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P.O. Girls Basketball Coach of the Year: Katie LaRue

Katie LaRue grew up in the textbook definition of a “basketball family.”

The youngest of three, LaRue and her two older brothers all played basketball in college after being groomed by their father, who also grew up playing the game. And her brother Rusty eventually made it to the NBA, and was a part of the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls championship squad.

It’s safe to say basketball runs in her blood, and lucky for Mercersburg Academy, she brought her passion for the game to the Blue Storm girls basketball team.

Mercersburg had its most successful season in program history, winning its first-ever Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association championship, and made strides in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League and the Independent-Parochial School League.

After winning its first ever IPSL title and falling short in the MAPL final, Mercersburg worked its way through the PAISAA state tournament, battling through some adversity and unknown competition to earn the program's first state championship. LaRue is the Public Opinion Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

LaRue has been at the helm of the girls’ basketball program since joining Mercersburg Academy in 2011, and transformed a program that had just five wins in 2010 into champions, thanks to new coaching strategies she’s picked up along her long-tenured career in basketball.

LaRue played Division I basketball at Charleston Southern University and won the Big South Conference’s Rookie of the Year in her freshman season. Since then, she has collected various coaching ideologies from her time on the court with so many different leaders.

“In high school no one ever taught me the off-the-court pieces,” LaRue said, referring some of the philosophies she has brought to the program, including her belief in mistake response mentality. LaRue believes that the way a player reacts to a mistake, such as a missed shot or a bad pass, can affect the game.

“I never get mad about a mistake, I get mad about how you react to the mistake,” LaRue said. “They’ve learned that if they keep playing and they keep working and they don’t stop until the very last buzzer at the very end, there is always a chance you can win.”

Besides the mistake mentality, LaRue also brought meditation and other practices into the gym when she began her tenure at Mercersburg. Now years later, LaRue’s philosophy is finally taking shape.

“I have kids who buy into what we are doing, and to me that’s the first step to becoming a better program,” she said. “If you have kids who are buying into what you are doing and what you are teaching, they see that the things we are saying will work, and have worked.

"Clearly it’s worked for us, and as a coach all you can ask for is great kids who are excited for what we are doing and I definitely have that.”