec, I think he will have the ability to get girls to play. And if he can get the athletes to play and the ones that will commit at least to once a week playing basketball in the summer, then they’re gonna be pretty decent. They’ll be able to compete.”
Weber’s short-term goal is to simply build upon what the program already has. Long-term, he wants the Bulldogs to compete for Bayside and state championships.
“I really believe that this program can go to the next level. They really can,” Weber said. “I think now it’s just a matter of instilling some passion into the girls and getting them to believe and buy into the program that we can take this next step. And that’s what I’m really hoping for, especially with the young ones that are coming up. I’m going to push some of the other underclassmen and the seniors to show the leadership.”
The COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of uncertainty with high school sports. Caroline County announced its plan Wednesday, to stick with the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s two-semester plan in which condensed sports seasons would begin with winter sports on Feb. 1, 2021. Winter sports would be able to start practicing on Jan. 4.
Even with that in place, the pandemic’s unpredictability leaves unknowns about how things could change.
Ireland doesn’t see it as a disadvantage for a new coach, however, because all coaches are dealing with the same circumstances. Weber said starting during a pandemic will be a challenge.
“I don’t know if it’s if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Weber said. “Just because I haven’t had any contact with any girls over the summer. Now it looks like things are going to get pushed out until after the first of the year, not being able to get in someplace to just talk with them. And I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge. I don’t know if it’s a disadvantage. I guess it would be, but I think it’s definitely a challenge.”
Follow me on Twitter @SethTow. Follow us on Instagram @StarDem_Sports.