Now is in her ninth season overseeing the Redskins, who are presently in a three-year stretch that includes two regional titles and 63 wins, McCain checks in ahead of Class 2A regional play:
Did you see this sort of dominant run transpiring before it began?
That’s always hard to tell. People ask me that every year, and even going back to my first couple years we lost some key players in Brittin Boyer and Emily Neuhauser when they graduated. It took us a couple years to rebuild and get some of those younger kids ready. And same thing (this season) — we lost Esther Miller and Josie Orris last year, and that’s kind of tough to replace. But we have a program where in the last couple years we’ve only had 12, 13 players out for our entire program. I always tell people those kids are going to get a lot of playing time. They’re going to be playing one, possibly two games a night. ... That always helps build our program a little quicker.
Despite Thursday’s loss at Tuscola, dropping the team to 21-6, how would you assess this season thus far?
I told my girls a long time ago ... that they had exceeded all my expectations as of this year. You never know going into the season what to expect. You always hope for a 20-plus (win) season, but I wasn’t sure with our schedule, and as far as our talent, how many teams we’d be able to beat. Those 3A schools like the Mattoons, the Mt. Zions, you never really know. ... I was just so proud of them and what they’d accomplished so far.Your team has a difficult schedule, with good Class 2A and 3A opponents.
Why do you choose to schedule this way?
Especially over the last couple years, we’ve tried to balance our schedule out so we’re playing a bit tougher schedule. It’s tough when you’re locked into a conference because you only have so many nonconference games you can schedule. ... My goal is to try and get some of those nonconference games to be a bit more challenging for us. That’s where you get the Mt. Zions, the Mattoons. Next year we’re going to play Paris in our regular season. We’re playing Newton next year, and I think we’re playing Salem next year.
You have a two seniors this year. Have there been any underclassman surprises?
I’m always looking for those underclassmen and what they can do. They step in, and a lot of times here lately, they’ve given us a few minutes when we’ve needed them. ... The other night, Avery (Still) got hurt in the conference championship, so I looked for Skyla Palmer to come in as a sophomore. She gave us a couple good minutes defensively. Alaina Moore as a freshman has come in and helped us here and there.
How would you rate this team among all of the teams in your Sullivan coaching career?
It’s tough. ... This year, not having as much depth, I would rate them probably top three because they’ve been able to do things maybe I didn’t think they’d be able to do with not as much depth sitting on the bench. But they’ve proved me wrong, so I’m happy about that.Though your team hosts a 2A regional, you have top-ranked Paris in your bracket. What are the expectations for this tournament?We are hoping and anticipating we can get past that (semifinal) round and get a chance to play Paris on our home floor. I told the girls (Tuesday) night that there isn’t anybody in the state who believes we can beat Paris except for us. What better team to be a Cinderella team than us?