Whittell brain trust: Maltase, Summers give Warriors blend of young enthusiasm, veteran wisdom
Tex Winters and Phil Jackson, Dick Harter and Larry Bird and Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge are just some of the great coaching duos in history of basketball.
Now, a South Shore duo are starting to emerge as one of the better brain trusts in Northern Nevada.
Steve Maltase and John Summers have guided the Whittell Warriors into the state playoffs for the first time since 1994 and have formed a great bond that has helped their team become one of hottest in the 2A class.
“There’s not much of an assistant and head coach between them, except on paper,” senior swingman Bryan Sigel said. “They work so well together. It’s almost like there is just one coach.”
Although it may seem like there is only one coach, the two definitely have different styles.
Maltase has a more laid-back style where he likes to observe his team in practice, while Summers likes to get into the scrimmages and work with the kids hands on.
“We actually started out the other way around,” Maltase said. “At the beginning of the season, John wanted to take a more silent manager role.
“But as the season wore on, he became more comfortable with the kids and wanted to be more involved.”
This season actually marks the first time Summers has been involved with the program on the varsity level full-time since his departure.
After stepping down in 1994 in order to bring stability to the program, he has spent the last six years working with both the junior varsity and varsity teams.
“The school didn’t have an on-campus JV coach and it made it difficult for me to run the program,” Summers said. “I stepped down to force them to hire a new coach who would be on campus.”
And in stepped Maltase, who was welcomed by Summers from day one.
“He made me feel real comfortable,” Maltase said. “I didn’t know the situation when I came here. When I found out that he stepped down, I thought it was a little weird.
“But I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Summers has been a part of the Zephyr Cove basketball scene off and on since the mid-1970s and was the coach of the last team to make it to the state tournament in 1994.
After that successful season Summers said he had enough and the Maltase era began.
Now, six years into it, Maltase and Summers have returned the Warriors to the state tournament.
Maltase said he owes a lot to the fact that Summers has helped rebuild the JV program.
“It was interesting that he stepped down, but he did it for the better of the program,” he said. “He really wanted to help the rest of the program and it’s paid off.”
Sigel has played under Summers since he was a freshman and has seen the program develop in his four years as a Warrior cager.
“It’s great that Maltase can trust Summers. He’s a great coach,” the senior said. “I’ve been playing under him since I was on JV and it really helped my game when he came to varsity when I did.”
The two are now hoping to deliver Whittell its first state title when the Warriors open the two-day tournament against The Meadows at 9 a.m. today at Lawlor Events Center in Reno.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.