Eric Girola eager to guide Lady Bobcats hoops program

Published 12:28 am Saturday, June 4, 2022

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ORANGEFIELD – There will be a new coach running the ship of the proud, tradition-rich Orangefield girls basketball program.

Eric Girola was named the head coach and Girls Athletic Coordinator early this Spring, and he is thrilled to get to work at Orangefield.

“It’s been great so far, the school district and the community has welcomed me with open arms,” said Girola. “It’s a community that supports the game and you gotta love that.”

Girola, who had a great run at Buna High School, is replacing long-time head coach Jennifer Willis, who left the education and coaching ranks after last season ended.

Girola notched a 258-119 record in Buna.

“I had some awesome years at Buna and was fortunate to work with some great people there over the years too,” said Girola. “There are so many similarities between the two schools. They are both smaller schools and both are tight-knit communities. Plus, both schools carry excellent basketball traditions. We played Orangefield quite a bit while I was at Buna and both have great fan bases.”

Girola has been busy working his first Bobcat Basketball Camp. The camp has drawn right at 100 kids, it’s largest turnout ever.

They have had to use the main Bobcat Gym and the Old Bobcat Gym, which a lot of people affectionately call the “Bill Tennison Hot Box” after the legendary Lady Bobcat coach. There is basically not much air circulating in the famous gym.

So which gym was Girola in? In the old gym, instructing third and fourth graders.

“Of course, that’s where they put the ‘rookie’ coach,” laughed Girola. “All kidding aside, I love it here. I know there is plenty of talent here at Orangefield and the future always looks bright with all the interest young kids here have in the game. My goal, is to not screw it up.”

“We got a great coach with a proven track record of winning, but more importantly than that, he is a person of high character and integrity,” said Orangefield Athletic Director Josh Smalley.

“We are excited to have Coach Girola lead our Lady Bobcats basketball program.”