By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Monday’s practice marked Salem Academy’s Derek Imig return to the Crusaders Girls Basketball program.
The 2002 Salem Academy graduate had been part of the Crusader program prior four years prior in the late 2000’s, helping guide the Crusaders to the 2008 State Championship and a third-place finish in 2010 and a fourth-place finish in 2007 before making the move to Corban for three seasons after departing the program.
Over the past six years, Imig has been an assistant at Blanchet Catholic and played a part in turning the Cavaliers into a perennial 3A power capped by the 2017 State Championship and Top 3 finishes the last two seasons.
“It’s kind of a thrill because I graduated from Salem Academy and coached here for four years before, so it’s good to come home,” said Imig. “I know the legacy that they built over the last six years especially, but even before that too. So we’re going to come out and work hard. Try to achieve our maximum potential and see where it takes us.”
Fulfilling this teams potential will be important entering the 2019-2020 season. Being a young teams after losing some big names in recent years, returners like Chole Baker, Kayla Bauldree, Audrey Smith and Annabelle Brawley who have been apart of SA’s success the past few years will help turn the page from the Ben Brown-era to the Imig-era this season.
“Coming in and learning a new system, there’s going to be a little extra work and a little extra mental focus taken in,” starts Imig. “But on every night, if we go 110-percent, we’re going to win some ball games.
“We may be unproven and young a little bit, but there is skill there. If they put in the hard work to learn the new system. Just working as hard as they can every single day, we’re going to win a lot of ball games that way.”
Salem Academy opens the season December 4 against Oregon Episcopal before going to the Westside Winter Jam between December 5 and 7.