Sports

Kingston taps Gienger to lead girls basketball program — for now

Penny Gienger on the sidelines at Bainbridge High last year.  - Brad Camp/File Photo
Penny Gienger on the sidelines at Bainbridge High last year.
— image credit: Brad Camp/File Photo

KINGSTON — Kingston High School has hired former Bainbridge High coach Penny Gienger to lead its girls basketball program for the 2009-10 season.

The school was forced to find an interim coach after former head coach Kevin Strozier resigned unexpectedly on Nov. 12, just four days before the team’s first tryouts.

Gienger said she originally planned to fill in as coach only through the first week of practice. When the school was unable to find a full-time coach by Nov. 20, the deadline for applications, she chose to stay on for the remainder of the season.

“Since they didn’t find a coach, I just felt that the girls deserved to have somebody,” Gienger said. “Being back in the gym with the Kingston girls, it’s kind of in my blood. That first week was really fun. And if it wouldn’t have been, I wouldn’t be doing it.”

Gienger said she does not intend to continue coaching the Buccaneers beyond the current season.

Gienger, who was the winningest basketball coach in Bainbridge High School history with 301 victories in 18 seasons, retired from coaching the girls basketball team last winter. She continues to teach physical education full time at the school.

Gienger was set to coach girls basketball at Bainbridge’s Woodward Middle School this season, but left that post Monday to return to the high school court at Kingston.

“I felt that I could do it for one more year,” she said. “I just had to reorganize things and get out of some of the stuff I was taking care of.”

Kingston High School Athletic Director Dan Novick said Gienger was the most qualified candidate for the job. Gienger’s tenure at Bainbridge included seven state tournament appearances, one of which, in 1999, resulted in a championship.

“We’re very blessed to have her,” Novick said. “We’re just happy for our kids. They have someone that’s very qualified to lead them for the remainder of the season.”

Gienger brought long-time Bainbridge assistant Roger Miller with her to help lead the Buccaneer squad. She said the biggest challenge she will face this year is learning the new team and league, while allowing the girls to get used to her.

“The girls are working hard,” she said. “They’re learning my system, which is different than what they’ve played before, but they’re picking it up. They have a great base, and they’re ready to go.”

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