Alex Stam honed her basketball skills and knowledge by playing for — and coaching under — a pair of legendary hoops skippers.
In her prep days, the West Chester native and Cardinal O’Hara grad played under 500-game winner Linus McGinty. In college, Stam played at Millersville University under 600-game winner Mary Fleig, and she’s spent the last two seasons serving as an assistant on Fleig’s staff for the Marauders.
Now she has a program of her own. Stam recently gained school board approval to become Octorara’s girls basketball coach. She succeeds Scott Forman, who stepped down after serving as the Braves’ skipper the last four seasons — the last two in Octorara’s first spin around the L-L League.
“First and foremost, I love Millersville,” Stam said. “I got to play there and I got to coach there, and as an assistant you try and gain as much knowledge as possible, and I was able to do that. And when you do that, certainly you want to be a head coach someday.”
That time is now. Stam is the second new head coach in L-L League girls basketball circles this offseason; Will Wenninger is back at Cedar Crest for his second stint with the Falcons.
Stam had a successful prep career playing under McGinty at Cardinal O’Hara in Springfield, Delaware County. She was a team captain in her senior season, when O’Hara went 12-0 in Philadelphia Catholic League regular-season action. She earned All-Delco and all-Catholic League honors that season.
In her freshman year, Stam helped O’Hara go 27-3 and reach the PIAA Class 4A state championship game, where the Lions fell to Mt. Lebanon. Stam earned All-Delco honors in her ninth-grade campaign, helping O’Hara win the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona, the District 12 title, and earn a USA Today national ranking on the way to the state finals.
Stam appeared in 90 games for Millersville, averaging 5.2 points with 73 3-pointers in her Marauders’ career. She was a two-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete Award winner — Stam earned a degree in secondary education — and she began her coaching career as an assistant at Division II Virginia-Wise. Stam returned to Millersville as an assistant coach under Fleig prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
Now she has the keys to Octorara’s program.
“I’m eager and I’m excited,” Stam said. “I want to create a team that will be able to compete in the L-L League. I’m very familiar with the L-L League from recruiting in this area the last couple of years. It’s a very competitive league, and our section will be very competitive, so there will be some challenges. But I know these girls will go at it head-on with me, so I’m super excited.”
Octorara had a bumpy first two seasons as full-time L-L League members, but started turning the corner this past winter. The Braves went 0-13 in league play and 0-22 in the 2018-19 campaign, but broke through with a pair of victories this past season: A crossover league win against Garden Spot to snap their losing skid, and then a late-season nonleague victory against Upper Perkiomen to hit the offseason with some momentum.
After coming over from the Ches-Mount League, Octorara spent its first two L-L League seasons parked in Section Four, which featured longtime playoff combatants like Lancaster Catholic, Northern Lebanon and Elco.
The Braves will spend the next two-year cycle in Section Five; Octorara asked the L-L if it could slide down a section while it continues to retool in its new surroundings, and the league obliged. That will be for the girls team only; Octorara’s boys squad will remain in Section Four for the next two-year cycle.
Stam is set to inherit a squad with some experience; the Braves lost just three seniors to graduation, and rising senior Andrea Middleton (4.1 points, 6 3-pointers last season) and rising junior Jasyah James (7.1 points, 10 3-pointers) are both due back — along with 11 other rising juniors and another pair of rising seniors.
“It’s a great group of girls who are eager to learn, on and off the court,” Stam said. “My job now is to develop a program for the school district as a whole, K through 12. My focus obviously will be grades 9 through 12. But I want to create a program that will develop these kids from a young age, so when they come up, they’re ready to play at the high school level.”