By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Union made it to the state tournament in girls basketball last year for the first time in a long time.
That can be traced back to the transformation under the coaching of Joe Redmond, now in his third season at the helm.
“I think it was surreal for us because none of us had ever made it to a state tournament before,” said Mae Redmond, daughter of the coach. “We were the underdogs and it was a surprise to everyone that we made it as far as we did. We were proud of ourselves. Nobody believed we could do it.”
The younger Redmond, a senior guard who has played basketball her whole life, is a key part of the team’s leadership. As of Jan. 30, she led Union in 3-point field goal percentage as the team posted a 13-3 record and a No. 6 ranking in the Class 6A girls poll. Included among the wins was a 70-53 win against No. 1 Booker T. Washington.
When her teammates need something, she is usually the go-to person.
“It’s more like I’m the messenger,” she said. “I feel like my teammates, if they don’t feel comfortable talking about something, I’ll just do it for them or if we need to get things done, they’ll just come to me and I’ll direct them. I’m like the middle person I guess you can say,” she added with laughter.”
Also a soccer player, she enjoys the team and community element of basketball
“It is a good motivator for everyone,” she said. “It gives you a reason to want to come to school everyday. It’s something to look forward to after school and playing with your friends and seeing them everyday is just a really good opportunity.”
Mae Redmond received coaching from her dad when she was younger and playing for AAU and intramural leagues.
“He was never originally supposed to be my coach, but as the season went on, he would always end up coaching me, no matter what sport it was, whether it was basketball or soccer,” she said.
After attending Union from fifth through eighth grade, Redmond attended BTW as a freshman where her father was head coach of the boys team.
She returned to Union her sophomore season when he took the girls coaching job.
“My sophomore year was a big transition for both him and us because he never coached girls before and his coaching style was different than what we’re used to,” Mae Redmond said. “So it was just an adjustment.
“We were trying to fit in with my dad and learning how to play together as a team rather than individually. That was a year of growth,” she said. “Once we came together and wanted to win as a team. It was no longer like ‘I want to get my points,’ it was more ‘I want to do something that’s going to help my teammates’ and I think that’s really what has made us a better team.”
The dividends came when Union made the state tourney in Coach Redmond’s second season last year. But they didn’t go as far as they wanted to go, falling to eventual runner-up Norman North in the opening round.
“Ever since our last game last year, we have been doing everything we can to get better. After our loss in the first round of the state tournament, we realized there is more we can do to get better. We also know there are always teams out there that are working just as hard as you, so you just have to work even harder to get farther,” Redmond said.
“I think the only people that are standing in our way is us,” she added. “If we focus on winning and not let outside things distract us, we should go far.”