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First-Time Coach Takes Girls to State Championship

When he started an after-school program for disadvantaged youths in 1998, Tom Cole of Kids Unlimited never envisioned that one day he would become a successful high school basketball coach. However, he did create boys and girls basketball programs at Kids Unlimited.

Shopping around for a girls team coach three years later, South Medford High School hired Cole, despite knowing he had never coached high school basketball.  The South Medford girls had lost 24 games the previous year without a single win. Drawing from his Kids team, Cole turned things around.  Over the next four seasons, the Medford girls won 62 games.
In 2012, the South Medford Girls won 30 games and finished the season without a loss, and won the Class 6A state title at the Portland Rose Garden. Although some girls on the team came from families that had never attended college, the team had the highest grade-point average of any girls’ basketball team in Oregon. Its starting seniors accepted full scholarships to attend colleges ranging from Stanford to Portland State University.
In 2013, the team again made it to the finals, but lost the championship title game. 

Sources: Ulmer, Jerry. "Class 6A girls basketball: South Medford ready to make its mark." The Oregonian 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Jan. 2014; “South Medford win sets up state-title rematch,” Mail Tribune, Medford, Oregon, 1 Dec., 2012. Web. 9 Jan.l 2014. 

Dennis M. Powers was a business law attorney with various real estate and business ventures before teaching as a full professor and later professor emeritus at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado (b.a.), the University of Denver Law School (j.d.), and Harvard Business School (m.b.a.).