Weekly Feature



2017-03-30 / Sports

Amherst’s Chatelle tabbed Girls Coach of the Year

All-Bee Basketball
TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Sports Reporter


All-Bee Girls Coach of the Year Mike Chatelle stands with All-Bee Girls Player of the Year Claire Wanzer after she broke the Amherst career scoring record against Sweet Home Jan. 31. Chatelle led the Lady Tigers to a Class A sectional championship. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com All-Bee Girls Coach of the Year Mike Chatelle stands with All-Bee Girls Player of the Year Claire Wanzer after she broke the Amherst career scoring record against Sweet Home Jan. 31. Chatelle led the Lady Tigers to a Class A sectional championship. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Mike Chatelle has seen a lot while coaching basketball. The 26-year coaching veteran coached the Amherst boys team for 18 years before taking over the girls’ team eight years ago.

But this year stood out among more than a quarter century of coaching. Chatelle and the Lady Tigers won a sectional title and advanced as far as the Far West Regional. It was the furthest the team has made it during Chatelle’s tenure.

The Lady Tigers went 11-2 in ECIC II play, finishing second in the division. They opened the postseason with a blowout, 70-19, win over Lew-Port. They advanced to Buffalo State on the strength of a 56-53 win over Lake Shore. Amherst then defeated Olean, 70-50, in the Class A2 Final, winning its first sectional title since 2010. The Lady Tigers weren’t done yet, defeating Williamsville, 63-47, in the Class A Overall Final. The season ended with a 61-55 loss to Pitt-Mendon in the Far West Regional.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have a team that was intelligent enough to make changes on the fly,” Chatelle said “This year, we were able to make some changes and tweaks.”

Part of the reason the team was so successful this season was buying into Chatelle’s coaching philosophy. He believes players have to develop their fundamentals to be prepared for moments when plays break down and the game becomes complicated.

“I think players need to work on skills and be basketball players,” Chatelle said. “At some point we can diagram a play and walk through it and sometimes it’s not going to work. There’s going to be times when you’re going to be a basketball player and you’re going to need to know how to get open and make the right pass. There are going to be options that may be taken away. At a certain point, you can’t just freeze up, you have to rely on the skills you’ve been working on in the off-season and the fundamentals you’ve been working on to get you through.”

According to Chatelle, there were four keys that factored into this being such a special year for Amherst. The first is the hardworking nature of the girls on this team and the dedication of their parents.

“The girls took advantage of the opportunity to come during open gyms, to come play in summer leagues, to play in AAUs and work with other coaches and trainers,” Chatelle said. “The parents valued the team and made sure their daughters took the opportunities they had whether that was getting them to practice or getting them in the weight room.”

Additionally, the coaching staff has been hugely important to the program’s success. From the varsity assistants to JV to modified to camps for elementary school girls, there is a system in place to make sure the girls are well-prepared once they reach the varsity level.

“Our coaching staff was also huge for us,” Chatelle said. “My assistant, Heather Radder, came on last year, and she has made a huge difference for the girls, especially in the post play. Our JV coach Jeff Wheeler, always gets the kids ready to play varsity. He runs camps for the younger kids from kindergarten to fifth grade. Our modified coach, Joanna Fildes is constantly developing the kids at the middle school level. We have all the bases covered; we work well together. We’re not afraid to question and challenge each other. It’s a very open type of working relationship.”

Additionally, the support the program receives from the district administrators is vital to success.

“The other piece, the third part, would be that our administration, faculty and staff support us,” Chatelle said. “We got a bunch of emails from teachers in the middle and elementary schools. Every administrator made it to at least one playoff game. Support was there, the teachers were there. That meant a lot to the kids. They knew they were there.”

The final aspect is the support Chatelle receives from his own family, which is vital for any coach hoping to be successful.

“The last part of it is the support I get from my own family,” Chatelle said. “They’ve made a lot of sacrifices to allow me to coach and take time away from them. My middle son, Justin, joined the coaching staff this year. They did all they could to support me and the team and the program.”

email: tnigrelli@beenews.com

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