TURNER — Before any of the girls on Crosshill Christian’s basketball team had met their new head coach, they already knew one of his famous sayings:
“Ice is nice, but motion is the potion,” was the line for which Trever Ball was famous.
The line dates back to Ball’s decade or so as an athletic trainer at Salem-Keizer Public Schools and followed him to his first head coaching position at the Class 1A private school south of Salem.
“Coming into it, that’s all we knew is he had some crazy ways of explaining how to get things done and he had a famous saying,” senior Hannah Schanz said.
But in his first basketball head coaching position, Ball has already had a positive impact.
After going 7-9 in the Casco League and 8-13 overall last season in his first year – nearly making the district playoffs – Crosshill Christian is 2-0 in the Casco League and 4-2 overall thus far this season, including a No. 12 spot in the OSAA’s power rankings, and is on the proper trajectory.
But the joke is inevitable.
Does Crosshill Christian’s girls basketball team need an athletic trainer at any of its games?
“Honestly it’s funny because the role I play, I have to step out of so much going, it’s probably this, this, this,” said Ball, who now is Behavioral Specialist at Judson Middle School. “It’s really not my job now.
“The hardest part is at a smaller school [is that] you don’t have those other people to fit those roles so you have to fit them. I’m trying to find time to instruct, to motivate and then kind of prep them for things. It’s been fascinating.”
Athletic trainers don’t become head coaches, at least not often.
But the same manner which Ball used to help athletes when they were at their worst points after injuries is the same manner which he uses to guide Crosshill Christian’s players now.
“He’s just a really nice guy,” said senior Sarah Stoddard, a first-team all-league player last year. “You don’t feel bad when you make a mistake. He teaches you. It’s not a if you mess up, you’re going to get pulled out. He tells us, you’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to build off of them. That’s how you make yourself better.
“He loves us, too, which is nice. You really know that he likes us, he’s not doing it just for the job or just for money or anything. You get that feeling and it makes you want to work for him. It makes you want to do well for him.”
Crosshill Christian first tried to field a girls basketball team in 2012-13 and predictably went 1-20.
In the 2013-14 season, the team struggled with numbers – the team had six players including this year’s three seniors – and improved to 3-11 in the Casco League and 5-15 overall.
“It was one of the most fun seasons, though, even though we didn’t do so well,” senior Haley Foster said.
But the next season, Stoddard transferred to South Salem – where she would play on the Saxons’ 6A state championship team – and with only two players in Foster and Schanz, the school had to drop the program.
That same season Ball took an assistant coaching position for Crosshill Christian’s boys basketball team under head coach Tyler Lute, who formerly worked with Ball for about a decade at McKay.
When the girls needed a head coach last fall, Ball was a natural selection.
“What’s really cool is we were building a program and he came in and he knew that,” Schanz said. “What’s so cool is he sets expectations for us like this is what I want and he sets them really high.
“I want you guys to make it to Baker, which is so cool because it shows us that our coach completely has confidence that we could do it.”
There’s still a lot of individual skill work that has to be done by the coaching staff.
Players don’t come into the program with years of basketball experience, so putting in things like a trapping full-court defense are secondary to teaching things like dribbling and passing.
Ball’s only previous head coaching experience was the 2010 season as McKay’s head boys golf coach.
But he says that coaching his son in youth basketball the past few years came in handy in terms of skill building and the basics of getting parents involved in the process.
“As far as team coaching is concerned, it’s just being a part of programs athletic training-wise. I got very blessed,” Ball said. “Being around Jay (Minyard), being around Jack (Martino), honestly even being around Chris Lee over at North, I was there for three years, four years, seeing guys like that run a program is really what I started with here.
“The hardest part was thinking at it from the opposite perspective, having no experience anywhere, from parents to kids and really developing that like a youth program.”
It helps greatly that Ball added a couple knowledgeable assistant coaches to the program in his father, Ken, and Jeff Estabrook.
Ken Ball retired from his position as Philomath’s principal last summer and Estabrook formerly was athletic director and a coach at Triad and coached basketball at the college level.
To develop Crosshill Christian’s team into a program, Ball has taken steps like getting the players to play in summer league games and practice the game out of season.
“The hardest part is building a program, getting them to think basketball minded. Let’s not take both vacations, five days over Thanksgiving and then 10 days over Christmas,” Ball said.
“We’ve got some games there, we’ve got some things. This is the first year we’ll actually play in some tournaments.”
But he has to resist the urge to bring bags of ice to games.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler