DeRocher steps back into head coaching role with ACC

Courtesy Photo The 2021-22 Alpena Community College women’s basketball, from left to right, is: back: assistant coach Dakota Prevo, Melanie Morrison, Jade Schultz, Allie DeRocher, Madison Wilkinson, and head coach Cindy DeRocher; front: Jerzie Belleville, Linnea Hentkowski, Kegan Fisher, Mollie Girard and Jordan Kobelius.

ALPENA — Cindy DeRocher is going back to school this season.

Years after she stepped away from coaching, DeRocher is back on the sideline, ready to lead the Alpena Community College women’s basketball team.

“It has been (a few years). It’s fun. I still enjoy the student-athletes as much as ever,” DeRocher said. “The game’s changed a little bit, so I’ve had to go back and educate myself on some things.”

DeRocher, who played at ACC from 1980-82 under Frank McCourt, built a Hall of Fame coaching career at Trine (formerly Tri-State) University. Over 12 seasons, DeRocher won 238 games, was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1997, was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2003 and led her teams to four NAIA finals appearances in nine years.

Still, DeRocher said, changes in the way basketball is played today have changed her approach to coaching as she takes over ACC’s program.

“Offensively now players are just better one-on-one, even on the female side of things, athletes have improved,” DeRocher said. “Offensively, (it’s about coaching) concepts (like) pick-and-roll, getting separation, shooting’s further out so you can space out the floor a little bit better.”

As she leads the Lumberjacks in her first season, DeRocher wants her team to play more aggressively as it looks to improve from last year’s 1-12 record. The Lumberjacks have already shown flashes of what they can do and started off the season with a win.

DeRocher, who served as an assistant to Bobby Allen before being named head coach in April, said one of her long term goals for the program is to keep local talent at home. She’ll have a solid mix of local talent this season including: Mollie Girard, Jade Schultz and Allie DeRocher, all former Alpena Wildcats, Linnea Hentkowski (Rogers City), Melanie Morrison (Hillman) and Jordan Kobelius (Atlanta). Other players include Keagan Fischer (Bellaire), Jerzie Belleville (Rudyard) and Madison Wilkinson (Kalkaska).

“Our goal the last few years has been, can we keep some of our good local athletes here? There’s a tendency to leave and I think we’ll see that (more players staying),” DeRocher said. “As our program develops, I think we’ll see that trickle down.”

Time will tell how ACC finishes this season, but DeRocher has a talented roster to work with.

Schultz, who led ACC with 14.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game last season, has already shown a scoring touch this season, scoring more than 20 points in each of the Lumberjacks’ first two games. Allie DeRocher, who was one of the Wildcats’ leading scorers last season, is one of several versatile players who has the athleticism to play either a guard or forward position.

Girard — who is one of two players returning for a third season — averaged 8.6 points per game last year and is one of the team’s best ball handlers.

Fischer — ACC’s other third-year player — Hentkowski and Kobielus, all return from last year with more experience under their belts and ready to contribute.

Wilkinson and Morrison, like DeRocher, are talented enough to play either guard or forward and Belleville should give the Lumberjacks depth in the backcourt.

Above all, DeRocher wants to see her players compete every game, even if it means having to learn from mistakes along the way.

“We’re going to make mistakes, but let’s turn it up a little bit and not play too cautious and I think we have some good athletes we can do that with,” DeRocher said.


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