Windham – When one thinks of Windham Basketball they immediately think of Marty Hill and the years of success the district has had in the sport. No one ever considers the girls’ team and now is the time one might want consider them too. The girls’ team has struggled as of late but the tide seems to be turning for the team this year and one of the reasons just might be the talents of two sisters, Caitlyn and Jessica Isler. The duo is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the county division of the Portage Trail Conference as they continue to show improvement each week and give opposing teams a run for their money. In addition to the pair heating up the court, the team’s coach is drawing some attention as well. Coach Gregg Isler is not only the coach, he is the duo’s dad and is also the superintendent of the school district.
Caitlyn, the elder of the two is in the final chapter of her high school career while Jessica is just opening the book. Each girl brings different elements to the court that help balance out the team. Caitlyn plays point guard and is definitely the team leader. Often she can be seen reiterating her coach’s instructions to her teammates as they execute the plays. She averages nearly 13 points a game and her ability to read plays shows as she steals the ball and breaks up plays, making her something of a defensive nightmare for opposing teams.
Jessica is in her rookie season on the varsity team and is definitely starting to make her mark in the basketball world. She averages 17 points a game; works well with others and is definitely a team player. She handles the ball well and is dangerous if left open at the three point arc. She is also quick and not afraid to shoot or pass, depending on the situation. Jessica will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in years to come as a Windham player.
The third part of the triad is Windham’s coach, Gregg Isler. He has coached the girl’s team at Windham for four years and has 24 years of coaching experience. Gregg is not only the coach, he is the girls’ dad and the superintendent of the school district. He was asked how hard is it to switch the proverbial hat from superintendent to coach and then to dad. He responded that the superintendent hat doesn’t really play into it since he rarely has any interaction with his daughters during the school day, however going from coach to dad and vice versa is challenging. Gregg says he tries to keep what happens on the court, on the court. He stated that he and his wife Brenda work together in making sure the basketball issues do not spill over to their home life and they keep home life at home and off the court.
Isler said coaching his daughter has been fun. It has strengthened his relationship with the girls and the girls seem to enjoy it as well. One thing I did notice was the quiet, gentle person one sees at the helm of the school district is not same personality one will see on the court. His passion and emotion for the game comes out as he guides his team during the game. His commands are more demanding and forceful than one would find at a board meeting but then work and the girls respond to his directions.
I asked the girls how it was playing for their dad. Caitlyn said it was ok and fun. She also said the down side of it is that they are always together and at times it seems a little much, but for the most part it works well. Caitlyn said sometimes practice issues are hard to leave on the court because at times she does get frustrated and struggles separating the coach from the dad but all in all it works well and she has enjoyed playing for her dad. Jessica, a more laid back gal, answered that playing for dad was ok. Both girls balance school work, friends and basketball well. They can be seen hanging with their friends at school events and squeezing in homework where ever they can. Jessica says she does a lot of homework on the bus going to and from games. Both girls are honor roll students and play multiple sports for Windham. Caitlyn said although she likes basketball her passion is softball while Jessica was reluctant to name a favorite sport.
Both girls are competitive, but in a healthy way. They feed off each others successes and work hard to strengthen their weaknesses which are what makes them great players. I asked them if they ever settled their differences on the court and they both said they didn’t. I also asked if they have ever had issues with dad/coach that they settled on the court and again they said no. They pretty much said that they try to live with the motto “what happens on the court stays on the court.” That is how they are able to keep their competiveness separate from their personal lives.
The girls are at opposite ends of their high school careers Jessica’s is just beginning while Caitlyn’s is ending, so when I asked Jessica about career plans she stated she has yet to decide her career path. I wasn’t too surprised by her answer. Caitlyn, on the other hand, knows what she wants to do. She has plans to attend Ohio State University next year and major in exercise science with the ultimate goal of being a physical therapist. When asked if she was planning to play sports in college she said she initially thought she would but has recently changed her mind and plans to focus on academics.
Gregg Isler said that this year is his best season as a coach. They have a winning record and are jelling as a team. Besides the winning record, he feels blest to have the opportunity to coach both his daughters on the same team. He is definitely enjoying the ride. He said this year is somewhat bittersweet as he watches Caitlyn close the doors on her high school career and Jessica open the door to hers. He will miss Caitlyn as a player but he is excited for her to start the next chapter of her life. His future plans are simple, continue to coach, stay at the helm of the school and enjoy watching his younger daughter, Jessica, find her place in the basketball world while seeing Caitlyn find her place in the college world.