Chelsea to rely on new players during upcoming season

By SETH HAGAN | Special to the Reporter

CHELSEA – Chelsea basketball is going through some growing pains heading into the 2020-2021 season, not only losing nine seniors from last year, but also dealing with COVID-19 restrictions making it very difficult to fill key positions during the offseason.

But head coach Nick Baumbaugh is a veteran coach at Chelsea and knows what it’s going to take to get the Hornets ready to battle for an area championship and playoff spot this season.

“We’re trying to mesh a lot of new, young kids with what we’re doing,” Baumbaugh said. “We’re excited about this year, just trying to figure out who can help us.”

The timing of the virus couldn’t have been worse for the Hornets who badly needed that extra time to develop camaraderie and learn the offensive and defensive terminology.

“This was the first summer where I felt like we really needed it,” Baumbaugh said. “It’s crazy for it to happen like it did. About any other year we’d come out and be able to go with what we do, this year there’s a lot more break down and teaching of what’s going on in practice.”

Senior Holton Smith, one of the few members of the team with varsity experience, found himself only able to work out with the football team during the summer due to COVID-19 restrictions and had to hold himself accountable.

“It was tough because I was with the football team all summer. Football practice in the morning and in the afternoon with two-a-days,” Smith said. “It really was just me by myself working at home getting shots up. Now that we’re around each other more it’s better, but we still need to develop that chemistry.”

In a time when flexibility is key, Baumbaugh adjusted and found less traditional ways of imprinting his philosophy on the minds of his athletes.

“We’re really trying to make things more competitive in practice,” he said. “A lot more free play and then teaching within those moments. Also more filming of practice and going back and learning from that as well.”

The new methods are starting to take hold and spark positive change and improvement within the team. Players are competing and training in ways they haven’t in a while, and the coaching staff has been encouraged by their initiative.

“Because we didn’t have the football kids or the baseball kids, we started to focus on getting a ton of shots up in the offseason,” Baumbaugh said. “One of the things our kids have done more than before is shooting before school, I’ll have a group of four or five students two or three times a week in the gym before classes start.”

And early in the season, the Hornets have already started showing their growth, picking up a 46-37 win against Minor. And despite one poor quarter of defensive play, Chelsea played lights out on that end of the floor and got points from seven different players, including four 3-pointers from Riley Edmiston.

The Hornets may not have a lot of returning experience, but with a coach that knows how to get the most out of them and plenty of athletes on the floor, they should be able to become what they need to throughout the season.

“The year has certainly not been without its problems and faults, but how we react to our problems, more often than not, determines their outcome,” Baumbaugh said.