Anna O’Dell, who coached the Olivet girls’ basketball team to a Class C Final Four appearance in 2005, is returning to the position that she held from 2004-2008.
The Olivet Community Schools’ Board of Education approved the hiring of O’Dell at its Monday night meeting. O’Dell will replace Rob Fleming, who resigned last month after nine successful seasons at the helm.
O’Dell, 36, is no stranger to Olivet High School or its athletic programs. She graduated from OHS in 1998 and has been an English teacher with the district since 2003. In addition to posting a 79-19 record in four seasons as Olivet’s varsity girls’ basketball coach, she also coached varsity softball for a year and assisted the varsity boys’ basketball team for three seasons.
“I am very excited to return to coaching,” O’Dell said. “I grew up in this basketball program and was fortunate to begin my coaching career here with my former coach, Coach (Ivan) Sheets.
“I’ve had some great basketball mentors and some even better basketball memories, and I’m grateful to carry on the tradition at Olivet High School,” she added. “I am thankful to Coach Fleming and his staff for their commitment to OHS girls in the last nine years. I’m up to the challenge of continuing the success that Olivet is so accustomed to.”
O’Dell’s initial tasks will include meeting with players, assembling a coaching staff and organizing a summer program.
When asked what the school and community should expect when watching her teams play, she mentioned multiple defenses, aggressive players and an inside-out offensive approach.
“Depending on the personnel of the team, our strengths and weaknesses, and our opponents, I think fans can expect to see a combination of full and half-court man and zone defenses,” O’Dell explained. “I hope to have scrappy guards and rebound-thirsty bigs. Offensively, I’d like to promote up-tempo ball movement to shift the defense for a high-percentage shot.
“I love pounding the ball inside to bigs, but if that gets shut down, I also love an unselfish big who will kick it back out for a triple,” she added.
O’Dell’s head coaching resume not only features a .806 winning percentage, it also includes three league championships, four district titles and one regional crown. Her 2005 squad posted a 24-3 record en route to the state semifinals.
However, when O’Dell talks about what defines success in her program, she has a much greater vision than just win-loss records and championships.
“In the lower levels, I would consider numbers and participation and a high level of fun a success,” she said. “In the junior high, success would look like individuals gaining skills and an understanding of game strategy. At any level, but particularly the varsity and junior varsity teams, competing in every game would be a success. If we could put ourselves in a position to exploit the opponents’ weaknesses with our strengths, we are likely to be successful.”
O’Dell’s squad is scheduled to open the 2017-18 season on Tuesday, November 28 at home against Parma Western.