Annette Olenchick made a successful return to the court Friday night, guiding Nitro to a season-opening 64-37 win at Lincoln County.
"It felt real good to be back on the bench,'' said the former Sissonville girls basketball coach. "I missed it.''
Olenchick stepped down from her head coaching position at Sissonville after the 2008-09 season. At the time she was juggling teaching and the head coaching duties of the softball program at the University of Charleston. She owns a 322-183 record as a prep basketball coach and won a Class AA state championship at Sissonville in 2001.
Olenchick resigned her position at UC in May and for the first time in 23 years didn't have a team to prepare. Nitro athletic director Steve Pritchard gave Olenchick a call in late October about taking over the Wildcats, who have won eight games combined the past two seasons.
"I felt comfortable with the administration and their support for their coaches and I said why not,'' said Olenchick. "I couldn't see myself not coaching. I'm one of those types of people who enjoy the challenge.''
Olenchick brought in former DuPont and Riverside boys basketball coach Jim Fout as her assistant. Fout's most recent job was the women's head basketball coach at West Virginia University Tech.
"It was exciting,'' said Olenchick of the season opener. "I know Coach Fout and I both had that excitement. We're having a good time. We have a great group of girls.
"They have been great as far as accepting what Coach Fout and I have thrown at them. They don't complain and they really appreciated everything we've done. I think it was a good start Friday. I think that helped them even believe in it more.''
Nitro showed some promise with Savannah Shamblin, a 6-foot freshman, scoring 15 points and junior Kelli Douglas adding 17.
"I think we definitely can stay there and build a program,'' Olenchick said. "It's great to have players appreciate what you do.''
Capital opened with an impressive 59-54 win last week over Huntington, which was seventh in the Class AAA Associated Press preseason poll.
"The kids were real resilient and played really hard the entire game,'' said Cougars coach B.J. Calabrese.
"The kids are playing with some confidence and feeling real good about themselves right now. After GW [on Monday] we've got some teams there that we've played real competitive with the last few years.''
Capital has won just nine games the past two seasons.