Assistant coaches help keep Lady Cats together

Clovis assistant coaches Regina Downing, left, and Dan Replogle have been a vital part of the Lady Wildcats success this season. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Rick White

Assistant coaches are expected to run practice, serve as a go-between for a testy coach and an upset player, and leave their egos at home.

Their suggestions are heard but not always used. They take the losses just as hard but rarely receive the glory.

They’re the invisible glue that keeps a team together.
Clovis girls head coach Miles Watters said the most important quality in an assistant is loyalty.

“We have a lot of trust in each other,” Watters said. “You want them to take ownership in the program and feel they’re part of the success.”

Watters said he spends so much time with assistants Dan Replogle and Regina Downing that they’re more like family than co-workers.

He said the relationship between head coach and assistants is a lot of give and take.

“Everybody brings something to the table,” Watters said. “I seek input from them all the time. I want them to speak up. I don’t always use their suggestions but I still want to hear them.”

In his second assistant stint with Watters, Replogle considers himself a basketball handyman.

“He knows I’m a hard worker and I’m willing to do anything,” said Replogle, who also puts to use his skills as a former school counselor, playing good cop to Watters’ bad cop, adding an even-handedness to his boss’ white-hot intensity.

“That’s part of my job is to talk to the kids and let them know it’s nothing personal,” he said.

Replogle, a physical education teacher at the high school, served three years with Watters during his highly successful career at Clayton (12 state titles).

He said he’s comfortable being an assistant and isn’t sure he’d like to be a head coach.

Downing, the head junior varsity coach, is more reserved but no less fiery than the rest of the staff.

“If the players come to me, I’m just as hard on them,” said Downing, who calls inbound plays during varsity games the staff worked on collectively.

But her primary responsibility is to get the younger players ready for the next level.

“You have to learn your role and learn what’s required of you,” she said. “It’s all about communication.”

She has a lot of time invested in this year’s team, with six of the Lady Wildcats having played for her on AAU teams.

“It’s great to watch them improve every year and get better,” said Downing, who works with a branch of the Clovis school system that deals with students that are discipline problems. “It’s good to see all that work I did with them is not in vain.”

During Saturday’s regional basketball game between Clovis and Los Lunas, Replogle and Downing will go about their job with little notice and less fanfare, secure only in the knowledge that they played a part in the Lady Wildcats’ success this season.