Gateway: Sports

Having turned around one program, new girls basketball coach hopes to take PHS to next level

New Peninsula High School girls hoops coach Mike Schick talks to players at his previous coaching stop in Sammamish, where he helped revitalize the program.
New Peninsula High School girls hoops coach Mike Schick talks to players at his previous coaching stop in Sammamish, where he helped revitalize the program. Courtesy

When new Peninsula High School girls basketball coach Mike Schick joined the coaching staff of the girls basketball team at Sammamish High School five years ago, the school had lost 110 league games in a row.

One hundred ten. That’s not a typo.

“They hadn’t won a league game in over 10 years,” Schick said. “It was kind of crazy.”

Playing in the 2A/3A KingCo league, Sammamish broke the streak on Jan. 9, 2013, with a 46-41 overtime win over Interlake. Schick was an assistant then. When the head coach stepped down midseason, he took over the program.

Schick would wind up taking the Totems from the laughingstock of the KingCo to a Class 2A state tournament team. Sammamish took seventh in state that year.

“It took a lot of work and effort to change the mindset,” Schick said. “It was a school that wasn’t big on winning, didn’t have high expectations. Other teams would just show up and win. It was more than x’s and o’s; it was trying to change the whole mindset. You have to show up and expect to win. We made some leaps and bounds.”

Schick was working in Bellevue at the time, and commuting from his home in Puyallup. With his wife expecting their third child last March, he stepped down from the Sammamish job to spend more time with his family. After taking a job with PenMet Parks in Gig Harbor, Schick went for the Peninsula job when he saw it open.

“I had to ask my wife — the big boss — first,” Schick said with a laugh.

She gave him the thumbs up.

“It was just meant to be, I think,” Schick said.

Schick grew up in Puyallup and graduated from Puyallup High School in 2002. He played basketball at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia for two years before transferring to Central Washington University to finish his degree.

Then Schick, 33, caught the coaching bug. Now he’s settling in at Peninsula.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “The summer was kind of a whirlwind. The girls were accepting of it, excited for a new era and the parents were open and encouraging. We had a good summer, good fall and it led right into the season now.”

Schick said he’s excited about the talent on the team.

“Obviously, (junior) Belle Frazier is quite an athlete,” Schick said. “She’s definitely one I knew I could put pieces around to be successful. She won’t do everything for us. We want to take some of the burden off of her this year.”

Schick said the community’s support from the program was a big deal for him when deciding to apply for the job.

“I knew of their feeder program — that’s a big deal for me,” he said. “Starting with the youth, just letting them have a ball in their hand, is a big deal. They get great support from the community. (Athletic director) Ross Filkins is great. There’s just a lot of good pieces on the team.”

Expect Schick to take some elements from playing in the KingCo league — a fast, aggressive brand of basketball.

“It’s up-in-your-face, pressure defense, running fast breaks for a full 32 minutes,” Schick said. “I tell the girls that we’re going to be intense and in your face for 32 minutes. We’re going to play with extreme respect for our opponents. We’ll have a lot of speed, man to man, pressing, excitement. It’ll be fun to watch. The girls are working their tails off. They’re going to be in the best shape of their lives. It’s all about a hard work ethic and endurance.”

He won’t have to pull off nearly as big a program turnaround as he did at Sammamish. Under Shane Patrick, Peninsula posted a 16-8 record lsat season. At this point, Peninsula is already a solid, winning program with some exciting talent.

“Peninsula has all the tools,” Schick said. “They just need someone to orchestrate.”