John Chernick returns to the helm at Plano

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When John Chernick was Plano’s girls basketball coach in 2007 and 2008, it all became too much for him.

He was an assistant coach on the football team, which was in the midst of back-to-back Class 3A state championships. That forced Chernick to miss the beginning of the basketball season. He also had young children at home.

“After two years, I just realized that it was getting overwhelming to me,” Chernick said. “So I just stepped down completely from basketball at that point.”

Three years ago, he got back into the program as a junior varsity coach under Mario Serra.

Last November, Chernick stepped down from his football duties and a few months later, Serra told him that he wasn’t coming back after six years at the helm.

Suddenly, Chernick finds himself back as Plano’s girls varsity basketball coach.

“After some soul searching and really thinking about it, I may have one last opportunity if I want it,” the 44-year-old Chernick said. “So why not. I’m excited for the opportunity. With my summers and falls freed up (not coaching football), I thought this was the right time to do it.”

This will mark the 18th year that Chernick has been involved in the Reapers’ girls basketball program. He’s been a teacher at Plano for 23 years. This will be his first year not coaching football in a decade.

Chernick ran the Reapers’ summer program in June and was encouraged with the way Serra left the program.

“I think we’ve got the program in a really good spot right now,” Chernick said. “We had 15 or 16 freshmen last year. We’re hoping to continue that. Really, that’s the key for us, getting girls out.

“There were a few years where we really struggled to put a varsity, sophomore and freshman team together. I feel good about where we’re at. I think Mario should get a lot of the credit for that.”

The varsity team had success the past couple of seasons behind shot-blocking center Clarisa Martinez. She has graduated, however, and taken her domination of the paint with her. That will make for a different looking Reapers team this winter.

“We’re not big,” Chernick said. “We don’t have anyone at six feet. But we are athletic. I think that if we can be fundamentally sound and get up and down the floor and pressure teams a little bit, I think we can be exciting to watch. We’re deep. I think we can put anywhere between 12 and 15 girls on the floor that are capable of playing varsity basketball. Athletically, I think we’re just as good as about anybody.”

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