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Coach wins dual honors

Bob Walsh, in his fourth season as the head coach of the Otter Valley boys varsity basketball team, has been named Coach of the Year for both the Marble Valley League and Division II. This year he guided the Otters to a 15 - 7 record, and it took a quadruple overtime loss in the Division II quarterfinals to keep them out of Barre. Coach Walsh grew up around the game, first as a player, then as a coach. He began playing in fifth grade, and played high school for Queensbury high school, where he was an honorable mention his senior year for the McNamara All-Stars. Following graduation he went to Southern Illinois, where he made the Division I team as a freshman. But looking to play a little more, he transferred to Skidmore College following his freshman year, and play he did. Not only did he start his three years at Skidmore College, he was their team captain his senior year, getting his first taste of basketball leadership. Following college he played for a few years in an East Coast based semiprofessional league called the Patrick League. After that he kept active by playing in many local mens leagues, and by entering coaching. His first coaching job was at Spa Catholic for four years. He then coached a small Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) team before landing the head coaching job at Trinity College for two years, before coming to Otter Valley eight years ago. At Otter Valley he coached the eighth grade girls team for a year, and then did the freshman girls team for three years, before landing his current position as the varsity coach four years ago. In all that vast experience he points to his high school junior varsity coach John Dennett as having influenced his coaching philosophy the most. His approach to the game was always playing it right, recalls Walsh. There was always an expectation that you did your best, and anything short of that you would get his wrath. You didnt have to be the best basketball player in the world, but it was all about effort and hustle. That philosophy was obvious to anyone who watched, or played against his Otters this season. You never knew if they were to going to be hot offensively or not, but you could count on them to play hard every second they were on the floor. Their defense was tenacious because of that effort level, and it was a major part of the Otters success this season. These kids really bought into the idea of hard work and making our team defense our strength. That was obvious to me in the first 15 minutes of practice. When asked about what the dual honors meant to him the concept of team comes shining through again. I am humbled to be recognized by a group of peers I have come to honor and respect, states Walsh, but I wish the award could be renamed Team of the Year, because I truly believe it was the players that made things happen this year, and these awards were a way for other coaches to recognize that effort.

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