Pollock hopes to revive Elmwood girls basketball programAfter retiring from coaching three seasons ago, John Pollock, one of the winningest coaches in Wisconsin prep girls basketball history, is planning to return to the game, coaching Elmwood next season.
By: Sean Scallon, Pierce County Herald
When it came to retirement, John Pollock said it came down to making a decision.
“As you know, it gets pretty cold around here during the winter,” Pollock said. “And for me, it came down to a choice of spending the winter in Florida or coaching. So I decided to get back into coaching.”
Pollock certainly hopes the gyms on cold Wisconsin winter nights will be warm enough for his return to coaching as he will take over the Elmwood High School girls program after spending the past three seasons in retirement.
Certainly Raiders are hoping Pollock’s track record will be warm enough melt the ice around their program. Last year the Raiders finished 2-19 overall, their worst record in eight years. Elmwood has not had a winning season since 2006 and has found it tough competing as one of the smallest schools in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.
But competing against big schools is on Pollock’s resume. He made the Durand program one the best in the state for medium-sized schools competing against River Falls, New Richmond and Hudson in the Middle Border Conference. He has an overall record of 482-134. He’s been the coach of 16 MBC-title winning teams while coaching the Panthers to nine sectional titles as well. He led Durand to back-to-back Class B state championships in 1986 and 1987.
“Elmwood is in a similar situation in Dunn-St. Croix as Durand is in the Middle Border,” Pollock said. “What’s different is, at Durand, I was starting from scratch while Elmwood has an established program and right now it’s down. When you only win two games and get beat badly when you do lose there’s not a lot of enthusiasm around the program.”
Pollock said his first task as coach is to revive the program’s spirit. His very presence given all that he’s accomplished in the sport could very well do this.
“You need to create enthusiasm first,” Pollock said, “because enthusiasm is what gets the girls’ to play hard every night and is brings their friends out for the sport. That’s what produces a program. You have success and it brings more attention to you. The school has a long tradition of success in softball competing against bigger schools. There’s no reason why the same can’t be true in basketball.”
Pollock retired from teaching the same year he stepped down as girls’ basketball coach in Durand. But he didn’t stop coaching altogether as he joined with fellow retiree Pete Adler on the Plum City high school football coaching staff. Pollock said it’s been a lot of fun.
“It’s a lot less stress that’s for sure,” Pollock said. “Coaching has become a fulltime job. It’s more work that cuts into your family time and other things that you want to do. I’ve found with coaching football at Plum City that not having teaching duties made things easier and more enjoyable.”
If less stress makes coaching more enjoyable, Pollock hopes that it will also make him more patient.
“I will need to be more patient as coach because things aren’t going to turnaround overnight. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Pollock said. “I talk about bringing enthusiasm to the program but we also need to bring a competitive spirit as well so that the girls believe no matter who they play, they will compete with them. Then we can build from there.”
Pollock said he doesn’t feel any different about himself or the game starting again at Elmwood than he did when he first began at Durand.
“I enjoy the game for the same reasons,” Pollack said. “I enjoy it because it’s is a team game where individual parts don’t always have to add up to the whole. It’s a game where teamwork and chemistry can make a team better than the sum of its parts. To me, that’s the fun part of basketball and I feel I have the energy to coach this sport once again.”
Pollock also said he intends to coach on the Plum City football staff this coming fall as well.