For nearly 20 years, Jenny Poli has been a member of the Alpena High School girls basketball program, whether as a player or as a coach.
Now after 16 years as a coach, Poli is ready to focus on other things after she recently resigned as varsity girls basketball coach, a post she held for four seasons.
"I have a love of sports that won't disappear, but now I can refocus that time (normally spent coaching) toward my family," Poli said.
Poli was tagged as Alpena's interim coach in March 2009 after Rod Borchard resigned. She led Alpena in a district semifinal game against Marquette and was officially named head coach in May. She posted a 21-61 record in four seasons and said she was told new direction was needed for the program.
Alpena battled low numbers, youth and a rash of injuries this season, finishing with a 6-15 record. That didn't stop the Wildcats from being competitive in several games against tough opponents, as they topped Traverse City Central at home and played tight games with Gaylord and Traverse City West among others.
Poli was proud of the effort of her players this last season and praised their unity as a team through some tough stretches.
After her playing days were over, Poli realized that coaching was her true passion. She became the freshman girls basketball coach for three years at Alpena starting in 1996 and was the JV coach for nine seasons after that. Starting in 1997 she was also a JV softball coach for nine years.
"I think it was the coaches when I got hired, especially Tom Lavoie. I wanted to coach with my mentors," Poli said. "I fell in love with the game (as a player) and I wanted to share that part of the game. I wanted to mentor kids and pass that on."
As for the future, Poli plans to continue mentoring kids as coach of her daughter's soccer team and will continue to support Alpena athletics.
"I was a Wildcat then (as a student) and I'll be a Wildcat for life," she said.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694.