WILDWOOD CREST - As Stephanie Gaitley coached at different schools throughout the college ranks, there was one thing she learned while growing up in Ocean City that she never forgot.
Even with eight children, her parents - Harry and Marty Vanderslice - made it known that no matter how much success you have or how far you go, it's important to give back.
Gaitley was at the Wildwood Crest Recreation Center on Saturday to take part in the Wildwood Basketball Coaches Clinic, which was specifically for women's and girls coaches, making it one of the few clinics of its kind.
"It's exciting to see the game grow like this and talk to people who are as passionate about the sport," said Gaitley, 51, who lives in King of Prussia, Pa., but still visits her mother in Ocean City. "It was always important to my family to help others, and that's something that has stayed with me."
Gaitley was able to lend her expertise on defense to the group of about 30 coaches ranging from the middle school to college ranks. She has been coaching for 25 years and has a 464-270 record in that span.
Gaitley was named coach at Fordham University on April 1.
She left the same position at Monmouth University to take over the Rams, who were 12-19 last year.
She has just five returning players but 10 incoming ones she is eager to look at, including three from Monmouth.
"It's great to come full-circle and be in the Atlantic 10 (Conference) again," said Gaitley, who coached for 10 years at Saint Joseph's University and had five 10-win seasons. "I feel like I left Monmouth better than when I got there. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Gaitley said she wished she had these types of clinics around when she was younger, but it didn't seem as though she needed much help when she played for Ocean City High School. Her team went 100-0 in the Cape-Atlantic League from 1974-1978 under coach Pat Dougherty.
Gaitley has attended and spoke at these types of clinics in the past, but too often the bulk of the speakers or audience weren't interested in certain aspects of the game that were unique to women.
However, Gaitley has seen the women's game grow over the last several years, and more and more people want to learn. This clinic, organized by Paul Rieser and Kevin Kretschy of the group Hoop Mountain, is an example of that.
Rieser and Kretschy, who have coached girls teams, saw a need to have a clinic dedicated to just women's and girls coaches as they heard how different men's coaches taught the game.
"Men's coaches talk about attacking the rim. Women's coaches talk about attacking the basket," Kretschy said. "There is a big difference, and we're trying to create something here for girls coaches."
They brought in seven Division I basketball coaches and Joe Fussner of D-III Richard Stockton College to talk about different aspects of the game.
None of the coaches ever talked about dunking.
The speakers included Penn State assistant Fred Chmiel, St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico, Saint Joseph's assistant Chris Day, Pittsburgh assistant Pat Coyle, Colgate coach Nicci Hays Fort and St. Francis (Pa.) coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl. Each attendee paid $105 for the two-day clinic.
Hoop Mountain is set to come back next year during the same weekend and will expand the clinic to three days and have more than 10 college coaches.
"In the men's game, often it's the team that is more athletic that can win a game," Rieser said. "For girls, the team that is most fundamentally sound is going to pull it out. There is a difference in the games and we wanted to show that here."
Cumberland County College women's basketball coach Steve Kaneshiki was one of the attendees. He sat in the bleachers of the gym at the rec center and took notes.
He also asked questions to get a better understanding of how some of the coaches run their practices.
"There aren't a whole lot of clinics out there like this one, especially in South Jersey," said Kaneshiki, 36, of Bridgeton. "All the coaches were very open and welcoming. They want to see the game grow and have no problem talking to you about their plays or how they do things."
Most of the coaches offered the attendees opportunities to come watch practices next winter.
Many have open practices and are willing to take time out to help out other coaches, whether it be with a phone call or an email.
These coaches only had one goal in mind - to see women's basketball grow.
"I think there is a point where basketball is basketball," said Hayes Fort, who took over at Colgate at the start of the month. "But there are things to emphasize about the women's game that can really help people out. I was really excited they put this together."
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