Girls Basketball: Mechanicsburg’s Dodane celebrates 300th victory

Mechanicsburg High School coach Christie Dodane poses for a photo with her husband Heath after her 300th career victory on Jan. 30. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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Mechanicsburg High School coach Christie Dodane poses for a photo with her husband Heath after her 300th career victory on Jan. 30. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

As Christie Dodane reflects on her 20-year coaching career, she can’t help but think about all the great players she’s coached over the years.

The Mechanicsburg High School girls basketball team beat Triad last week to give Dodane her 300th career coaching victory.

She knows it wouldn’t be possible without players committed to getting better every day.

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“It’s a cool thing,” Dodane said. “I guess when you start way back when you never realize that you’re going to be able to accomplish something like that. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to coach some really great kids and had some really good teams. When you have that, it’s easier to accomplish.”

Dodane’s coaching career began at Miami East in 1992. Five years later, the Vikings advanced to the Division III state semifinals. In 1999, they lost to Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph in the D-III state final.

“Those were some pretty special teams,” Dodane said. “Those are memories that will live with me forever, playing in St. John Arena and making tournament runs, coming up with strategies in the postseason. It was just great fun.”

After eight seasons in Casstown, Dodane stepped away from coaching in 2000 to spend more time with her young family.

“I took off those years to be a Mom,” she said. “I felt like I was spending more time with everybody else’s kids than I was my own.”

In 2008, she returned to coaching at Graham, winning the Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division title in 2010.

The following season she was hired at Mechanicsburg where she’s spent the last 10 seasons, including winning a district championship in 2013, the program’s first since 1990.

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At Mechanicsburg, Dodane was able to coach all three of her daughters — Brooke, Jamie and Mikayla. She also got a teaching job in the district after spending several years as a teacher at Tecumseh so they could all be in the same school.

“I think it made me closer with the girls,” she said. “I’m sure at times it wasn’t fun when we would lose or whatever. We’d come home and watch film for hours, but we’d also do that when we won, too. With all three of them, there’s a special bond there because we did spend a lot of time together.”

She’s also coached with her father, Paul Hershberger, Sr., who currently serves as the Indians seventh grade girls basketball coach. He’s been an assistant for Dodane at all three stops in her coaching career.

“He’s been a big part of my career,” she said. “He’s been my mentor, my inspiration throughout the years. It was really cool when we moved over here and my brother (Paul Hershberger, Jr.) coached the boys team and I coached the girls team. … We would joke that if you came and watched the girls play, you’d know exactly what the boys were going to run and vice versa.”

She also thanked her husband Heath for supporting her over the years.

“Through all the years, he’s supported me and been my biggest fan,” she said. “You can’t do this without a supportive spouse. He’s had to be Mr. Mom at times and way back when the girls were little he’d do their hair and get them ready for the games.”

After the victory over Triad last week, the girls basketball program planned a surprise reception for Dodane. On Saturday, she was honored at the game with the ball from her 300th win.

“It’s an honor and it made me reflect on all the players I’ve had,” she said. “I’ve coached some really good people and they’ve turned out to be great individuals.”

Dodane and the Indians (18-2, 14-0 OHC) are seeking their first Ohio Heritage Conference title since joining the league in 2001. They host West Liberty-Salem (16-4, 14-1 OHC) on Saturday night in a key OHC North Division game. The Indians can clinch the outright title with a victory, while the Tigers can earn a share of the title with a road win.

The future is bright for the Indians, thanks to a strong group of high school players and incoming middle school players, Dodane said.

“I’ve got some really great kids coming through right now and it’s exciting,” she said. “They’re good kids, too. The kids I have are just awesome.”

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