BY JEFF FALK
Jamie Walborn understands family. Its importance. Its priority. Its dynamic.
In Walborn’s world, family comes first. And immediate family comes ahead of extended family.
Somewhere over the last year, Walborn came to realize that her priorities had become just a bit askew – that too much of her time with her extended basketball family was being consumed at the expense of her immediate family,
Recently Walborn took steps to correct that equation when she stepped aside as the head coach of the Annville-Cleona girls’ basketball program. With her third child on the way, it became clear to Walborn that four years leading the Little Dutchmen was enough.
“It crossed my mind during the season,” said Walborn, who made her final decision a few weeks after the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. “It really came into my mind when I found out I was having a third child. It was difficult with two kids. I coached, I worked full-time and there were days when I didn’t see them (her children) very long. My intent was to give it one year with three kids.
“It was something I was thinking about at the end of the season,” added Walborn. “Something I went back and forth with. It came down to my daughter is now six and she’s getting to the age where she has activities at night. I can do those things off-season, but it’s very difficult during the season. I didn’t want to keep pushing her aside. It’s the kind of thing that it wasn’t an easy decision, but what made it easier was that it was the right decision.”
This past season, Annville-Cleona went 12-12 overall, finished second in Section Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, qualified for the circuit’s postseason and once again secured a berth in the District Three Class AA postseason. Modest accomplishments perhaps, but the way they set their expectations in Annville-Cleona these days, goals are attainable.
“I thought it was a successful season,” said Walborn, who starred for Lebanon Catholic during her playing days. “It was an up-and-down season, for a lot of reasons. It was an exhausting season. I thought overall, we did well. We didn’t go past the first round of districts, which was disappointing. Kayla Parks’ injury was devastating, but we rebounded well from it.
“I love it (coaching),” continued Walborn. “I’ve done it since I graduated from college. It’s going to be strange not to do it. But I don’t see myself not totally doing it. I love the practices, the teaching part of it. I like the summers. It’s almost like it hasn’t hit me yet, but I think I’m going to miss it.”
But Walborn’s work in Annville should not be judged by where the program is now, but from whence it came.
When she first took over the Little Dutchmen, the program struggled with participation and did not field a JV team. But now Annville-Cleona is a respectable Class AA club within the district.
“When we got here, the first year we had a JV team, and the second year we won nine games,” said Walborn. “It was a hard transition for me. I had never been a head coach before. I was totally new to the whole Annville thing, The second year we didn’t have a JV team and I had to build the interest up. I thought we did a good job. But it helps when you have athletes who buy into what you’re trying to do.
“I think it’s (the program) going in the right direction,” Walborn added. “There’s a lot of good kids coming back. I think it’ll be a young team next year. The junior high program had a lot of seventh- and eighth-graders, and they’re doing a lot in the off-season. And the youth program is run very well.”
Old school and traditional, Walborn envisioned giving more of herself than four years to the A-C program when she first took over. During that time, Walborn and the Little Dutchmen compiled an overall mark of 48-48.
“I would’ve thought I’d be there longer,” said Walborn. “But my family comes first. My intention was never to be there and go somewhere else.
“Yeah, I definitely enjoy the teaching the most,” Walborn added. “I like to see them (players) grow. Four years isn’t really that long. The group of seniors we had were freshmen when we started. When I think about them I look at each year and how they progressed.”
Walborn may be leaving, but she isn’t going far, at least emotionally. Seeing her on the bench coaching again is probably more a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if’.
“Yes, I’d definitely like to coach again,” said Walborn. “It depends on what my own kids get involved in. I don’t know when, but I’d like to get back into it. I know I don’t want to be away from it very long.
“It does make you feel young,” Walborn concluded. “With the girls at Annville, I had a really good experience there. I left for no other reason than to be with my own family. I’m going to miss the relationships. And they (her players) were always so good to my own kids. They loved my daughter.”