Girls basketball: Raiders excited to get the ball rolling with new head coach
New Lake Park-Audubon head girls basketball coach Kaila Capouch is excited for her opportunity to lead a promising group into a competitive Pine to Prairie Conference and Section 6A slate.
LAKE PARK – Kaila Capouch started her 13th year of coaching as the head coach for the first time. She couldn't be more "jacked" to get the season going.
Capouch was quite the athlete growing up in Lake Park. She said she played every sport possible, but basketball seemed to be her favorite.
"We were supposed to be the first team to take Lake Park to state for girls basketball," she said. "Our heart got broken, and we actually lost right away in the playoffs."
That loss still lingers. She has made it a goal for herself to bring the Raiders to the state tournament as coach.
"After that loss, my new dream was to go to a small town, coach and take my team to state," Capouch said. "It took a while, but I finally came back around. I'm excited to be here."
The Raiders finished last season with an overall record of 14-13. They finished in second place in the Pine to Prairie Conference-South standings behind Mahnomen-Waubun with a record 10-3. Their season was cut short after a second-round loss in sections to New York Mills in the Section 6A tournament.
With a new coach at the helm, the expectations for year one are still very high.
"As a coach, I want to win every game," Capouch said. "We know that we will lose. And when we lose, we will learn. I want the kids to not only have fun but know that we can win any game out there. I want other teams to fear us and be like, 'Where did they come from?' I definitely have high expectations."
With those high expectations, Capouch has set some big goals in her first season.
"I want the girls to have their best season in terms of the way they play, the passion they have, the family we build and the intensity they bring," she said. "We all want to win. I would love to be way over .500. I would love to play for a conference championship, win that and hang a banner in the gym. Do I think all that is possible? Absolutely. I just have goosebumps because I'm so excited about what the team can do. Not only this year but in the future."
In order to reach those goals, Capouch needs to win over the trust of her team. She had leaned heavily on her two senior captains, Thea Mattson and Maya Rosing, to do just that.
"Coming into the summer, I wanted to have captains that could push us through the summer and communicate with the girls," she said. "I ended up picking two of the seniors, and boy, I picked great ones. They have been leaders on and off the court. They are dedicated. They are here at the captain's practice and vocal at practice. They step in anytime I need them to. They are so coachable. They are great leaders and will be detrimental to us this year."
Mattson and Rosing are excited to see what the season has in store for them with a new coach.
"It wasn't a super big change between our last coach and Kaila now," Mattson said. "It was an easy transition."
The two girls know this team better than anyone. Mattson understands that the team doesn't have the height they have in recent years but is certain they have a way to combat that.
"I think we want to play fast," she said. "We aren't a very big team. We are going to have to be running up and down the court, fast break stuff, layups and more of an outside shooting team than in past years because we don't have that big post presence."
"We will have to be very strong on defense to get those fast break opportunities which will help us to beat those tougher teams because teams won't be able to keep up with our speed," Rossing said.
A lot has changed since Capouch left Lake Park-Audubon. The Raiders used to be in the Heart O' Lakes Conference. Since then, they've moved to the Pine to Prairie Conference. Capouch isn't about any rivalries but knows the importance of each game.
"Now, knowing that we have been in the Pine to Prairie for a long time, I have no clue who our rivalries are, but I know every game is a big game," Capouch said. "I want to get ready for that game that we are playing and not a game down the road."
Mattson knows which team she'll be most excited to play against, and it so happens to be their first game of the season.
"The first game of the year, you always want to start off strong, and it's usually been against Frazee," she said. "After losing to them last year, we want to get them this time around and catch them off guard."
Capouch is living out a dream she has had since she was a Raider. She loves basketball and can't wait to see what she can bring to the program.
"I am so passionate, and I tell the girls that when I am able to coach and do this, it feels like I am tying up my shoes again and hopping on the court and playing," Capouch said. "I have so much passion for basketball, and it's so exciting to show the girls and hop in and play with them. It's so great to show them that it doesn't matter what your age is, that coming together as a family is so fun."