WOONSOCKET â€” George Coderre sounded more like a proud father rather than a head coach upon being informed that Woonsocket High senior Kailey Fugere had been selected by Gatorade as the 2011-12 R.I. Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
â€śSheâ€™s always been an outstanding athlete,â€ť noted Coderre on Thursday morning, â€śbut to see her round out her game and see her adjust from year to year â€¦ sheâ€™s a quiet and unassuming kid and to see her take on more of a leadership role, thatâ€™s why sheâ€™s been a pleasure to coach.â€ť
Fugere owns the distinction as becoming the first Woonsocket girlsâ€™ basketball player to receive this high honor from The Gatorade Company in collaboration with ESPNHS. The press release notes that this particular award recognizes â€śnot only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court.â€ť
Thereâ€™s no question that Fugere embodies every single aspect of the criteria laid out by the Gatorade selection committee. The 5-foot-9 forward averaged 21.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 2.4 steals and 1.5 assists per game this past season, leading the Villa Novans to the Division I state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
A 2011 Second Team All-State selection, Fugere shot 59.7 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw line. The stateâ€™s leading scorer as a senior, she concluded her high school basketball career with 1,360 points and 849 rebounds.
â€śShe finished one point behind Brooke (Coderre) among the all-time Woonsocket scoring leaders,â€ť George Coderre said. â€śHer skill set is so unique in that she doesnâ€™t need the ball, nor she does she want it to revolve around her. Every coach wants a kid like that whoâ€™s willing to do the dirty work. You donâ€™t have to run anything for her.â€ť
The Woonsocket coach marveled at how Fugere was able to register such impressive totals despite being the focal point of opposing defenses. She was also hindered by a knee injury late in the season, one that forced her to miss four games.
â€śLetâ€™s face it, she was double-teamed every time she touched the ball. To be effective under those conditions to the point that she was dominant, it was pretty special,â€ť said Coderre, effusive in his praise of his star player.
The know-how Fugere displayed on the hardwood was not lost upon rival coaches. â€śKailey Fugere can really play,â€ť said Gary Martinelli, head coach at Ponaganset High. â€śShe is difficult to match up with because she is so smart and strong. She is very active and has good footwork and great hands.â€ť
Fugere also exceeds in the classroom, maintaining a B-plus average. She has volunteered locally on behalf of a literacy-outreach program as a volleyball and bowling coach for physically and intellectually challenged youth and with the Respite Program, serving families with special-needs children.
The R.I. Gatorade POY company Fugere joins includes past recipients Kelly Mannix (2010-11, Barrington High School), Allie Jones (2009-10, South Kingstown), Torey Jones (2008-09, La Salle Academy), Pawtucket native Brittany Wilson (2007-08, St. Mary Academy-Bay View), Meredith Ward (2006-07, Westerly), Bethany O'Dell (2005-06, Lincoln), Chelsea Marandola (2003-04, Johnston), and Joanna Skiba (2002-03, Classical). Fugere is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award to be announced later this month.
Fugere will play at basketball at Rhode Island College next year. â€śShe wants to get into the nursing program,â€ť Coderre said. â€śNo matter where she goes, Kailey will be a very coachable kid.â€ť