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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

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Coach Pena and Donaldson Step up as Head Coaches

Photo+by+Matias+Mena+on+Unsplash%0A++
Photo by Matias Mena on Unsplash

Throughout the offseason, Lynbrook basketball has seen some changes take place in the coaching departments, with both teams having new head coaches heading into the 2023 season. 

 Former boys’ basketball coach Jamie Adams resigned from the position following a 13-8 season that earned the Owls the twelve seed in the playoffs. However, their playoff run would be short lived as No. 21 Roosevelt upset the Owls in the first round, 47-38. 

On the girls’ side, the team fell short of a perfect ending in coach Stephen LoCicero’s final year at LHS. The team finished 14-2 (earning them the two seed) and carried a 7-game win streak into the playoffs, losing in the Nassau Class A final to No. 1 Manhasset.

 Lynbrook would go ahead and fill these vacancies with two assistant coaches who helped their predecessors in the year before. Physical education teacher Brian Donaldson stepped in on the boys’ side, as social studies teacher Koren Pena took on the role as the girls’ head coach for the 2023 season.

 Donaldson, who coached the JV boys’ basketball team the past few seasons, is honored to be in the position. “It is especially meaningful that [this position] is at Lynbrook because I am a proud alumni and have previously coached or taught many of these guys.” Donaldson will head into the season well prepared with all the necessary prior knowledge thanks to his previous head coaches. “Coach Adams and Kevin Monaghan have fostered my preparation in scouting and knowing the opponents’ every strength and weakness.” 

 Before filling in for Adams, Donaldson learned a lot from his past, going as far back as his time with Bethpage and coach Jack Davenport. “At Bethpage, I had the opportunity to learn how Coach Davenport can seamlessly adapt to his players’ strengths and build an identity from year to year that creates a successful team.”

Senior Tim Mingo has high expectations for Donaldson’s first year: “We’ve always had that goal of playing in Hofstra and bringing home that country championship.” The second-year varsity player will also look to help the team reach that playoff success they are looking for. “I’m surrounded by a bunch of hard workers, so seeing that makes me want to go harder and help these guys,” he said.

 Donaldson will look to lead the team to its first playoff win in five years. “We know if we develop an identity of making ‘winning’ plays, we are going to be competitive every game.” The departure of the Class of 2023 took 10 players from the Owls, and the team will be looking for players to step up to fill those empty spots. “This team is a great shooting team that plays unselfishly, and if we stay disciplined and understand that the game is as simple as taking great shots and forcing your opponent to take bad shots, we will be in good shape,” Donaldson added.

 For the girls, Pena stepped up to the role after former social studies teacher Stephen LoCicero’s retirement last June. When asked about what it means to fill LoCicero’s spot, Pena said she plans to use what she learned while helping LoCicero: “I’m looking forward to keeping that winning culture and message of ‘family’ alive. It means a lot to me to step into this role. They are big shoes to fill, but I’m excited!”

 Pena started playing basketball in 7th grade and has loved it since. She won back-to-back Long Island Championships at Island Trees High School, and throughout her playing career she coached multiple youth teams. After graduating from Queens College, she continued her coaching journey at LHS in 2003 until starting a family, causing coaching to take a back seat until LoCicero took over the program in 2012. “I’m so grateful for those years that I coached alongside him. He is a dear friend and I especially miss him during this time of year!” said Pena.

 “Coaching with [LoCicero] over the years will always be one of the most rewarding experiences of my time here at LHS,” Pena added. Junior and third-year varsity player Brooke Mazzei is looking forward to playing under Pena in 2023: “[Pena] is not a new face, and she knows us and knows what Lynbrook basketball is about. Because of how successful these past two years have been, we only hope to continue that success this year with a championship, and I have no doubt that we will do amazing things this year.”

Pena has big expectations for her first year but has no doubt that they will be reached. “Getting to the playoffs is goal number one for sure. We have some exceptional athletes and incredibly talented players who are returning from last year’s run to the County Finals. I believe their experience playing in big games will be extremely beneficial to our success this year,” she said.

 The girls’ team lost three players from the Class of 2023 who were particularly important to last year’s success, but the 10 returning players will try to replicate last season and get even further. “The returning girls, along with the new additions, are ready to fight our way back to Hofstra,” junior and third-year varsity player Cate Jennings said. “This is the year for us to come out and prove that although we’re a different team, we aren’t any worse than we were, but better,” Mazzei added. 

 

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About the Contributor
Sean Strohofer, Managing Editor
My name is Sean, and I am a member of the Class of 2025. I have a deep desire for sports and writing, so you might see me at sports events around town!