Four years ago Manasquan was not seen in the best of light. It was not a good time for the Manasquan program. The program needed a real guiding hand. Their best players had left the team, the coaches were fired and the administration and parents were fighting; after winning the TOC title.
AD Ron Kornergay knew if he was going to get his girls basketball program back on it’s feet, he needed to hire a coach with more than X and O’s. He needed someone who understood that he wanted to build a program, not a team. He needed somebody who would nurture the kids left in the program. He needed somebody that could regain the trust of the community, players and parents. So he went to the program that does it better than anyone… RBC and hired a baby faced assistant coach…Lisa Kukoda
Kornegay had the vision to hire a star
Lisa Kukoda stepped into a fire storm when hired. She took over a state championship team. They had lost there 3 best players…ALL TOP 100 PLAYERS IN THE COUNTRY. She walked into a program surrounded with rumors. She walked into a program with many unhappy parents and players. The school administrators were under fire and it was not a nice time. The fact that she even wanted the job was strange. There is no question if she waited she could get a plum job down the road, without the problems surrounding Manasquan. But Lisa Kukoda knew she was ready and believed the program could be a winner…so she took the hardest job in the shore and started to rebuild it.
Kukoda became a mentor to Sullivan
When a program is having problems, the first thing I always say is this…CHECK THE ACCOUNTABLITY FACTOR. When Kukoda took the Manasquan coaching position, many wanted her to be heavy handed. She had a fiery player in Sam Sullivan (Wagner College) who many were watching to see how she handled. Lisa Kukoda did two things for her star. First she coached her up and allowed her to expand her game. Then she became her mentor and coach. She didn’t embarrass Sullivan to make those outside of her program happy. She refused to play to the crowd, she did one thing, she held Sam Sullivan accountable and in doing so, she won over her team and turned Sullivan into a real leader.
The Coach of the year had Twins
Kukoda made sure Senior Amanda Hagaman was credited with being a big part of her team. She allowed her to shoot the ball, pass, rebound and showcase her total game…SHE BELIEVED IN HAGAMAN, now a 3 year starter for UMBC. She took kids like Eva Hart and Courtney Hagaman and told them they were important. In her first year, Lisa Kukoda took a team of nobody’s and got them the respect they craved. Her calming affect off the court was also priceless. For this Kukoda was named Asbury Press coach of the year. She won 20 games and her team was ranked in the TOP 20. It was a team that everyone said was going to be a joke….turns out the joke was on everyone else. It was a great year for the RBC family, because her mentor Joe Montano won the SCT and went undefeated in the Shore Conference. Mentor and pupil only made the RBC brand BIGGER.
When her team was flooded with talent in her 2nd year, the rumors were back. Marina Mabrey returned, Stella Clark joined the team, along with cousin Addie Masonius. This could’ve have been a recipe to send Manasquan back in time. The players who were there had success, Sam Sullivan was a star, Eva Hart has become the backbone of the team. Courtney Hagaman was expecting a break out season. All this and more was out there.
MANASQUAN SCT CHAMPS…
But what did Lisa Kukoda do? First she again was not heavy handed with her star Marina Mabrey. She natured Marina, she taught her to give credit to teammates. She turned her loose when she needed her special gifts, but made sure Marina not only included her teammates, but made sure she gave them credit in public. Lisa Kukoda was masterful, she made sure that her star Sam Sullivan was still a major part of the team and treated with the respect that all leaders deserve. She made sure Eva Hart knew she still was the backbone. But more than anything she again held her players accountable. Play the right way and no drama on or off the court. When she was unhappy with them, she didn’t embarrass them in public. She made her points behind closed doors. No yelling, benching them or playing to the crowd. Lisa Kukoda had her team wrapped around her finger. In her 2nd year, she won the SCT and lost in the TOC final. It was a dream start for any coach. She had proved she could win with and all types of talent level. Her teams were gaining a reputation for playing to its highest level regardless of the talent level.
KUKODA NOW HAS A TOC TO HER COLLECTION
In year three, Lisa Kukoda won the SCT and the TOC. She won the WOBM, she won the Group 2 title again. Her team won everything that a team could win. Lisa Kukoda, beat everyone and more importantly made a reputation on game night. She became the master out of time outs. She became a master at running sets and game winning decisions. In her third year it became clear Manasquan had one of the best bench coaches in New Jersey. She was putting on coaching clinics on the biggest stages. Lisa Kukoda was the entire package. She relates to administrators, players, parents and fans. She has gained the trust of us all. The Manasqaun administration is grateful, Ron Konergay had such insight. Oh yeah Lisa Kukoda won her third Coach of the Year Award.
LISA KUKODA HAS THE TRUST OF ALL
This summer Lisa Kukoda and her husband had twins. She is now a mother of two, but if the truth be told. Her nurturing and family approach has made Manasquan one big family as well. It reminds you of RBC, as her players all sit together before cames. They laugh and joke, they braid each other hair. These are happy girls; kids who are enjoying their high school experience. Why else would Gillian Black, who is out with a torn ACL be smiling so much. She leads the pre-game introductions and a prime example of what kids in high school basketball should look like. Her players tweet about her. They take pictures of themselves holding the twins. She hugs her players and lets them enjoy being part of something special. Lisa Kudoda has written the new blue print for all coaches..
LISA KUKODA…A RARE TALENT
This season Lisa Kukoda showed she could handle adversity. When unexpectedly Manasquan lost 2 expected starters (Gillian Black/Victoria Galvan) in the summer, most believed that Manasquan would still be good. But losing these two and Marina Mabrey would kill any chance for a SCT or TOC run. But come Saturday Lisa Kukoda and her team will be somewhere nobody thought they’d be….the SCT FINAL. Her team will try and climb an almost impossible montain in SJV. Her team will have to play a perfect game. They will have to do what they always do, play as a team and share the ball. They will have to be cockroaches and never go away. But regardless of what happens know this. Her players will be happy after the buzzer goes off, Why? Because of their coach. I hope they enjoy there time with this superstar, who already is one of the best ever in just 4 years. …because LISA KUKODA will one day be a household name in college basketball…she my friends is what the PRESENT AND THE FUTURE OF WHAT COACHING LOOKS LIKE!
*POINT GUARD SCHOOL TONIGHT…5PM
* SHOOTING SESSION TONIGHT…6PM