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New TMP coach excited about opportunity

Published on -4/15/2012, 7:20 PM

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Thomas More Prep-Marian replaced one successful girls' basketball coach at the school with another.

TMP announced Thursday Rose McFarland will be the school's new girls' basketball coach.

"She had been at TMP before, and had success there," TMP Athletic Director Gene Flax said.

McFarland, who previously coached at TMP from the 1991-92 season through the 1994-95 season, takes over for Alan Billinger, who retired after a 19-4 year. In 11 years at the school, Billinger went 171-81 with nine consecutive league titles. The Monarchs went to state in 2010 and 2011, winning the Class 3A championship in 2010 and taking fourth in 2011.

"I thought Coach Billinger did an incredible job, leading the team for the past several years," McFarland said. "We're hoping to continue that excellence."

McFarland has a 72-21 record in four seasons as Monarch coach. Her teams won outright or shared three league titles, and took second her other year as coach. In the '93-94 season, McFarland guided the Monarchs to the Class 4A state tournament, the first trip to the season finale in program history. TMP lost in the first round.

Before coming to TMP, McFarland coached at Downs (84-86) and Phillipsburg (86-91). After leaving TMP, McFarland coached at WaKeeney-Trego from 2001-06.

Since then, McFarland was a caregiver for her ill mother for a couple years. She also has been a substitute teacher and helped coach her son's sixth-grade basketball team this year. In addition to her coaching duties at the high school, McFarland will teach computer applications and physical education at the new Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior High School.

"Very excited, looking forward to it," McFarland said.

McFarland hopes to install her system at the junior high school, and also instill the needed fundamentals at camps for elementary school students.

"Having the new junior high is going to be such a benefit, a plus for the high school," McFarland said. "We're going to be able to work together, build a program from the bottom up, and that's really my goal."

McFarland, 50, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November. She had surgery later that month, and just recently had her last chemotherapy treatment.

But that didn't stop McFarland from pursuing the TMP opening.

"My main thing is I want to be healthy first, so I've been going through treatments this winter," McFarland said. "For me, staying busy, having some goals, that's very important. I feel like I'm headed in the right path as far as my health."

Flax said the concern from TMP's viewpoint was to make sure coaching would not affect her health.

"We certainly questioned her on that, because we did not want to put her in the position of it not being good for her health," Flax said. "Things are looking good there, and so she was excited about the opportunity."

McFarland gave it some thought before letting TMP officials know she was interested.

"I've tried to stay real positive through all this; I prayed about it," McFarland said. "I just feel like the opportunity there, no need to pass it up because I'm worried about what might happen in the future.

"I get excited about basketball, I love basketball," she added. "I know there are stressors that go with it, but to me there are stressors in everyday life -- it's how you handle it."

McFarland hopes to name her assistant coach early this week, and also plans to meet with her players in the coming days. Next year's squad will be led by all-conference point guard Heather Ruder, who will be a senior.

"I'm real excited about working with those athletes," McFarland said. "I had a wonderful group of young ladies the last time I was there. Looking forward to the opportunity to work with another group.

"They've got a real rich tradition of excellence," she added. "I believe in Catholic education."

McFarland believes in fundamentals first.

"My philosophy is work hard and are prepared," McFarland said. "We're fundamentally sound, and that we enjoy what we are doing.

"I think that's how you reap the benefits of working hard," she added. "We're going to be fundamentally sound, but we base what we do on who we have at the time. You just build your team around what you have, what makes them most successful."

McFarland experienced success as a player in high school and college (see sidebar, this page). Now, after experiencing success the first time around, she is in her second go-round as coach at TMP -- illness or no illness.

"I want to get out, be a productive member of society, too," McFarland said. "I have a lot to give, a lot to offer."

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