Girls Basketball Preview: Coaching opportunity at FSK a natural fit for Nazelrod

Girls Basketball Preview: Coaching opportunity at FSK a natural fit for Nazelrod
Francis Scott Key's Emily Nazelrod is one of three new girls basketball coaches in Carroll County this season. (Bill Ryan / For the Carroll County Times)

Emily Nazelrod said her focus with the Francis Scott Key girls basketball team is all about defense and intensity this season.

The Eagles’ new coach is taking over for Jen Gosselin, who coached the Eagles for a decade prior to accepting the athletic director position at Winters Mill in March.


Nazelrod is no stranger to the basketball program at Key — she was the school’s freshman basketball coach for three years.

“At first I was like, ‘Can I handle it?’” Nazelrod said. “From freshman basketball where we just play county teams, it’s kind of like teaching elementary school, just basics and fundamentals to that whole next level up were definitely a shock for me. I got to coach them over the summer and I was hired back in March so I had a long time to think and research.

“Now that I met [the girls], and we’re going through practices, I feel like this is what I was meant to do and I feel a lot more comfortable now. It’s been a good transition.”

The 2007 Westminster High graduate played basketball for the Owls and attended Salisbury before returning to Carroll for a teaching position at Taneytown Elementary. Taneytown, a feeder school for Francis Scott Key, helped Nazelrod develop relationships with future Eagles and when the varsity coaching opportunity arose at Key, it seemed to be a natural fit.

Taking on this new responsibility excites Nazelrod, and she’s looking forward to building positive relationships with the Eagles. The team lost last year’s lone seniors, Korey Fine and Heather Rohwein to graduation, but return a talented group of girls that includes senior Joelle Snader and juniors Bailey Mathias and Kennedy Cornick.

Francis Scott Key's Sara Warthen goes in for a layup during practice Friday in Uniontown.
Francis Scott Key's Sara Warthen goes in for a layup during practice Friday in Uniontown. (Bill Ryan / For the Carroll County Times)

The Eagles will compete in Class 1A this season due to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association realignment. They are Carroll’s lone 1A school and compete in the West region that includes teams from Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties.

“So far, it’s great,” Nazelrod said. “We have really strong girls that just moved up and we only lost two, but the girls fit so nicely with what we have going. You would have thought they were on the same team last year as far as chemistry goes. They’re looking great and everything is starting to fit and they’re getting comfortable playing with one another.”

Nazelrod is not the only new coach who will pace the sidelines on the court this winter.

Heather Semies is taking over Century’s program for John Ingram who guided the Knights for the last two seasons. Shawn Minnier is handing over the coaching reigns to Dave Urban, his assistant at Westminster last season. Minnier said via email he is stepping back to spend more time with his family.

The Owls return first-team all-county forward Zoe Costley, who is the county’s second leading returning scorer this winter.

“I’m just really excited,” Nazelrod said. “Pushing that passion of having defensive game and a coach wants all heart and all hustle all the time. I just feel like that’s the philosophy we’re going with this year and I’m excited to get them more aggressive and really intense with everything they do.”

Manchester Valley is the two-time reigning county champion, and last winter the Mavericks went unbeaten before losing in the regional final. Mackenzie DeWees, Carroll's second leading scorer all-time, with 1,614 points, is back for her senior season as MV’s top guard.

The Mavericks went 12-0 against Carroll foes last season, followed by Westminster (9-3) and Winters Mill (7-5) as the only programs that finished above .500 in the county.