Everybody Loves Coach Kruse

Former Liberty girls basketball player Coach Savannah Kruse comes back to her alma mater to teach the game she loves

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Sruthi Ramesh

Coach Kruse puts in a game plan during a time-out.

Ally Schniepp, Sports Editor

Savannah Kruse left her mark on Liberty as a student, a basketball player, and an amazing athlete. The LHS alum returned this year to leave her mark once again on the school, but now as a coach, to teach the players how to dominate on the same court she used to play on. 

“Playing at Liberty was always so fun,” Kruse said. “The coolest part to me is that Coach Walterbach coached me, and now I get to coach beside him.”

Kruse is on the record board for girls basketball as the third all-time leading scorer, first in rebounds in one year, and first in rebounds in one game. Those are just three out of the 13 times she appears on the record board for the program. 

“As a player, I respect her more because she’ll say things and I’m like ‘woah I’m literally talking to someone who broke records,’ and I’m being coached by someone who literally wore the jersey that we’re wearing,” sophomore Layla Thornton said. “I look up to her more because of that.” 

Kruse has come back to her alma mater to coach both the C team and JV for the girls basketball program. Kruse’s positivity and belief in each of her players to do their best every day is why she has made such an impact on the program as a coach already.

“My confidence went up a lot when I started being coached by her,” JV and varsity player freshman Kennedi Brower said of Kruse. “She makes me feel like I’m doing my best and reaching my full potential.”

Brower transferred this year to Liberty and has made an amazing connection with Kruse, much like many others on the team have. Kruse cheered on Brower as she made her way up from a JV player to a varsity player and celebrated her accomplishments with her along the way.  

“I think she’s a really good influence on me and I look up to her,” Brower said.

Kruse has become an asset to the team once again and has earned the respect of all the girls in the program.

Coach Kruse instructs her team from the sidelines in a close game. (Sruthi Ramesh)

“I love them, and the fact that they love me back is even better,” Kruse said.

With Kruse’s knowledge of basketball and her positive and genuine personality, the girls she’s coaching have started loving practice and the environment they get to come to after school. 

“Obviously I want to win, that’s number one, but to me, making sure they have a positive experience whether it’s their first time, third time, or millionth time playing basketball, I want to make sure everybody understands that at the end of the day it’s a high school game,” Kruse said. “If you’re having fun and you enjoy it, then that’s what it has to be, and that’s how you get better.”

For this being Kruse’s first year coaching, the impact she has made so far is remarkable. Her connection with the girls outside of the gym is one reason why she is becoming an important part of the program. 

“She’s definitely such a good friend on top of being a coach,” Thornton said. “When someone is pushing you, but they’re also your friend, it makes it better and it’s more fun.” Thornton plays on the C team and hasn’t had much experience playing basketball, but she knew as soon as she talked to Kruse the first time that she had entered a safe environment to have fun and get better everyday, no matter what the starting point was. 

Contrary to Thornton, Brower has experience playing basketball and has seen many different coaching styles, but was pleasantly surprised to meet Kruse when she transferred to Liberty at the beginning of the season.

I really couldn’t have asked for a better first go around, and it makes me want to do it forever.”

— Coach Kruse

“I almost quit, I was so close to quitting,” Brower said. “Then, I met Savannah and it was a huge relief because she was like a bigger sister.”

As a new coach, Kruse has applied the knowledge she acquired playing basketball in college and then everything she learned at Liberty as well to her coaching style. 

“Coming back and taking everything I learned from [Coach Walterbach] in high school plus what I learned in college to teach all the young girls who just want to hoop, that’s the best part about it to me.” Kruse said. 

Overall, Kruse’s first coaching year at her former high school has been one for the books. Her experience being a player in the program before a coach really makes the difference to have someone who is always trying to help her players get better every day, the same way she had years before them.

“They’re all positive with me and I am positive with them. They’re positive with each other,” Kruse said of her players. “I really couldn’t have asked for a better first go around, and it makes me want to do it forever.”

Kruse continues to leave her mark on the program at Liberty as a coach and will forever leave a mark on the girls she is coaching. As long as Coach Kruse is on the court coaching, she plans to continue helping players get better each and every day.