Conant names new coach
Daniel Rosenfield is the new girls varsity basketball coach at Conant High School. Rosenfield, who was selected by a committee of coaches and parents from a pool of dozens, comes to an Oriole program that was somewhat in flux this offseason. He’ll replace Nick Hill, who coached the girls team to a 19-2 record last season, his eighth year in a run that included two state titles. Hill was let go this summer with athletic director Rick Simoneau citing concerns about dwindling numbers.
“In order to re-energize the program and to get the girls to come out in greater numbers, there had to be a change,” Simoneau said, “and that change had to be at the top. We needed new energy, new blood. If you look at the middle school, there are an incredible number of girls trying out at the middle school level, and that wasn’t transferring to the high school. It was a trend that I had seen developing that I found troublesome.”
Of all the girls who won’t be playing basketball for Conant this season, none are more notable than Madison Springfield, last year’s legacy freshman phenom who left for Marianapolis Prep after averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds in her debut season. Rosenfield said he’s not concerned with her departure, choosing instead to look forward and focus on the team he does have.
“Basketball is not a one person game,” Rosenfield said. “When Kobe Bryant is injured, sometimes the Lakers are a better team. We’re just going to have to adjust. We’re not going to give up because we don’t have her. Maybe it’s tougher for the community that she chose to go somewhere else, but for me it’s the same as if she graduated.”
Rosenfield most recently coached the North Tahoe High School (Calif.) boys basketball team to a 4-20 record in the 2011-12 season.
That was his first foray into coaching after retiring from a long-time position at the University of Lousiana-Lafayette, where he was Dean of Enrollment Management.
Prior to his time as an administrator, Rosenfield coached a handful of boys high school basketball teams in the 1970s; most notable was his stint at Glen Springs Academy in upstate New York, where he coached a team made up of Brooklyn playground superstars (including Rucker Park legend and future ABA player James “Fly” Williams) to a triple-OT championship against St. Thomas More (Conn.) in 1972.
“That had much more to do with the talent of the student-athletes than the talent of the then-young coach,” Rosenfield joked.
All of Rosenfield’s previous coaching experience has been as a boys coach (he admitted that he probably hasn’t watched a dozen girls basketball games in his life); he said he plans on emphasizing fundamentals and sportsmanship with his young Orioles team.
“I don’t want to talk about wins and losses,” Rosenfield said. “I want to talk about getting better as individuals, I want to talk about getting better as a team. I don’t make any promises to anybody other than that I’m going to do my best every time I walk into that gym, and I don’t want the players to make any promises other than that they will do their best every time they walk into the gym. Sportsmanship is something I really want to see. If you’re going to be talking to anyone on the floor, it’s not going to be trash talk. I don’t think that’s an atmosphere that I have to create, because I think it already has been, and if it hasn’t, it will be.”
A Connecticut native who graduated from Vermont’s Windham University and got his Master’s degree at Plymouth State, Rosenfield is almost as excited to return to New England as he is to return to coaching.
“When I started this whole process and decided I want to get back into coaching, my wife gave me this piece of advice: promise you won’t tell any athletic directors how much you would pay them for them to give you a head coaching job,” Rosenfield said. “(As a retiree), I could be doing anything I wanted to. This is what I’ve chosen, not because I’m a wonderful guy, but because I like kids and I like basketball. I just can’t wait to get started.”