Andy Hairsine could easily be nicknamed ‘Mr. Basketball' at St. Marys DCVI. He's probably the sole reason for the rejuvenated hoops program at the high school in the past decade.DCVI was never known as a ‘basketball school', but Hairsine, 50, has done a lot to change that since arriving at the collegiate 10 years ago.He began coaching the Midget girls and Junior boys, and then the Junior girls with Bill Day. He took the reins of the Senior boys and girls teams five years ago.Quite a bit of success has come in the last few years. In 2002, Hairsine coached the Saluki Junior girls team, which included hisdaughter Caleigh, to Huron-Perth and WOSSAA ‘AA' titles.Two years later, both the Senior boys and girls teams won WOSSAA ‘A' gold and advanced to the OFSAA (All-Ontario) tournaments.The Senior boys made DCVI history by capturing the school's first OFSAA hoops championship in the spring of 2004 in Tecumseh. The star guard on that Salukis' squad was Hairsine's son Ryan, who is now a fourth-year player withthe Queen's University Golden Gaels men's team.In the fall of 2004, Andy Hairsine guided the DCVI Senior girls to a gold-medal win at WOSSAA and a berth in the OFSAA ‘A' championship tournament in Kenora.Under Hairsine's tutelage, the Senior girls have also been very competitive in the Huron-Perth Conference the last four seasons.With players such as Caleigh Hairsine, Lauren Stewart and Ellen van Lierop, Salukis won back-to-back H-P titles in 2004 and 2005. The team went a perfect 10-0 in regular-season play in 2005, and 9-1 in 2006.In each of the past three seasons, including this year, the Senior girls have won silver medals at WOSSAA.Hairsine also won a couple of WOSSAA ‘A' titles with the Junior boys team when he taught 15 years at Mitchell District High School.Didn't play in high school For being an astute basketball man, many people would probably think AndyHairsine grew up with a basketball in his hands, went on to be a star playerin high school and then college or university, which later led to coachingthe sport.But Hairsine followed quite a different path. In fact, he didn't playbasketball in high school and didn't start coaching the sport until he was asecondary school teacher in Mitchell."In my second year teaching at Mitchell (DHS), they needed a basketballcoach, so I said ‘okay, I'll give it a shot,'" he recalled. "I had a Seniorboy help me for the first part of the year."Then I started reading lots of books, going to clinics, asking people whatthey do, and watching other people coach. I sort of fell in love with thegame."A couple of Andy Hairsine's strengths is knowing what strategy to use orchange during the course of a game in order to beat a particular team. Hesays it's also important to remind players to stick to the game plan.A good example was in the OFSAA ‘A' gold-medal game in Tecumseh, in thespring of 2004. Trailing by six points at half-time to the George HarveyHawks, Salukis rallied late for an exciting 67-59 victory over the tall,quick team from West Toronto.Hairsine had his team play "man-to-man" defence the entire game, and iteventually paid off with a comeback victory."I try not to get caught up in what the other team is doing," he notes. "Itry and make sure that we execute our game plan, and make the other team dothe adjusting."I don't try and analyze what the other team is doing. If you execute well,then it automatically takes care of what the other team is trying to do. Ifocus on getting our team to play the best that we can play."Personable, approachable coachAndy Hairsine also helps coach an OBA team in Stratford with Dave Hurley.It's an Under-19 Junior girls team called the Sonnets.Hurley says Hairsine is a well-respected coach in local basketball circles,and he's been successful because he knows the game and is always positivewith his players."It's his nature, his personality," Hurley says. "He seems to work very wellwith young people. He's very personable, very approachable. He's not a coachwho will embarrass or upset a young person; he doesn't raise his voice oryell."He's always very encouraging, and teaches players ways to be successful onthe basketball court. He shows them the right way to shoot and the right wayto play good defence."I think the thing with Andy is that he makes young people feel good aboutthemselves, and have lots of confidence in their abilities. That's why he'sbeen successful, and he's certainly the kind of coach you want to have atthe high-school level," Hurley added.St. Mikes' coach Steve Goforth echoed many of the same sentiments."Andy's teams are always well-prepared," says Goforth, who's coached againstHairsine in H-P League play. "He has tremendous knowledge of the game, andis a great tactician. But overall, he's a genuinely nice guy who's alwayswilling to share ideas and thoughts with you about basketball."His teams always give their best effort, and always make the gamecompetitive," he added.Likes running attackAndy Hairsine coaches teams to run and move the ball. It's a philosophy thathe's always believed in."I want to run and move the ball up the court as fast as possible," he says."If a player is open, I want that person to get the ball."I'm not too fussy on set positions on the floor. I want people to playbasketball rather than just learn one job. I like to make sure players learnskills as a guard, a post player and a wing player, so they're notspecialized; they can do all the jobs."Hairsine likes a running attack for a couple of reasons."It's more exciting for the players, and for the fans to watch," heexplains. "But also, that style eventually wears the other team down,especially in the last quarter if they're not used to running at that pace.You can take advantage of that."You become well-conditioned yourself because you're playing that style ofbasketball in both practices and games."It's also important for players to know their roles, and understand theroles of the other players on a team, Hairsine says."When they understand that, then they can see how the whole thing fitstogether. Try and do the things that you can do, and do them really well,and the rest will take take of itself."It's a formula that's spelled success for Andy Hairsine.Notes:•Three St. Marys DCVI students'Stephanie Hairsine, Lauren Stacey andBrittanie Bailey'are members of the Under-19 Stratford Sonnets.•At DCVI, Andy Hairsine teaches Grade 9 and 10 Science, and Grade 11 and 12Physics.•Ryan Hairsine, 22, is currently out of the Queen's line-up with an ankleinjury. He's hoping to return to game action after Christmas.Worth recalling. In his final year at DCVI, Ryan Hairsine averaged awhopping 36 points over five games at OFSAA, leading St. Marys to its sixthtournament win that memorable season.•Caleigh, 19, is also at Queen's in Kingston, but is no longer playingbasketball. She's a freshman, studying arts and science.•Andy and Derry Hairsine's youngest daughter Stephanie, a Grade 12 student,was a key player on the Senior girls team this year. The 17-year-old isreturning to DCVI next year.•Derry Hairsine is a registered nurse at University Hospital in London.