Chandler High School hired Mark Nold to be its new boys basketball coach after the team struggled last year, going 12-15 overall and 3-10 in its section.
Nold coached at Glendale Apollo, Gilbert Perry and Arizona College Prep, winning three state titles at Apollo.
The team has six returning members from last year’s squad and a slew of new players who hope to get the team back into the playoffs after a four-year absence.
Nold is determined to bring a new toughness to his team, realizing that talent doesn’t always mean everything.
“Defense, rebounding and toughness, because quite frankly there are going to be teams that are maybe a little more skilled at some positions out there,” Nold said. “We are skilled but if we bring a sense of pride and an attitude of defense every night, controlling the boards and just trying to be tougher both physically and mentally than our opponents., we’ll be OK.”
Nold said his experience with schools such as Apollo and Perry helped him solidify his teaching style, which stretches beyond the basketball court.
“I’m really big on making sure our guys are growing as young men,” Nold said. “My No. 1 job as coach is not necessarily X’s and O’s; it’s making them better men by the time they leave my hands and I take that job seriously.”
The new coach says that he expects the life lessons he teaches along the way will improve the players on the court as well as off of it.
“We do a lot of things off the court to build that chemistry and you know we’ll probably do a little extra this year because I’m new to them and they’re new to me,” Nold said. “But Chandler hasn’t been to the state playoffs since 2009 so that’s our No. 1 goal: Just fight, scratch and claw anyway we can to the state playoffs and see what we can do when we get there.”
Nold says that the team is definitely a different one from the team that had a disappointing finish. He points out that one of the things that this team has going for it is its overall depth on the roster. Most notably, junior guard Bryce Perkins, who is better known as the Wolves’ star quarterback, has joined the team and in just two games is averaging a double-double.
Perkins will be expected to be a big contributor once he and the other four football players who joined the team get a few more practices under their belts.
“We’ll just have to implement them as best we can as far as when we can use them,” Nold said.
The Wolves will have a tough road ahead playing in one the toughest sections in the state with teams such as Chandler Hamilton, Tempe Corona del Sol, Gilbert, Gilbert Highland and Gilbert Perry.
“It starts this week with our sectional opener against a very good team in Desert Ridge. That’s definitely a game we’re looking to get a head start on our section by getting a home victory,” Nold said.