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Intensity times two

February 23, 2012
Northwest Montana A Conference


Intensity times two

Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 11:51 pm

COLUMBIA FALLS - The most tired guy in Columbia Falls as the Northwestern A Divisional basketball tournament gets ready to unfold this weekend?

Surprisingly, it's not Cary Finberg.

Head coach of both the Wildcats and the Wildkats, Finberg will admit basketball season was starting to get a little long a couple of weeks ago.

But not now. He may crash for a month when the whole thing is done, but right now it's tournament time and Finberg says he is energized and ready to go.

Good thing. By the time this weekend is over, he may coach as many as seven varsity basketball games.

This whole thing started because Finberg, the longtime boys head coach, wanted to watch his daughters (freshman Ciera and seventh grader Cydney) play basketball.

Before he knew former girls coach Dan Fairbank was planning to step down, Finberg was keeping an eye on the Columbia Falls schedules.

So, with the support of wife Angie, he applied when the job came open last spring.

"I was all for it because I'm a parent. My girls will play for him and I have confidence in him," Angie Finberg said.

"Ciera was for it - very much. But when we told Cydney, she was not," Angie said.

"I did want him to and I want to play for him. I'm excited about that," Cydney put in.

But she was worried about the possibility of Cary yelling at - or worse, cutting - her friends.

"That was a concern of mine, too. But if you get yelled at, you deserve it," Ciera said.

"They know I'm intense. But I'll pat them on the back when they deserve that, too. I want what's best for my players. Some players need a little prodding, some need a pat on the back," Finberg said.

"It's going good. It's a lot of time in a gym, but that's where I like to be," Finberg said of coaching both programs.

For those wondering, this isn't the first time a coach has taken on both programs.

Numerous coaches did both when the girls played in the fall. But only a couple others (that Finberg knows of) have done it during the same season. Paul Barta of Columbus is one, as is a coach from Big Sandy.

Finberg called Barta for advice. "He said ‘just approach them the same way. Treat them as athletes.'"

And the family?

Angie Finberg pointed out many families have demanding schedules.

"I don't notice a big difference yet, other than early morning and late night laundry," she said.

"It's definitely busy and it's not often we eat dinner together," she said.

"But we expected (a lot of hours). I don't notice it during the week. It's more the offseason that I notice it," she said.

"I think it's been a positive thing. I think he's really enjoyed it," she added.

For herself, she enjoys some alone time.

As for Ciera, the whole experience has been nothing but a positive.

"I'm so glad he did it. I know he's an intense coach. I wasn't sure which side I would see. Luckily it's turned out pretty well," Ciera said.

"It's been really different, a complete adjustment for both of us," she added.

"They both do a good job of not bringing it home," Angie said.

Ciera also likes that her friends are getting to know her dad.

The intense coach most fans see on the court? "That's not the guy I've grown up with. They don't see the little funny things he does," she smiled.

"He's so fun and laidback. It's nothing at all what some people see on the court. (At practice and on the bus) he lets that show a lot. It's nice for people to see he's not that guy," she added.

They did have to discuss what she would call him and settled pretty quickly on ‘Dad,' she said.

"Anything else would be weird," she said.

As for how long Finberg continues to coach both, or either, that's completely up in the air.

"The plan is to continue with the double season as long as it's feasible. Right now, I'm somewhat of a young guy. I'm energized by the time of year. I'm going to do it as long as coaching is enjoyable."

The scheduling has worked about as well as it possibly could. Early on, Finberg figured he would miss four games - two of each. Because of a last-minute scheduling change last weekend, it turned out he only missed three.

The coach credits Columbia Falls athletic director John Thompson and his assistants for the smoothness.

"My assistants have done a great job. The burden has kind of fallen on them at times," he said.

"I don't think (the boys) have noticed a change. I don't think there has been any adjustment on their part. They know what they're doing," he said.

One thing that did worry him going in - needlessly it turns out - was his own ability to move on mentally during the doubleheaders.

"That was easier than even I thought it was going to be. It's actually easier to deal with. It kind of puts that process off," he said.

He has seen some differences, but Finberg chalks those up more as the way different athletes react, rather than boys and girls.

"I think the biggest thing is the boys know what to expect. I think it took the girls awhile to adjust. The first part of the year was a learning process. But they've improved and we're seeing the girls play more like the team that I want them to become," he said.

"It's a good group of girls. They've worked hard.

"Basketball is basketball. Once the girls understood the way I do things and the expectation ... everything is new to them. When things happen, the boys know why. The girls have questions," he said.

"But we are laying the foundation. So far, so good this year."

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