All the while their father Randy Stracner can’t stop smiling — this is exactly what the Cordova girls head basketball coach has envisioned for years.
The three Stracners are together on the same team for the first, and only, time this season, and the coach is enjoying every minute of every game.
Kelsey is a senior guard for the Blue Devils while younger sister Kennedy, a freshman, is an up and coming point guard. Randy Stracner is in his second season as the Cordova girls basketball coach after spending five years at Walker High School.
“It’s been interesting because through their whole lives our hope was that we would have this opportunity,” Randy Stracner said. “They have never been on any team together before. We had looked ahead. If they were old enough and they were still interested in playing, I was hoping I’d get the chance to coach them. If Kennedy was good enough to play on the varsity, she would get one year with Kelsey. Fortunately, it worked out.”
Randy has coached Kelsey the last four years, two years at Walker and two years at Cordova. Kennedy transferred to Cordova this year after playing at Maddox for the last two seasons.
“We’ve been talking about this forever. We never thought we would be at Cordova playing together,” Kelsey, 17, said. “We always thought it would be somewhere else, but I’m glad we are at Cordova so she would have a chance to be on the varsity team with me.”
“It’s been the best season I’ve ever had,” said Kennedy, 15. “We used to be separated and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them because we were always in different places playing ball. Now I get to spend time with them and play basketball.”
Though both girls don’t start for the Blue Devils — Kelsey is the starting two guard and Kennedy is the backup point guard — there have been instances where the sisters have shared the court.
“It’s been really cool that they both are out there and I get to be with them. A majority of coaches don’t get to experience this. You may get to coach one kid, but not two at the same time. We have a good relationship. They enjoy being around me and I enjoy being around them. It’s been really fun just to get to spend that time with them.”
Cordova has had an up and down season. The Blue Devils got off to a hot start, hit a lull around Christmas and have rebounded in the new year. The team is currently 14-11 heading into today’s key matchup against Carbon Hill in the Walker County Basketball Tournament.
In the Blue Devils’ tournament opener, a 57-17 victory over Parrish, Kelsey knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 17 points. Kennedy also saw a lot of playing time in the game.
Though the girls, whose mother Amy attends every game, play for the same team, it’s quite the opposite in practice.
“We always have two set teams in practice, a white team and a blue team. My sister and I are always on opposite teams guarding each other. We are getting after each other the whole time,” Kelsey said.
“We have had a blast. She’s my best friend. We have had so much fun and I think playing together has made us that much closer. We are having 10 times more fun and it’s one more thing in common that we can talk about.”
Kelsey admits that having her dad as her head coach was a little strange at first.
“When he would get on to me at practice I’d remember it when we got home and be like ‘Daddy, why did you yell at me?’ Since then, I understand that he’s trying to help me get better as a player. He can go from coach to dad real fast,” Kelsey said.
Kennedy is already getting used to the idea.
“I have to remember that he’s getting on to me as a coach, not my dad. It never comes off the court,” Kennedy said. “We try to get it all over with here so we don’t bring it home.”
Stracner has one rule regarding coaching his two daughters, and he admits that it’s a hard one to follow at times.
“I have one rule that I’ve made for myself,” Randy Stracner said. “When we leave the gym and we get in the car to head home, I try not to talk about the game. It’s one of the hardest things. I’m sitting there wanting to say something. The only way I talk about it is if they bring it up. I try to be positive and not dwell on the negative.”
With the season winding down, there are only a few more games that the three Stracners will be on the court together.
“Every time someone says something about it we start tearing up a little bit. I don’t even want to think about it,” Kelsey said.
“It’s going to be hard because we are like best friends,” Kennedy added. “We are so close. Other people can tell. People will say, ‘How are you and your sister so close? I fight with my sister all the time.’”
Following the Walker County Tournament, Cordova has just four more regular-season games on the schedule. From there only the area tournament and playoffs remain.
“It’s going to be sad when it’s over, but that’s just the way it is,” Randy Stracner said. “I’m trying to take the approach for the last part of the season that I’m just going to enjoy it.”