The Celtic Way: Roanoke Catholic girls return to state semifinals

Celtics will playin in the VISAA DIII State Semifinals Friday night

Roanoke Catholic Girls Basketball team practicing (WSLS)

ROANOKE, Va. – Among our area high school teams competing in state tournament hoops action are the Roanoke Catholic girls. Helping the team reach the VISAA DIII state semifinals for the first time in over a decade, has been a first year coach but a familiar face in the Star City.

Ryann Hubbard is in his first year as a head coach at Roanoke Catholic but he’s no stranger to the sidelines. He spent years as an assistant under his older brother Champ at William Fleming. While coaching at their alma mater, the duo developed a champion brand and mindset. Now, with their former player Myesha Logan on staff as an assistant, the goal has been to bring their expertise to “The Hill” to a team with just three seniors.

“It’s a different culture here now,” said Hubbard. “They had to really understand what we were expecting. It’s been a learning process for me.”

While the team went through a five game losing streak in the beginning of the season, Hubbard credits his team for never giving up.

“We had to really teach them everything, just a lot of the basics. They had to really trust what we were teaching. We started off with a really tough schedule and any time you’re losing, you begin to question everything. But, they never really questioned what we were teaching.”

“The first few games, the chemistry just wasn’t there yet,” said senior point guard Meg Hemphill. “But now, we completely trust them with everything and they trust us and so building trust and connection has been a big thing.”

Hubbard agrees.

“Things just started clicking and after repeating things over and over they started to understand what we expected. We’re giving them the knowledge and techniques and they’re executing everything on their own. It’s been a beautiful process like seeing a flower grow. That’s all we’re about: if you can do it to the best of your ability, we’re ok with that.”

Hubbard says he relied heavily on the expertise of his brother Champ and also his father to help guide and direct not only his coaching but his teaching abilities in his first year.

“We just want to teach and help everybody,” Hubbard added.

The Celtics have been led by a core of three seniors--Meg Hemphill, Alex Nance and Angela Drapac.

“I heard a lot about them, everybody knows the Hubbard’s in Roanoke,” Hemphill said. She remembers when the turnaround this season happened.

“It was like our first real win. I think it was against Grace Christian actually on Michael Jordan’s court. They’re known for their halftime speeches in the locker room and after that it was on from there,” Hemphill said.

“They are very intimidating because they want you to be your best but they are there for you to have fun,” Drapac added.

“Just give it your all,” said Nance. “If you give 100 percent effort, they’ll hype you up in the best way possible. They’ll respect it.”

Roanoke Catholic hits the floor at 9 p.m. on Friday night to take on St. Margaret’s at Benedictine College Prep in the VISAA DIII State Semifinals.

About the Author

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.

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