Staying somewhat within their ranks, Little Snake River Athletic Director Ann Wille has announced the hiring of Mark Gillies as the new head coach of the Rattlers girls’ basketball team.

Gillies has been a counselor at Little Snake River for the past four years. He has served as their head basketball coach for the junior high girls’ and boys’ teams the past two years.

To get the job, he said he’s thrilled.

“It was kind of a surprise when I heard Coach Stanley was retiring. I’m just really excited I got the opportunity to do it.”

Gillies believes the LSR program is in a good position to build upon.

“I’ve already coached the upcoming freshmen in the last two years, and they’re a really good group of girls, too. I think we just have a really good core of girls and should be to coach them these next few years.”

He is replacing a legend. Jodi Stanley retired this year after 35 seasons with the program. Gillies believes that’s the hardest part.

“Coach Stanley is just an incredible coach and just so knowledgeable. Coach Orchard did really well with her, too. Just being at Little Snake River, your standards of winning are always high, but coming with Coach Stanley, they’re really high coming off her. Expectations are high.”

The LSR girls finished the 2019-20 season with a 16-12 overall record. They won the 1A Consolation Championship at the state tournament and lost only two seniors.

The good piece he looks at is how fundamentally sound the players already are, and he feels she set the program up for success. Gillies just wants to build off that and still do his own thing. He confessed to going to Coach Stanley in the past and running ideas and questions by her.

“You just know how much knowledge she has and how good of a coach she really is.”

Stanley won over 500 games in her career at LSR and her teams made 23 appearances at the state tournament.

In his previous position as the junior high coach, Gillies feels it’s a positive for the program that he’s seen some of the players the Rattlers have coming up.

“We’ve built that coaching-player relationship with like half the team already. I kind of know the strengths and things we need to work with them. I’m going to build off what we did in junior high and just kind of expand on it.”

He added he’s joked with the principal and athletic director that the underclassmen are ahead in the offense compared to the juniors and seniors, and that doesn’t happen too often.

The style of play will have some differences versus what Little Snake has in the past.

“Coach Stanley’s always done her 1-3-1 (defense) and those girls run it really well, and we’ll do some of that, but we’ll run some man, as well. I like the fast pace. We’re going to get up and go (on offense). We’re going to build on some things Coach Stanley did but I’ve told the girls… it’s going to be different and that’s okay,” said Gillies.

Another benefit he said is his day-to-day position as a counselor has provided him a prior affiliation with girls on the team. Gillies admits it’ll be a different role for him. He referenced there will probably be more adjustment with him being a male coach versus a female coach they’re used to.

“My first year coaching junior high with the girls, you could kind of tell it was a little different for the girls having a male coach, but we broke through that barrier, and we had a lot of fun and a lot of success. I think that just gives me confidence too, that we’ll just come and we’ll just do our thing and get going.”

Gillies already knows the Rattlers play in a tough conference. He’s aware of the battles they’ve had with Cokeville, plus Saratoga, and Farson-Eden.

“That’s what makes it so fun. I think it’s going to be a fun year.”

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