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Johnson has Lady Apaches thinking championship

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Blake Branch/Press-Herald

Nine days are all that separate the Glenbrook Lady Apaches from the start of their season.

The Lady Apaches will travel to Riverfield July 29 to compete in the annual Riverfield Tournament, with their first game pitting them against Porter’s Chapel Academy at 2:30 p.m.

There will be a new face calling the shots when Glenbrook takes the field, as Glenbrook hired Roo Johnson to take over the program in June.

“It’s so refreshing to be back coaching again,” Johnson said after the Lady Apaches’ Tuesday practice. “Especially at a place like Glenbrook. I feel like I’ve gone back in time, being here and being able to coach these girls the way it used to be. They’ve been a joy to work with. They’ve been listening really well and I can tell they’re coming into this season really hungry.”

The Lady Apaches have reason to be hungry.

They’re coming off a season in which they competed neck-and-neck for the district crown, and earned a postseason berth. The next step in that journey is a postseason run, and to do so they’ll rely on a young group of girls. However, Glenbrook does have a core group of veterans returning.

“I feel like we have some good leadership on this team,” Johnson said. “We have upperclassmen such as Megan Sims, Kate Marvin, Kara Bryce, even Aubrie Dickson. They’ve played a lot of games; I feel good about the leadership they provide.”

One of the challenges that comes with starting your season the last week of July is the sporadic coming and going of players due to things like summer leagues and vacations. Johnson said Tuesday she’s had a tough time getting her entire team together at once.

“I think it’s concerning,” Johnson said. “Just because we’re so close to playing and you need to put in all those little things that everyone needs to understand, as far as coverages, backups, cuts, signs and things like that. What I will say, is the girls who do miss come right back out and they jump in and learn. They’re quick to get back in it and understand what they need to do.”

Glenbrook will find out what they’re made of early on, as the Riverfield Tournament features many of the teams the Lady Apaches will see in their district slate. It’s also an early indicator of how the team will handle postseason style of play.

“Tournaments are good for a lot of reasons,” Johnson said. “There’s going to be a winner and a loser. Some tournaments in the LHSAA they just play a few games and they’re done. I want to put them out their in a competitive format. I’m ready to put our girls out there and see what we have.”

If the Lady Apaches are going to have any success this season, they’ll need to finish at, or near, the top of what’s been a strong district in recent years. But Johnson said she’s more concerned with what’s happening on her own team than others.

“I haven’t had a chance to scout the other teams, being so new on the job,” Johnson said. “Right now, I just want to focus on making my kids the best they can be.”

Johnson concluded Tuesday’s practice with by gathering the team and talking about championship qualities and what it takes to be a champion.

There is certainly championship potential among the Lady Apaches. Time will tell if Johnson can bring it out of them this season.

Regardless, less than one month in, Johnson said she couldn’t be happier with her decision to take over the program.

“I was driving up to practice today, and I was just like, ‘“God, I love my job,” Johnson said. “I’m so blessed to be here. I love these kids, parents, Coach Dalton and Mr. Gladney. I just feel like I fit in; I’m excited about it.”

Following the opening tournament weekend at Riverfield, Johnson and the Lady Apaches return home August 4 for their first home game against the Riverdale Academy Lady Rebels. The next day, Glenbrook will be home once again for a date with Central School, before traveling to Claiborne Academy for a round robin tournament Saturday, August 6.