2006-12-01 / Sports

Kander Brings His Whistle From Football To Hardcourt

By Elio Velez

The search was far and wide for Beach Channel High School Athletic Director Victor Nazario to find a girls' varsity basketball coach.

Nazario was the coach last season but his time devoted to his new duties as athletic director was the reason he stepped down.

A few names that were considered for the position fell by the wayside. Nazario, who is also the varsity football coach, was guiding his team through a practice in early November when he saw a potential candidate on the same field. Across the other end of the football field, junior varsity coach Craig Kander was preparing for his troops for a game as well. Nazario approached the second year JV football coach after practice had concluded Kander recalls.

"He came up and said how come I never thought of you to do it. I said I didn't know," Kander, who has won 11 out of 16 football games in two years, said. "He said are you interested. I said yeah and I took over the job. Everything is going well. It's a lot of work but I have a good outlook this season."

The sport of basketball is very familiar for Kander, who played at Xaverian High School and three years in college with Mount Saint Vincent. Knee injuries in high school and college unfortunately robbed him of playing time. In his junior year of high school, Kander blew out the ACL and MCL in his right knee and suffered the exact injuries in college to his left knee. So he moved onto coaching, which he has gained experience in camps and with the sixth, seventh and eight grade boys' basketball teams at St. Francis de Sales a few years ago. It's an adjustment he says to now coaching high school girls rather than the younger girls he instructed during the camps.

The adjustment though he says has been eased by the Dolphins players' willingness to help him get comfortable to coach in the high school level. Kander scheduled a lot of practices in the few weeks since he's assumed the job, practicing except for Thanksgiving Day, just to install the new plays. "I was nervous coming here. I've heard things might be tough but I feel that we can win some games and be better than most people expected." The competition is about to get intense as the PSAL's realignment moved Beach Channel to the new "AA" League. Playing teams like Francis Lewis, Cardozo and August Martin is old hat by now. Traveling to Brooklyn to play Grand Street Campus, Midwood and Lincoln in the regular season will be a new experience.

The Dolphins will be helped by their three returning senior starters who were instrumental in guiding the Dolphins to their second straight playoff appearance in the PSAL Queens A division last season.. Jolly has been a dynamic and hard working point guard who scored 13 points a game and dished six assists. Cynthia Wolfe averaged a double-double in scoring and rebounding and Tanya Nelson's 15 points per game led the team. Sophomores Christina Salinas and Precious Hills are expected to continue their improvement in the starting lineup.

Beach Channel started the season with back to back games on November 29th against Francis Lewis and Canarsie on the road. They'll be home on Wednesday, December 6 against August Martin at 5 p.m.

"Coach (Nazario) told me we would be in a tough division. I talked to the girls about it. I'm going to prepare them the best I can every week to compete. We might get blown out some nights but we have some talented kids on this team so we should compete against most of the teams and have a chance to win," Kander said.

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