Ignacio's Sky Cotton
Shane Seibel
Gabriela Garcia
Ignacio's Sky Cotton (24) floats calmly over two Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates during road action last season. Cotton's intensity will again be crucial to IHS' performance this winter.
Now head coach of the Lady Bobcats, Shane Seibel – then just a spectator – chats with Ridgway's Steve Hill, one of Colorado's winningest coaches ever, prior to the teams' meeting inside IHS Gymnasium last season.
Ignacio's Gabriela Garcia (right) accelerates to the baseline around a Mosca Sangre de Cristo defender during last season's Class 2A consolation-bracket action inside CSU-Pueblo's Massari Arena. Hustle shouldn't be lacking for the senior during the 2013-14 campaign.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Thumbnail image of Ignacio's Sky Cotton
Thumbnail image of Shane Seibel
Thumbnail image of Gabriela Garcia

Lady ’Cats: Ready, willing, and Seibel

Instructing and orchestrating the high-speed blur that is basketball … basically old hat to him.

As a contented spectator last winter, witnessing two daughters logging varsity minutes, Shane Seibel thought he’d hung that hat up for good.  Or at least the foreseeable future … now already arrived.

“Sitting on the ‘sidelines,’ you know … while I enjoyed it, I really missed coaching,” said the longtime IHS varsity boys’ assistant/JV boss.  “I really missed the kids.  Missed the energy that they had, that they bring, and I thought I could help.”

With Justa Whitt electing to pursue other interests rather than return and follow up on her 16-9, Class 2A ‘Great Eight’ debut season, and assistant/JV skipper Bri Simbeck choosing to take charge of 3A Bayfield’s varsity, a couple chairs on Ignacio’s girls’ bench were suddenly, alarmingly vacated.

Enter the born-and-bred Bobcat, at least to fill the more prominent of the pair.

“Hats off to Justa [Whitt], had a great season last year!” Seibel said, speaking Tuesday, Nov. 5 – about a week before the 2013-14 slate’s first official practice.  “But being a single mom, single income – it’s tough, and so I completely understand where she’s coming from.”

“Just building on tradition that has been established,” continued the 1989 IHS grad.  “There’s been some great success, wonderful coaches that have come in and done a fine job.  Right now, that comes to the forefront with the seniors and some of those underclassmen that played last year.”

Graduation in May did rip out most of the engine and drive train that powered Ignacio deep into the postseason, but Seibel knows there’s still some crucial parts left around which he can attempt a rebuild.

“We’re just going to reload; we don’t rebuild, just reload,” he laughed, correcting the writer.

Minus the potent Valerie Armstrong-Mariah Vigil-Pam Cotton front line, as well as star guard/forward Michelle Simmons, IHS’ strong suit will be the uniforms in the backcourt – senior Cloe Seibel and sophomore Sky Cotton, with both able to play either the point or 2-guard roles.

Senior Gabriela Garcia, able in the backcourt but also effective as a wing-type forward, will also be leaned upon heavily to provide veteran leadership.  Sophomores Ellie Seibel and Chrystianne Valdez will find their 2012-13 roles revised and enhanced, while vets Roshae Weaver and Deja Herrera will again offer extra depth.

“Right now our strength is going to be overall team quickness.  We’re short in stature, but big on heart – and we’re going to really work on using that strength,” said Seibel.  “That’s our deal; we don’t have any girls very tall – still trying to recruit from volleyball! – but they’ve got big passion for the game.”

“One of the things we’re going to continue to build on … they’ve got a great base defensively.  Coach [Brice] Searles and Coach Justa really established good, fundamental, sound principles in the defensive areas – I just want to continue to improve on that,” he added.  “And, really, we’ve got to shoot the ball; if you’re short in stature you’ve got to use your quickness to get to the basket, but also be able to shoot your open shots.  That’s going to be a key, finding our shooting touch.”

“I am focused on just coming in and being the best coach that I can, help them with some experience that I gained on the boys’ side – coaching underneath and learning from one of the best coaches [Chris Valdez] in the history of Ignacio Basketball.”

Of course, having State Championship-experience from which to also draw upon will also help.

“The wonderful team of ’88, we won the [Class A-Div. I] State Championship.  Fantastic group that year, very big – we had a tall lineup – had outside shooting, inside … the whole package,” he recalled.

“That following year we came back [to State] and … weren’t picked to do very well.  But we ended up getting back to the championship, and lost by three.  It was a fantastic run … learned a lot.  Hard work, great attitude – that’s what our focus was.  I’ve seen that, and that’s something that’s instilled in me.”

The Lady Bobcats’ season-opener will be December 5th against 4A Farmington, N.M., at 3A Shiprock, New Mexico’s Jerry Richardson Memorial/Lady Chieftain Invitational.

“Going to be a fantastic learning experience for the ladies right out of the gate,” Seibel said.  “Our goal right now is really conditioning, conditioning … teamwork, and hitting fundamentals every day.”

“I firmly believe anything’s possible on this earth.  If you put your heart, your effort, and your great attitude to it … anything’s possible.”


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