New coaches, new styles, new attitudes; who are these coaches? What should Puyallup expect?
“We’ll do our job no matter if we have people in the stands or not,” new girls varsity basketball coach Cherokee Ainslie said.
Along with being the new girls basketball team, coach Ainslie is an AVID and sophomore English teacher. In the past seven years Ainslie coached the girls junior varsity basketball team at Bellarmine Preparatory School (BPS) in Tacoma.
Ainslie graduated from BPS and played volleyball, basketball and fastpitch when she was a student. Her brother and father also coach there.
“There was a family aspect,”Ainslie said. “I was definitely anxious and excited [to coach at Puyallup] but it was also hard to leave Bellarmine.”
She has also been the assistant coach of Puyallup’s volleyball, girls’ basketball and fastpitch teams for the past three years.
“She’s young and enthusiastic and it’s her first head coaching position. She’s excited and that excitement spreads like wildfire,” Athletic Director Lisa Muiznieks said.
This August Ainslie was offered the position of the girls’ varsity coach which she accepted enthusiastically.
“The coaches I had [inspired me to become a coach]. They were strong women. I knew my days of playing weren’t going to be long but I loved the sport,” Ainslie said. “I loved being around it, getting excited about it, watching good games and I wanted to be able to fuel that fire in young woman athletes.”
Teaching and coaching are not all that Ainslie participates in. She loves riding her four-wheeler and spending time with her friends. Since basketball and teaching take up a lot of her time, Ainslie values her free time.
“When I’m able to have time with friends and family, it’s perfect,” Ainslie said.
Ainslie explained that her expectations are to reinforce and maybe even reignite the passion for girls basketball again. She loves the sport and wants that same kind of attitude; not only for the game but for the knowledge of the game too.
Meanwhile in the upper gym, there’s a new leader in charge of the wrestling team.
Aaron Lee became a part of the coaching staff three years ago. The past couple of years he coached the girls team. However, he became in charge of the whole wrestling program this year and is the head coach for the boys team. This is his first year of being the head coach of the whole wrestling program and he has expectations he’d like to successfully pan out.
“I want [the team] to understand the sport and appreciate all the aspects it brings to your life. The self-discipline, the motivation, hard work, the work ethic: all those characteristics that build a champion,” Lee said.
This is Lee’s fourteenth year of being a wrestling coach. He has coached at Edgemont Junior High for three years as an assistant and Ferrucci Junior High as a head coach.
Lee’s longest coaching was at Cascade Middle School, located in Auburn.He is a Special Education teacher there but hopes to transfer to work here.
In 1995 Lee graduated from PHS. He was a wrestler for the school but due to unfortunate injuries, he didn’t finish his season the way he wanted to.
“When you want to coach at [your high school] I think that really says a lot about how much you care about the program and the sport that you love,” Muiznieks said.
Lee feels that he’s at a level where he can help kids succeed in the sport.
“When you have a passion and are excited about something, it’s contagious and kids [are attracted] to you. They see my passion; if I’m not doing that then I’m not doing my job,” Lee said.
Lee began coaching when he was 21. Since that time, he’s coached over 30 teams in fastpitch, soccer, basketball,track, baseball and wrestling. Most were middle school teams but he also coaches his younger children’s teams.
Dedication and time are the two topics Lee stresses to his players.
“The only thing that’s equal for everybody in every sport is time. Everybody has the same exact time,” Lee said. “Someone might be bigger, someone might be stronger, smarter, doesn’t matter. We all have the same time, it’s how you choose to use your time that makes the difference.”
When Lee was a kid the stands at wrestling tournaments used to be full. He wishes to fill the stands and added it would be great to get the whole school excited for wrestling again.
Two faces are new to Puyallup’s gym but they’re coaches with a passion of their sport. Ainslie and Lee hope to leave successful legacies in Puyallup High School’s history.