Nystrom takes over as L&G boys’ basketball coach

TOWNSHEND — After spending two seasons as an assistant to head coach Phil Davis, Andy Nystrom will be taking the reins of Leland & Gray's boys' basketball program this season.

Nystrom, who lives in Newfane, owns the Wardsboro Store and Snow Mountain Market, and is also a postal carrier in Wardsboro. He played basketball for Leland & Gray in the 1990s along side two 1,000-point scorers, Kevin Cobb and Matt Moore.

After college, he returned to Leland & Gray to assist head coach Bob Tebow through the 2003-2005 seasons on teams that featured another two 1,000-point scorers, Josh Druke and Myles Felker. This powerful team made it to the Division III state final against Arlington in 2003, but lost 60-59.

That was the last time the Rebels had gone to the state championship game.

After assisting two recent seasons without the Rebels making it past the semifinals, Nystrom wanted to step up and take the position as head coach.

“I love the game, and I bleed green and white. It's a huge time commitment, especially with having your own business and all, but it came down to the kids and giving them a special season. It'll be a smooth transition for both them and me.”

One reason Nystrom said he thinks it will be a smooth transition is the number of players returning from last season.

“There's a lot of returning skill, but anything can look good on paper,” he said. “We're going to have to put in the time and work hard. I think we can have a good season. The point guard spot is still up in the air, but we'll iron that out soon enough.”

Among his many priorities, the biggest is consistency.

“I let the kids set their goals. I think we'll take it a day at time. [The biggest priority is] to be consistent and win the games that we're supposed to. We need to play better against weaker opponents by playing hard and not taking anyone for granted.”

Nystrom said he's a defense-oriented coach, because that's what he taught when Davis was coaching.

“It sounds cliché, but defense wins games and championships. We won [games in] the last two seasons, because we could play good defense and stop teams. Not everyone has a natural ability on offense, but anyone can play defense.”

Leland & Gray Athletic Director Marty Testo estimated that 30 to 40 boys would attend tryouts later this month.

“I anticipate that there's going to be a lot of kids and I think we'll have to make some cuts,” Nystrom said. “My philosophy is that it is part of growing up and a part of life. I'm certainly sensitive to kids' feelings and we'll handle it in a professional way. I think 12 to 13 players is enough for me.”

Nystrom is tackling the season solo thus far, but is still looking for an assistant coach.

“I've had a lot of people interested in making some guest appearances,” he said, “but I haven't found anyone willing to be the assistant coach.”

No matter who ends up on the team, Nystrom says he's making this vow to the Leland & Gray community.

“[I promise to the community that] we will give everything we can every night. We'll work as hard as we can and no matter what the outcome is, we will respect the officials, the other team, and their school. We'll play the right way. We will both win with dignity, and lose with dignity. We will give 100 percent effort night in and night out.”

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