Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lori Blade Is Guiding Hand for Edwardsville Dynasty

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lori Blade Is Guiding Hand for Edwardsville Dynasty

Article excerpt

EDWARDSVILLE * Lori Blade said she's glad to have an understanding group of softball players.

That's because she usually is busy as the coach of Edwardsville High's girls basketball program right up until time rolls around to get on the diamond as the leader of that program.

"It's nice that the girls are so supportive," Blade said. "We had a great group of them at our super-sectional game Monday. They know that, whether it's the Tuesday after the super-sectional or the Monday after state, they're going to be ready to go."

This time, softball will have to wait until the "Monday after state."

Blade has led the Tigers (31-0, No. 1 in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings) to their first Class 4A state basketball tournament appearance since finishing as runner-up in 2012. They play Montini (32-1) in a semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State in Normal.

In her 15th year with Edwardsville and 23rd year coaching overall, Blade once again has been at the top of her craft this winter while guiding a team to the state tournament for the 10th time. She led Carrollton to state five times, culminating in consecutive Class A titles in 2001 and 2002, and has been on the bench for each of Edwardsville's five state trips.

"You learn it's not about you, this is about the kids, it's their time," Blade said. "Also, the one thing I learned from that first (state) team is that the game moves so fast."

Blade has amassed a 657-83 record as a basketball coach, including a 424-56 mark with the Tigers. She was inducted in 2016 into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Tigers assistant coach Caty Ponce who played for Blade from 2007-11 and said the Hall of Famer leaves a lasting impact on her players.

"Coach Blade is an incredible person to work with," Ponce said. " She understands the game inside and out and really gets the most out of her players. She is a true teacher of the game by not only developing players skills, but by helping them understand the game of basketball. Players who come out of Coach Blade's program know how to work hard and how to compete, which are essential skills that will help these young ladies for the rest of their lives. …

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