There is no past or tradition for Missy Mitidiero to fall back on.
That's fine with the first-year Plainfield East girls basketball coach. The former Marian Catholic and DePaul star is anxious to get a tradition started in a school that is entering its fourth year.
"We can have a sense of pride and be the ones to start it," Mitidiero said. "We had a good summer league and we have some talent.
"I can't wait for the season to start."
A new school with great facilities and a good talent pool combined with her enthusiasm and basketball know-how is a formula for long-term success.
"This is like being on the ground floor and you build the program," Mitidiero said. "We have a great athletic director and the (girls assistant) coaches who were here last year have been great as far as helping me out with the little things."
Mitidiero played for two programs with great tradition. At Marian she was The Times Player of the Year in 2001-02 and 2002-03. The 2002 Spartans, under coach Shannon Reidy, finished second in the Class AA tournament and qualified for the Elite Eight in 2003. That was the start of Marian's rise among the elite of girls basketball programs in the state.
At DePaul, she played for Doug Bruno and the Blue Demons have carved quite a niche for themselves in the women's basketball world. She said she learned quite a bit from the veteran coach.
"Doug taught me how to coach in practice and in games, but he was really good at how to be a coach off the court," Mitidiero said. "That is what I will also push. It's how you conduct yourself, how you prepare to play and how you do in the classroom."
She said there was an incident in a summer league game where an opposing player went after a Bengals player.
"I called a time-out and told the kids you have to walk away from that, even if someone comes after you," Mitidiero said. "You can't fight back. You play hard, but you don't do that. You get a reputation for yourself, the school and the program. Doug taught us about not engaging in those types of things."
Mitidiero, who grew up in Lansing, spent three years playing professionally in Europe. She spent two years in Holland and one in Iceland. She said that also helped her not only with her game, but overall.
"It opened my eyes because what we have here is completely different from over there," Mitidiero said. "Coaches are different and because of that, you mature faster. You are on your own more and that is a good thing because you learn quickly.
"It was a phenomenal experience."
She hopes to make playing in her program just that.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.