For 15 years, Len Farello sat alongside Frank Williams, totally satisfied with his position as Coolidge High School's assistant boys basketball coach. But when the likable Williams died last summer, Farello, who had just resigned after serving 15 years as baseball coach, was named head basketball coach.
"It's different. Instead of agreeing with decisions, I have to make the decisions," Farello said. "I wasn't that interested in being a head coach."
Farello said he would institute his predecessor's same basic philosophy while perhaps adding a wrinkle or two. Farello inherited a superb, well-balanced team and the Colts began the season with seven straight victories (4-0 in the Interhigh League). Their first loss came in a second round game of a tournament in Las Vegas Monday, 84-69, to Westchester (Los Angeles).
Coolidge established itself as the Interhigh's team to beat, having defeated highly-regarded rivals Spingarn, by 23 points, and Anacostia, by 13. The Colts also defeated Northern Virginia power Washington-Lee by 10 points in a scrimmage.
"I was lucky to inherit such a group -- like getting a million dollars. But, hey, this is Frank's team and his kids," Farello said. "He taught these kids and worked with them to get them to this point. This season is dedicated to him."
Williams would be proud of his players.Senior Donald Hodge, at 6 feet 10, finally is showing the promise, skill and leadership qualities Williams always said he would.
"Mr. Williams worked with me for two years and I owe him a lot," Hodge said after signing an early letter of intent to attend Temple University. "I want to play well for him."
The Colts have benefitted already from Hodge's new attitude. He was averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and a handful of steals and assists per game. He scored 33 points in the losing effort Monday.
Anthony Riley, Charles Hatcher and Derrick Price also are off to good starts.
"They are very talented and very tough to beat," Anacostia Coach Tom Hargrove said after his team's loss to the Colts. "Hodge is that big player in the middle and they play well together."
Farello realizes his players have talent, but he is only cautiously optimistic.
"We are going to go out and try to win as many as we can," he said.
Sidwell Friends and Georgetown Visitation enjoyed the most successful overall fall sports seasons in the Independent League.
Georgetown Visitation won the soccer championship by going undefeated and also took the cross country title. It finished in a three-way tie for second in tennis and placed fourth in field hockey.
Sidwell Friends won the tennis title, tied Foxcroft for first in volleyball, placed second in cross country, third in field hockey and fifth in soccer.
Named to the all-league soccer team were Georgetown Visitation's Carrie Babbington, Amy Fabrizio, Katie Kelly and Colleen McAndrew; Maret's Julie Fuchs, Perri Morgan and Nicole Manganaro; Holy Child's Betsy Hampton; Holton Arms' Lisa Miller, Leigh Ernst and Jill Karpa; Sidwell Friends' Cathy Lee; Immaculata's Babe Feeney, and National Cathedral's Rachel Schroeder and Carrie Beach.
Named to the tennis team were Sidwell Friends' Kristen Walton, Aubyn Boyer and Erika Atkeson; Holton Arms' Gigi Nealy and Debbie Andringa; Georgetown Visitation's Kathy Calhoun and Jennifer August; St. Agnes' Amy Lovin and Sabrina Gilmore; National Cathedral's Chien-ing Wu and Bullis' Jill Gimmel.