Roach hopes to bring coaching stability to Westville
With six coaches in the span of seven years, Westville could be best served in installing a revolving door on the girls basketball office.
Newly-hired Grayce Roach hopes to stop the carousel.
"I'm really looking forward to building up the program," Roach said. "They've never had someone permanent. I'd like to make it a more permanent thing. Hobart and a lot of other places have had some really devoted coaches and I'd like to get Westville like that. I feel like it's hard to ask kids for discipline and commitment if they don't see it on the other end."
The Hobart and IU Northwest graduate was hired as a Physical Education/Health teacher at Westville in February. At that point, the coaching position was up in the air, based on what John Marshall decided to do.
"They told me there might be a coaching opportunity, depending on whether the other coach wanted to continue or not, they just wanted to finish up with the spring to see what happened," Roach said. "I would've probably asked to be a part of it if he had continued, but I'm really excited to have the head coach title."
Marshall, who jumped in at the last minute just before last season, decided to step down from basketball, though he will remain as a teacher and boys golf coach.
"We already had Grayce in mind, but we wanted to give John time to think about it, then COVID shut us down," Athletics Director Drew Eubank said. "I have a ton of respect for (former Hobart coach) Mike Hamacher. I started watching Grayce play as a sophomore. She has a strong personality. I think she'll be a perfect fit all the way around."
Roach has some connections, both direct and indirect, to Westville. She played volleyball at Hobart for Eubank's wife Justine, who was a varsity assistant, and her boyfriend, former Michigan City basketball player Luke Daurer, is the Blackhawks' boys freshman coach.
"When I graduated, I wanted to get my Masters in Public Administration because I eventually want to be an A.D.," Roach said. "Drew will be a good mentor. I've always been a really good student in high school and college, but I never really had a set plan until later in college. Nothing was destined, I never felt like I was meant to be somewhere, but I come from a family of teachers so I continued with education. I like working with kids, being a part of a group and help them rise to do good things. It's fulfilling to see them be successful."
After being a key part of a successful Hobart run, Roach went on to IUN, where she was an NAIA third-team All-American as a senior. The 5-foot-8 guard put up 14.3 points, 4.7 assists (top 10 nationally), 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game for the RedHawks, who set a school record for wins (27) and reached their first Sweet 16 in the national tournament. Roach finished her career ranked third in scoring (1,854), first in assists (436), second in 3-point field goals (220) and tied for first in starts (128).
"Not only is she an elite athlete and player, but most impressive was her leadership and character and her commitment to her academics throughout her outstanding career," IUN coach Ryan Shelton said in a March 14, 2019 media release. "She is a prototypical competitor and student-athlete in every sense of the definition and sets the standard high for what all student-athletes should aspire to be."
Roach, 24, returned to IUN as a graduate assistant last season, getting her first taste of coaching.
"I've had some diverse coaches so I was able to see some different perspectives in the way they coached," she said. "I'll take what I like and also what I think was missing. I think I can connect with them on a personal level. I want them to know that, but I'm a stern coach. I'm not going to be taken advantage of because I'm younger. I can be their friend when they graduate."
Westville assistant Ashley Spurr will remain as the JV coach and Marshall will also be around should Roach need his input.
"John's a nice resource to have for Grayce to talk to, to help her along," Eubank said. "Ashley already knows the girls. She's been a bridge the last couple years."
Westville was 15-7 last season, but graduated three starters among six seniors. Leading scorer Grace Weston (11.8 ppg) returns along with Ashley Hannon (6.0 ppg).
"I chatted with Ashley and she told me about the girls," Roach said. "I'm looking forward to setting up practice to meet them for the first time. I don't want our first encounter to be a Zoom meeting."