Q&A with new MTHS girls basketball coach Jesica Anissipour

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MTHS Girls Basketball Coach Jesica Anissipour (left) introduces her 2015-2016 varsity squad at Jam Session XXII on Nov. 24. (Photo by Amanda Petrowski)
MTHS Girls Basketball Coach Jesica Anissipour (left) introduces her 2015-2016 varsity squad at Jam Session XXII on Nov. 24. (Photo by Amanda Petrowski)

This year’s basketball season at Mountlake Terrace High School will have a new look as 2007 graduate Jesica Anissipour returns to take over the reins of the girls’ program. Anissipour was a key part Terrace varsity squads that went 43-26 over three seasons between 2004 and 2007 – since then the program has compiled an overall record of 50-127. Anissipour went on to play women’s basketball at Shoreline Community College and coach a year at Moses Lake Christian Academy.

MLTnews.com caught up with the school’s newest coach recently to talk basketball, how she addresses her fellow staff members, her daily schedule and antique furniture.

What’s it like to come back and coach here at Mountlake Terrace High School as an alum?
Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better position. I was highly involved in Terrace as a student (and now) the teachers are all the same – it’s awesome. The only difference is I call them by their first names instead of Mr. or Mrs.; I’m trying to get used to that.

Coming back to Terrace, I mean this is where my heart and soul was in high school. I love being here. I love seeing where Terrace basketball is at and hopefully I can help bring an improvement.

You still have family in the area?
Yeah, and I live just down the street, back in the same house I lived in while in high school. It’s nice to be home.

And you work in addition to coaching?
Yes; I own my own business and I coach. I restore antique furniture right out of my garage. I used to have a store when I lived in Eastern Washington; I now sell the majority of my product on the Internet. I get up at 4 a.m. every day, then rush to practice by 2, and am here at Terrace till 6.

Let’s talk basketball. This team is young again this year – just one win last year. I look down the roster and only five back from last year’s squad and everyone else is brand new. What are the expectations?
My expectations are high. The talent is there; they’re young so the talent hasn’t been developed. I see it; I know it’s there. I’m thinking this year is going to possibly be a rough patch, not as rough as last year – we’re definitely going to top that one win – but the future of this program is huge. Many are freshmen and sophomores, a couple of returners. There’s so much potential. We had practice on Saturday and these girls looked like college athletes. We have a lot of work to do, but there is a future in Terrace basketball. We’re just putting in the work right now. It might be rough this year, but I promise next year’s going to be great.

Where did the new girls come from?
A lot of the girls who played last year, they spread the word around (the school) that the new coach is different, she’s dedicated, she wants this just as bad as we want it, and I guess word of mouth got around. Our workouts are intense, everything we do is intense and I think the girls were hungry for that. Word just got spread around and it helped out a lot. We had 27 tryout this year – I only cut six from the two programs (varsity and junior varsity), and the only reason I cut them was that I needed three more to have a C-team this year but those numbers weren’t there. Next year, I’ve heard, we’ll have a good number of freshmen coming in. Hopefully next year we’ll have three programs going and a feeder team starting by then.

With so many strong natural athletes on this year’s varsity squad, how are you developing in them specific basketball skills?
That’s what we do Saturday mornings – they are up at 7 a.m. in the gym, they are going for two-and-a-half hours and they work on strictly individual work. I’ve got (former) players from Seattle University coming in helping them that are volunteers with the program now. They’re our Saturday coaches; I break up the girls into pairs and they do individual workouts with college athletes. The beautiful thing about Terrace basketball is that the alumni come back because it is such a great school. They’re excited to come back and help out our girls.

What is the connection with Seattle University?
My best friend/old teammate Tatiana Heck, she went there. She was a great post player so we’ve got her working with our post players. Lee Swanson is another guy who is hopefully going to come back and help; he went to SU. Mike Boxley, our Dean of Students, went to SU. A lot of friends and old teammates go there and I’ve always supported them over the years because we’re Terrace basketball – we keep the bond tight.

How excited are you for this year?
Basketball is my life. They have to kick me out of the gym sometimes as the coach. I love it. I love Coach Sood (Nalin Sood, MTHS boys’ basketball coach) – I was his TA (teaching assistant) in high school; Stew (MTHS Athletic Director Kim Stewart), I was his TA in high school. I mean the bond here between the coaching staff and the athletic program is awesome. We’re getting the volleyball program involved with our women workouts – hopefully soccer will join in with us. We’re trying to change what we do with women’s sports here and bring back Terrace hoops.

I’m pumped about this year. This is my dream. When Stew asked me to coach I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Of course; I will be here tomorrow. Let’s go. When do workouts start?’ I can’t sleep at night anymore.

Terrace basketball is in my blood and I just want to give the girls what we had when I was their age. I want to help them develop their skills. A lot of my girls want to go to college and play basketball so hopefully, with my connections, I can get them there.

I feel extremely blessed just to be a part of this; it’s awesome. I’m excited about the future.

— By Doug Petrowski

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