BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A familiar face is back working with the FMHS girls basketball team.
Former Bloodhound football and girls basketball coach Todd McGhghy will be back coaching the Fort Madison High School girls basketball team with his approval in front of the school board on June 18.
McGhghy has been coaching the 7th and 8th grade boys basketball teams for the past five years and said when Charlie Knipe stepped down earlier this year, he saw it as an opportunity to step back in.
The Eldridge native was the girls head coach for two years in the 2010-2012 seasons, when former Activities Director Brent Buttjer asked him if he would coach the girls basketball team. McGhghy had been coaching the Bloodhound football team since coming over from Iowa Wesleyan in 2008.
He said the first year will be more of an assessment period without considering the past.
“It’s kind of a first year, and mainly due to the timing of this hiring, it’s almost going to have be a year of assessment to take a look at where we’re at and what we’re doing and what we need to address and that kind of thing.”
He said the initial assessments are underway as he’s had a couple open gyms last week to get a look at skill levels.
“I’m not sure those initial assessments would be anything anybody else would agree with or disagree with,” McGhghy said.
“But their appears to be a lack of skills and things like that. That’s not attributed to anyone and until you’re at the practices you really don’t know what the issues might be. There’s no question that they were skill deficient and that’s not a reflection on past coaches. They would probably agree, but to comment on what I would do differently – I would have no clue at this point.”
He said he’s had more than 25 different girls total at the open gyms in the past week and each session had about 14 to 17 girls working out. Other girls have communicated with him that they are interested in playing, but have other commitments in the early spring. But McGhghy said there’s no lack of energy.
“There’s one thing they bring – they’re not lazy. I can tell you that and they give great effort,” he said. “Playing time with me is not based on politics or popularity or your past. I want them to draw their own conclusions about me and I’ll do the same. Nobody has a job and nobody’s good or bad at this point. It’s just about getting better.”
He said he hopes the girls give him a fresh start as to whether he’s a good or a bad coach, and he says he’s extending them the same courtesy.
“I’ll know what I think I have to do and then I’ll reflect on that on a daily bases to see if we’re accomplishing it. And if not take steps to fix it,” McGhghy said.
The move will also give McGhghy a chance to coach his daughter Braxtyn who just finished her junior year with the Bloodhounds. McGhghy also has two sons, Blake, who graduated from Harvard and is looking at law school, and Brody who just graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School and is preparing for college.
In addition to the coaching McGhghy’s done in the Fort Madison system, he’s also held girls basketball assistant coaching stints at Keokuk and Camp Point Central in Illinois under Matt Long. He’s also held football positions with the University of Central Arkansas and played for Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas after graduating from North Scott High School in Eldridge.
He said he entertained the thought of going into law, but then got a graduate assistant gig at Western Illinois University.
“Once you get that coaching bug…boy there’s no going back.”
McGhghy will be inheriting a team that went 1-21 this past fall and 5-17 the previous year.
Fort Madison newly hired activities director Jeremy Swink said he and the district are extremely excited to have Todd on board.
“He comes on with a wide range of coaching experiences including basketball and other sports and we look forward to him putting that to the task,” Swink said.