Cary Finberg had coached the Columbia Falls boys’ basketball team for 15 years – since about the time his daughter, Ciera, was born. But it was 2011 and she was headed to high school now – and with it high school basketball.
Finberg had missed some of her games before, but now he was staring a shutout in the face with the Wildkats’ season running concurrent with his boys’ team.
The only way he’d manage to see her play that freshman year was from the bench as coach, he figured. Still, the boys’ basketball program at the high school was his offspring as well, raised and matured under his watchful eye.
He couldn’t turn his baby over to someone else.
“The boys' team, we had it rolling and the program was set,” said the coach, who’d piloted C. Falls to its fourth State A title under his regime just months earlier. “We worked very hard to get it to where it was and I didn't want to give it up. I'd invested too much in that.
“(But) if I'd continued to just coach the boys, I never would have gotten to see my daughters play,” he continued. “It's kind of the best of both worlds.”
Finberg’s mind was made up: With girls’ varsity coach Dan Fairbank conveniently stepped down at the same time, Finberg would become the newest member of Montana’s tiny coaching club and head both programs at once.