Girls basketball coach Dan Harrison is the coach of the month.
The Panthers lived up to the hype once again and made it to the Class 6A state championship, tied a school record by going 23-2, while also finishing and undefeated in the AVCTL I for the fifth year in a row.
That wasn’t the end of the Panthers’ accomplishments as a team as they won their seventh straight sub-state championship and set a new school record with defense, holding teams to 29.6 points per game.
All of this was done with Harrison, in his first year as head coach.
Harrison has coached for 34 years and has been at Derby for the last four years, three as an assistant.
“The teams I have enjoyed the most have embodied the concept of ‘We over Me,’” Harrison said. “When a team says ‘we just want to win and we don’t worry about who is going to score the most points’ and actually goes out and backs it up with their play on the court, it is really special. This was one of those special teams.”
With Harrison already in the program, the culture that previous head coach Jodie Karsak created was already set. Harrison said that he introduced a new offseason schedule in which the players were able to take some important time off after a hard summer allowed them to “recover from summer and recharge their emotional batteries.”
Harrison also added weekly pool workouts, as well as a lot of core stability which is preventative when it comes to injuries, a skill that Harrison used with his college teams in the past.
Addy Brown and Maryn Archer, both Division I commits, were the focal points for teams in 2020-21. But with the new offense that Harrison introduced, which is “positionless” basketball, helped open up much more for the whole team.
“This forces teams to try to guard our players in several places on the floor and also gets everyone to move the ball, move themselves and thus move the defense,” Harrison said.
Despite the loss in the state championship game to a tough Washburn Rural opponent, the only opponent to beat them all year, it is deeper than basketball for Harrison.
“My role as a coach is to help them to reach out to become the best version of themselves both on and off the court,” Harrison said.