(Cover photo: Holy Cross girls’ basketball new head coach Olivia Moore. Credit: Christine Jacobs)
Olivia Moore is getting a chance most young coaches can only dream of.
Moore is a 2010 Holy Cross graduate who played basketball and softball. She returned to the school in the fall of 2014 as a college counselor and assistant girls’ basketball coach.
Cougar athletic director Jody Thornsberry announced earlier this month that Moore, an assistant coach for the past two seasons, will be the new head girls’ basketball coach.
“No, I didn’t expect this,” Moore said. “I felt like it was just an honor to come back and be an assistant. Not a lot of people get to do that either. Holy Cross is really dear to me and has done so much for me. It means a lot to have the opportunity. I knew that I wanted to eventually be a head coach but I knew it was going to be a process. I didn’t expect this to happen so soon and I’m happy to be in this role.”
After Holy Cross, Moore continued her athletic career at Brescia University in Owensboro. In the fall of 2014, she joined then head basketball coach Fred Copass as an assistant. Moore played at the power forward and center position for Copass during her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons.
Copass was let go at the end of Moore’s first season and Chris Jefferson took over and retained Moore.
“Being under both of them, they both have two completely different styles,” Moore said. “I was able to grab different things under each one. Copass was very focused on fundamentals and development while CJ brought a newer view and fast paced, more defensive aspect. I’m hoping to take different things from each one of them and apply it to what I’ve learned. I was taught in college that defense is first. You get your momentum from your defense.”
Jefferson was the head coach for one season and left when he accepted the same job at Oldham County.
In just two seasons of coaching, Moore has gotten to coach with two vastly different personalities. Copass often coached from the bench and wasn’t much of a talker outside of the huddle, Jefferson was always roaming the sidelines and could be heard throughout the gym.
“I don’t sit,” Moore said. “The girls joke and say they’re glad I have a fit-bit because it counts all of my steps as I pace the sidelines. They’ll say ‘you’re getting your steps in today coach.’ I was never comfortable on the bench when I was playing; I always wanted to be up and in the game. Every coach has their own style but I feel like I lose that connection and in game intensity when I’m sitting. I like to talk to the girls who are on the floor, I like to talk to the girls who are on the bench and I like to talk to my assistant coaches. I’m a bit like Chris with the intensity but I’m not a big screamer.”
Moore takes over a team that hasn’t been to the All “A” Classic State Tournament since 2014 and missed the Sixth Region Tournament last year for the first time since 2005.
The coach knows how important the All “A” Classic is to the Dixie Highway Catholic school because she played in the small school state tournament three times and made it to the state title game as a senior where they lost to Newport Central Catholic.
As Moore looks to take Holy Cross back to the All “A”, she will need help as the Cougars lose star Olivia Morabito, who averaged 18.5 points per game and hit 55 three-pointers as a senior. Brooke Blackwell, Shayla Weppler, and Brooke Shields have also graduated.
“Those four seniors are going to be so hard to replace,” Moore said. “They brought so much to the team; they were four starters and had so much experience. But, the four juniors and seniors assuming that everyone comes back were on my first JV team. I’ve seen them develop and grow up together. Our JV team ran a lot and we scored a lot of points in transition because we were quicker than most teams. They’re all really tight with each other and good friends. The chemistry is going to be really good.”
Beth Newton, Kalie Reed, Halle Snyder, Madison Turner, Lauren Schraut, and Gabrielle Vasquez are some of Moore’s top returnees.
With the exception of Newton, the Cougars will be small unlike last year when Blackwell and Morabito had enough height to help Newton on the boards.
Practices don’t start for another three months and the season won’t begin for another four months, but Moore has some goals in mind.
“I just want us to compete,” Moore said. “I’m very hopeful, but I’m realistic. We aren’t going to come out and win a KHSAA state championship right out the gate. But the ultimate goal is to compete and have a sense of pride and let people know Holy Cross is out there and can beat you.”