After learning the X's and O's of coaching under two of the top girls basketball coaches in Southern Illinois, Bethany McQuiston is ready to put all that knowledge to good use.
An assistant coach at Nashville High School for seven years and at Freeburg this past season, McQuiston has been hired as the new Midgets girls basketball coach. McQuiston, 30, takes over for Lori Crunk, who resigned following the 2017-18 season.
A 2006 graduate of Mascoutah High School, where she played for longtime coach Terry Moeller and was a three-sport athlete, McQuiston takes over one of the top programs in the Cahokia Conference. Freeburg finished 21-7 this season and advanced to the Class 3A regional-title game, where it lost to conference rival Central.
And now after spending eight years learning from Crunk and Nashville's Wayne Harre, McQuiston is ready to run her own program.
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"I'm excited and really energized. I'm excited to get going this summer and start working on some things," McQuiston said. "I'm excited about the kids we have coming back and I really like what Coach Crunk established for the program here. It fits what I would want in a program.
"Definitely, I'm a little nervous at first and I'm sure I'll be nervous the third week of November when we play our first game. There is a lot of work to go before that, but we will be prepared and we will play hard."
An assistant at Nashville when the Hornettes won the Class 2A state championship in 2013, McQuiston worked with Harre on a daily basis during the season for seven years. Then after moving to Freeburg, she had the opportunity to work with Crunk.
"I've been really lucky," McQuiston said. "To have the opportunity to sit on the bench and watch Coach Harre and learn from him for seven years, and then this season with Lori. When I came over to Freeburg, she talked to me and asked if I was interested in coaching. Just like with Wayne, I learned so much about coaching from her.
"With both of them, it's not just about running a practice or playing the games. It's about running a successful basketball program. That's what I want to continue to maintain and build upon here at Freeburg."
McQuiston must replace three starters and several role players in her first season. The Midgets return post player Colleen Cockrell and shooting guard Lily Oliver.
As for her coaching style, McQuiston will stress playing good defense and taking care of the basketball.
"The goal is to keep developing the program," she said. "I want our players to be successful and to enjoy playing high school basketball. And I want our younger girls to see that. I want the younger kids to start coming to games and I want them to be excited to come to watch Freeburg basketball. If we can get them involved at an early age, then they will want to be part of something once they get to high school."