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Girls follow in Erickson’s footsteps

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Kelly Santorilla attends basketball practice with her team in tow.

The gym has become like a home from home for her son Vince, 6, and daughter Sloane, 4, as their mom helps coach the Traverse City St. Francis women’s basketball program.

Squeaky sneakers and bouncing balls, however, aren’t the only echoes of those sessions, as Kelly recalls a time when she and baby sister Katie accompanied their father, Todd Erickson, as he led workouts between. girls at Manistee Catholic Central.

“Bringing my own kids to the gym now has been really special,” Kelly said. “I think I have a few gym rats on my hands, just like my dad did when we went to his practices and games.

“My kids love to be a part of it,” she said, “so I guess the cycle has started again.”

First taking the reins of college in 1992, Todd has already cemented his legacy as coach of the Saber Girls and still leads the team today.

He has impacted countless lives that have followed the program as players over the years and in doing so left traces that his two daughters are now following: Kelly as an assistant coach at TC St. Francis and Katie in the same role in Lake. Michigan Catholic of St. Joseph.

“Both want it done right,” Todd said. “I’ve always said that the little things matter the most because they’ll snowball into the big picture.

“They’ve always understood what it means. And they’re both very good at the details.”

FROM DIAPERS TO SWIMSUITS

Todd’s tenure with Manistee Catholic Central goes back further than his college days, as he coached a number of young Saber teams starting in 1983.

His wife, Jan, was also a youth coach, so basketball was just part of the family fabric.

“My parents always said I was in the gym in diapers,” Katie said, “so I guess it’s right in my blood.”

“We’re basically a basketball family,” Kelly added. “My mom coached me in elementary while my dad took over the college program. My dad had a pretty good team.

“I’ve always been there, and I’m still here,” she said. “When I get home, I’ll go to my dad’s practice and help work with the girls.

“I even love the smell of Manistee Catholic gymnasium. There is nothing like it.”

From layers to jerseys, Kelly and Katie have finally played for their dad on some of his most successful teams, among many over the years.

In 1999 – Kelly’s junior season – the Sabers reached the top of the program to date by reaching the Final Four. In 2000, they reached the quarterfinals.

“It’s been 20 years, but it’s like it was yesterday,” Kelly said. “I remember the team dinners, the trips, it was so much fun. That’s why I want to someday be able to do it with the teams I work with. I want these girls to carry those kinds of experiences with it. they.”

As an eighth and ninth grader who rose to the college roster during these in-depth tournaments, Katie treasures those memories as well.

“I was on JV, but when we went to the Final Four – this whole road trip – was special,” she said. “It will definitely be a memory that I always have.”

Todd jokes about the stark contrast between his daughters as players.

“They both did really well,” he said, “Kelly was a very complete team player.… She never forced anything and made sure everyone was involved and working. hard.

“Katie, on the other hand, would display a 6’2 girl and demand the ball,” he said with a laugh. “She didn’t care. She was going after you. When the ball went up in the air, her playing face was on. That’s how she was.

“We had a lot of fun. It might be a little challenge to train your own kids, but it’s a beautiful thing to look back on, because you can tell you did.”

And all three of them agreed: Todd was the coach, and Kelly and Katie were players.

“They never called me daddy during practices or games,” Todd recalls. “They called me a coach like everyone else. That’s not what I asked for, they just did. They were players on the team.”

“He treated us all equally,” Katie said. “On the contrary, I probably put more pressure on myself as the coach’s daughter.”

“We didn’t expect and don’t want special treatment,” Kelly said. “But we worked so hard for him. I think he instilled that in us, because we saw the teams before us working so hard and winning district championships and things like that, and we wanted to be a part of that too. . “

FROM COACH TO COACH

The apples haven’t fallen too far from the tree, and now the three coaches are helping each other over the course of a season.

“We definitely talk a lot about basketball now,” Todd said. “They sometimes call me, ‘Daddy, what did we do in this situation? Or,’ What was this play we were playing? ‘

“I also get, ‘Daddy, I don’t know how you put up with high school girls all these years,'” he added, laughing. “I told them both: I learned early on that you have to adapt to the team you have. When you understand that, the game becomes easier for the kids and they will produce no matter what. come.

“If you have a group that can perform plays on the fly, then do it,” he said. “But if you’ve got a group that’s struggling to make those quick changes, you have to keep it simpler.

“The better they understand what you’re doing, the better they’ll play – that’s what I’ve always thought – so you adjust to that as a coach.”

Kelly and Katie are now carving out their own coaching careers, but their father’s lessons are an integral part of their approach.

“He’s very patient,” Katie said. “Sometimes I wonder – just thinking about how I was when I played for him with my friends – how did he sometimes do?

“He has this attitude of himself that resonates with girls, in particular,” she said. “You have to have discipline, obviously, but his patience, humility and focus on the fundamentals have certainly played a role in how I help coach and advise these players now.”

Kelly agreed.

“He’s always so positive as a coach, and he never gave it up,” she said. “He never screamed. He has high expectations for them, and he pushes them, but he never looked down on girls in any way.

“He wants them to be the best they can be, and I try to take that into my own training,” she added. “It’s crazy to think of how many lives he’s been able to positively impact, and that obviously had a big influence on me.

“We were constantly in the gym with him and wanted to be there. I guess it’s something that doesn’t really leave you.”

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