Ohlsen returns to PHS as girls head coach
Ed Ohlson is no stranger to a basketball court. He’s served as the head coach at Northampton and held assistant coaching duties at Bethlehem Catholic, Central Catholic, Dieruff, Liberty, Parkland and Salisbury. When he looks out on a basketball court, he’s used to seeing young men run up and down the court, playing an athletic, up-tempo style. After all, he’s only ever coached boys high school basketball, including serving under Rich Fatzinger at Parkland where he was part of the staff on the 2004 team that went to the PIAA Class 4A championship game. That team had his son, Eddie Ohlson, as a player and the current Parkland boys team has Eddie as an assistant coach under Andy Stephens.
So, what made Ohlson decide to return to the head coaching ranks, this time as a girls coach?
“Coaching for me right now is about whether I can have a positive impact on the young people that I’m coaching. It doesn’t matter what school or whether it’s boys or girls, high school or little kids, I’ve coached every level,” said Ohlson with a friendly smile.
Ohlson interviewed for the job and admitted that he had never seen a Parkland girls basketball game. He asked Parkland for video of the team so he could brush up on what they were doing and who some of their players were. Now, with the season coming up, Ohlson has watched every Parkland girls game from the past two seasons and knows this team and its players pretty well.
The job opened up when Wes Spence, who had coached nine seasons at Parkland, leading the team to a winning record in every one of those seasons, surprised many people by stepping down last spring. It didn’t take long for Ohlson to realize just how well Spence had coached his players and the legacy that he left behind.
“Wes did a tremendous job,” said Ohlson, who kept on Spence’s assistant coaches. “These girls pick up everything very quickly, which means that he did a great job with these girls. I haven’t had to change anything I’ve done with any team to coach these girls and they’ve answered the bell every time. It’s a pleasure coaching them and with the staff that I have, I have great people around me, which takes a load off of me.”
The final reason that Ohlson went after the Parkland job was that he sought and received the blessing of his bosses at Dunn and Bradstreet, who agreed to work around his coaching schedule to allow him to do both jobs.
For the players, losing a well-respected coach like Spence wasn’t easy. It could have thrown them too, knowing that the new guy had never coached a girls team. Instead, they quickly bought into Ohlson as their coach. They also bought into the changes that he brought to the team.
“It was kind of a curveball coming for my senior year, but I think we took it as a new opportunity,” said Kassidy Stout. “It’s kind of a clean slate this season and we’re excited about transitioning and we’ve taken a positive approach to it.
“He’s never coached a girls team, so we also saw that as a positive because every team wants to play like the guys play, with that quick pace. He’s been doing great and we love what he’s been running.”
After a recent practice less than two weeks before opening night, the session was long over and girls were still on the court working on foul shots, passing, dribbling and other fundamentals.
“This is what I love,” said Ohlson with a big grin. “These girls could be home already and instead, they’re working things with each other and putting in the extra work that it takes.”