Another Gedaka standing out on the court
Gloucester Catholic girls' basketball coach Lisa Gedaka recalls a conversation she had with her daughter, Mary, before this season:
"I told her, 'If this doesn't work, I'll retire.' I said, 'If that's what you want, I've coached long enough. This is your high school journey.' And it's true; I didn't want to take away from that."
According to Mary Gedaka, asking her mother not to be her high school coach was never really an option she considered. And having her there has paid dividends thus far for the freshman.
Mary Gedaka is off to a scorching start for the 9-0 Rams, ranked No. 6 in South Jersey by The Inquirer. She is a 5-foot-11 forward who is physical on both ends of the floor, but nimble and quick enough to come up with a steal and run the length of the court.
In so many ways - height, looks, imposing style of play - Mary Gedaka can't help but remind you of the best girls' basketball player ever to wear a Gloucester Catholic uniform.
Her mother is the all-time leading scorer in Rams history with 2,035 points. Lisa Gedaka (née Angelotti) went on to a standout career at Villanova, where her number, 25, was retired in 2002. And she has coached her high school alma mater for 24 seasons, racking up more than 400 wins.
On the surface, the long shadow of her mom's legacy would seem to chase Mary.
But for the Gedakas, that's just undue pressure.
"I do think about it sometimes," Mary Gedaka said. "But I'm my own person. And that's one of the things my mom tells me. She wants me to work hard for myself and my teammates, and she'll be there to help me along the way."
On the court, Lisa Gedaka said it's been almost too easy to forget that she's coaching her daughter.
"I think maybe it's something that only people who coach their kids can relate to," she said. "But, truly, when she's on the floor, she's just another player."
And that means Mary receives the same intense, often in-your-face coaching style that consistently has produced teams with reputations for being extremely disciplined and fundamentally sound.
"Probably the negative of me coaching her is that I don't get to watch her as a parent," Lisa Gedaka said. "I'm watching her as a coach. But, you know what, she's been doing great and it's been working out really well so far."
Mary Gedaka couldn't agree more.
"We can bump heads," she said. "But she's my mom at home and coach on the court. And even if she wasn't the coach, I would still want her on this journey through high school with me.
"I think it just makes it even better to have her as a coach because I know she'll always be there for me."
Contact Chris Melchiorre at email@example.com.