Consistency is the key Annawan program


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Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2013, 8:54 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com
ANNAWAN -- When he joined the Annawan girls' basketball coaching staff five years ago, Jason Burkiewicz encountered a program that held a No. 1 state ranking for the first time ever.

As he ascended from assistant to head coach, the consistency remained.

Burkiewicz remembers how good the program was when he first started, something he acknowledged during the Bravettes' welcome-home celebration of their Class 1A third-place 30-3 team on Sunday afternoon. In recent seasons, the small-town program has consistently competed with the state's best in Class 1A.

How is that possible?

"It's just the excitement that is created," Burkiewicz said. "The little kids see it. Then, they go home and pick up a ball."

A member of Spring Valley Hall's 1998 Class A state runner-up team, Burkiewicz said the town was captivated by that run and spurred interest in the program. Annawan has won back-to-back sectional titles and the program's first-ever state trophy, which obviously sparks interest in the elementary schools.

What is unique about this run is the process it took for it to happen. The current junior class that features four starters began working toward the postseason success when they were in third grade.

Since that started, Annawan has committed to maintaining a solid feeder system.

"We never neglect our lower levels," Burkiewicz said.

The community would not let that happen, which is why the team made sure to thank its supporters for this stretch of success.

"When these girls talk about the community and parents, it all stems from that," said Annawan assistant Val (Wancket) VanHyfte, who coached the eighth-grade team for seven years. "We ask a lot. ... The parents got on board and we did everything extra."

Strong coaches also help the development. VanHyfte, a 2,000-pointer scorer and all-stater at now-defunct Atkinson, and sophomore coach Caitlyn Corwin are two of the pieces to the puzzle.

"It's hard to find good people who really know what to teach at the lower levels," Burkiewicz said. "The girls were that much ahead when they got to high school. That's been a huge lift for me as a coach and the program as a whole."

Another key component in this cycle is lineage and depth. Burkiewicz jokes about replacing one player one season with her sister the next, a regular occurrence in recent years. On top of that, Annawan can develop a whole team since these kids have played together for years.

A perfect is example is the Bravettes winning the super-sectional with all-state center Celina VanHyfte hampered by a severe ankle sprain.

"You can't win a conference championship or sectional without support," Val VanHyfte said. "That's why it was proven that other people step up big."

All that leads to a run that should be strong for several more years.

"I'm looking as far down as seventh grade right now and I see enough talent to be competitive," Burkiewicz said. "We're going to have talent for a long time. It's a matter of continuing to play as a team and staying together."


















 



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  Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Col. H.F. Sickless informs us that there will be new organization of troops in this state under the call for more men.
1889 -- 125 years ago: James Normoyle arrived home after graduating from West Point with honors in the class of 1889. He was to report to Fort Brady, Mich., as second lieutenant in the 23rd Infantry.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia. Germany and Austria refused an invitation of Sir Edward Grey to join Great Britain at a mediation conference.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Dr. William Mayo, the last of the three famous Mayo brother surgeons, died at the age of 78.
1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the biggest horse shows of the season was held yesterday at Hillandale Arena on Knoxville Road under the sponsorship of the Illowa Horsemen's Club.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Davenport is like a gigantic carnival this weekend with the Bix Arts Fest taking over 12 square blocks of the downtown area. A festive atmosphere prevailed Friday as thousands of people turned out to sample what the Arts Fest has to offer.








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